This past weekend my sister, brother-in-law, and six-year-old niece moved into a new home. I’d figured that my niece might be anxious about moving—even though it wasn’t a long distance move, she would have to change schools, make new friends, and leave the only home she’d ever known! Sure enough, while I was watching her the night before the big move (to give my sister and bro-in-law some much needed last-minute kid-free packing time), she teared up and confessed that she wanted to live in her “real home” and not the new “sleepover home.”

Fortunately, my sister and I had been scheming for a couple of weeks, and had a plan of attack. Operation: New House Scavenger Hunt was in full effect!


We came up with a new house-themed scavenger hunt that we hoped would accomplish a few things:

  • immediately give her a positive, fun association as soon as she arrived at her new home
  • get her focused on the things about the new house she was excited about
  • give her an opportunity to put some of her newly acquired reading and writing skills to use

And, honestly, we were hoping to distract her from her fears and anxieties for awhile.

It worked even better than I’d imagined! Here’s how the scavenger hunt went down:

  1. We chose six places in the new house to focus on: her bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, the livingroom, the front porch, and the backyard
  2. To get to each new place, she had to first solve a puzzle of some kind—hangman, a wordsearch, or using a special decoder wheel to decode a word or phrase
  3. Once she cracked the clue, she had to complete a “time capsule task”—trace her handprint and write her “signature,” cut a piece of string as tall as she is, fill out a worksheet listing the things she was looking forward to in her new house and neighborhood, take a picture with her family on the porch, etc.
  4. She also got a small “prize” in each room—something for her to be excited about. She gets to look forward to making butterfly-shaped cookies in the kitchen, using her butterfly nightlight in her bedroom, playing in her new backyard sprinkler, and more!
  5. The final task was to bury the time capsule in the backyard, with the promise that they’ll dig it up next summer. The time capsule fits in nicely with some of the themes she and her family have been focusing on these past few weeks—namely, change is difficult, but it can also be exciting.

The scavenger hunt worked like a charm! She was completely engaged for over an hour, reading, writing, and racing around her new house. She was definitely focused on the good/exciting things, rather than the scary/uncomfortable things (it helped that her parents had painted one wall of her bedroom purple!).

Do you have a kid in your life who’s going through a transition? New school? New home? Perhaps a well-designed scavenger hunt can help ease the transition. Let us know in the comments!