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kids

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Moments: Moving to a new home

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!

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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!

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Moments: Back to School

We’re nearly halfway through summer now. For many kids, this means school is just right around the corner. Some will be sad to say goodbye to day-long adventures with neighborhood playmates and many will dread the thought of having to make new friends and doing homework.

There are certainly tried-and-tested tricks to alleviate your kid’s anxiety. Taking a picture, slipping a sweet note in her bag, and preparing her favorite breakfast are some. But if you’re looking to make the first day extra special, here are other ideas to make her look forward to going back to school.

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  • Create a vision board together around the age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Whether your child wants to be a doctor, a dancer, or a detective, displaying images and words that represent her aspirations will keep her focused and motivated. The board can serve as a daily reminder to help her see and believe in her dreams, and that school is key in reaching them.
  • Reminisce about the previous school year. Looking at photos of familiar faces and places will put her at ease. Watching videos of her performing in the school play or kicking a ball around the soccer field will remind her how much fun can be had in school.
  • Do a scavenger hunt. Stash her newly-bought school supplies (and maybe a treat or two) in easy-to-find nooks around the house. Create a treasure map or post rhyming clues to help find her things. If the supplies you bought are particularly colorful or designed with her favorite book character, she’ll be excited to use them in school.
  • Pack an extra apple or another cupcake in her lunchbox, and encourage her to share it. This will surely help her make a new friend!
  • Sign up for a class and make it a first day for yourself. This will allow you to share an experience together and, knowing you can relate, your child will feel comfortable to ask you questions and to share her feelings about her big day. Tip: whether it’s cake-decorating or wilderness survival lessons, sign up for a class you’ll be excited about — your enthusiasm will be infectious!

You see, going back to school doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Making a tradition out of these play-practices will surely make your kid look forward to going back to school year after year!

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Summer Road Trip Fun Kit for Kids of All Ages

My sister is taking my five-year-old niece on a road trip this week, and she made the most awesome Fun Kit to keep her occupied during the long stretches of time in the car. Here’s what it includes:

Map of the trip

  • Major destinations are highlighted so my niece can follow along with their progress.

Road trip scavenger hunt

  • This has been completely customized to the specific route (e.g. Look for the “Welcome to Oregon” sign), and divided into three phases. It also features items specific to my niece’s interests like cars that look like the characters in the movie Cars.

Road Trip Tickets to be “cashed in” during the trip

  • J gets to choose the next three songs on the iPod
  • 20 minutes of sing-along songs
  • J gets 20 minutes with mom’s iPad (which has been pre-loaded with kid-friendly apps)
  • J watches a movie on the portable DVD player
Don't forget the teddy bear! By Flickr user -Snugg-

Don't forget the teddy bear! By Flickr user -Snugg-

Games and activities:

  • Etch-A-Sketch
  • Lite Brite
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • A travel journal! Lined notebook, pens, stickers of things they’ll see/do on the trip
  • Disposable camera

Car came catalog:

  • Alphabet game – spotting the letters on signs,  license plates, etc.
  • “Little Johnny” –  My sister and brother-in-law will post hypotheticals like: Little Johnny is eating crayons – do you tell the teacher or not? Or Little Johnny is climbing out the window. Little Johnny is making faces at me, etc. My niece learns when it’s appropriate to tell an adult and when it’s tattling.
  • Grocery List – The first player names an object available at a grocery store that starts with the letter A. The next player has to repeat what the first player said and then add another grocery item that starts with a B. If you forget a grocery item, you’re out, and the game continues until the player with the best memory wins.
  • Who Do We Know? - My sister and brother-in-law will pose questions such as, “Who do we know who used to be a skydiving instructor?” or “Who do we know who was born in another country?” or “Who do we know who worked at a fish and chips restaurant?” and then my niece gets to guess which one of our friends or family members the statement applies to. It’s a fun way for her to learn a little family history and personal biography.

Sounds like a road trip I’d like to go on! What would you add?

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