My family moved when I was a child. For the first 6 months, I refused to call the new house ‘home’. I did not want to settle in. But slowly, over time, I became more comfortable. Eventually, that strange, unwelcome house became a place I wanted to come home to every day.
In Nicola O’Byrne’s picture book, Where Is Home, Daddy Bear?, Evie Bear is worried about moving. She asks Daddy Bear how she’ll find friends in a new place and learn to feel at home somewhere different. Read the story and use some of these activities to explore the questions and emotions that young children (ages 3-7) have when facing a big life change.
Identifying special things. Throughout the drive, Evie always has her yellow blanket and blue bunny by her side. Ask children: What important items would you want to bring with you if you were moving? Why are these things special to you?
Making new friends. When Evie is worried about making new friends, Daddy suggests starting with a smile. Encourage children to share how they like to introduce themselves to others. Suggest that they strike a pose that shows their best ‘let’s be friends’ look. Share what you do and say as well. Notice together the similarities and differences in your approaches.
Feeling at home. Dad tells Evie that home is more than just a physical place or things she has. It is relationships and experiences and good feelings and memories. To help children explore how they feel at home, invite them to participate in a short guided meditation. Sit together and say: Close your eyes and breathe in (pause) and breathe out. (pause) Imagine you are walking into your home. (pause) What do you hear? (pause) What do you smell? (pause) How do you feel? (pause) You look around and see another family member. (pause) They ask if you would like to play a game. What game do you choose? (pause) How do you feel while you are playing together? (pause) Breathe in (pause) and breathe out. (pause) When you are ready, open your eyes.
Helping each other. When Daddy needs help finding the new house, Evie spots the river that shows them the way. It’s just one more way they help each other during the move. Play a guessing game with children. Ask them to think of lots of ways family members can help each other. Then take turns acting out ideas and guessing what they are. Afterward, talk together about your favorite ways of being helpful.
Managing big changes. Over the course of the story, Evie feels many different emotions, such as confusion, sadness, excitement, loneliness, worry, joy. Tell children: “Imagine that you just found out you will be moving to a new home next month.” Invite them to draw a picture of themselves depicting how they feel when they hear the news. Share your self portraits with one another. Compare the emotions each person feels and talk about why the idea of moving