Introducing Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

Elf on the Shelf has been a well known tradition since 2005, but increases with popularity every year! The official Elf on the Shelf website describes the tradition as follows "Santa’s scout elves help him manage his naughty and nice lists. During the Christmas season, the elves are adopted by families and fly back to the North Pole every night to tell Santa about the day’s adventures. When the elves return from their nightly North Pole journey, they hide in a new spot and wait for their families to find them!" While the original story of the elves was for families, it is easily adaptable to use in your classroom. In fact, you can register through the Elf on the Shelf website to receive K-5 lesson plans.

Use an Elf on the Shelf to keep your students on their toes this December! You'll be amazed at how many behavior issues are managed with the elf between Thanksgiving and Christmas at school!


I want to have some elf fun this year! Where do I begin?

First, you need to purchase an elf. You can buy boy or girl elves... or one of each if your class needs an extra set of eyes! The box set comes with the elf and the storybook.


If you're not crazy about the traditional elf (some find that he looks a little creepy), there is also a plush version available. However, this elf does not move as easily, so you can't set him up in all the neat ways you may have seen on Pinterest. He is actually marketed as a "touchable" version - if you touch the regular elf, he loses his magic!



I have my elf, but how do I introduce it to my students?

Now that you have your elf, you need a delivery plan. A super fun way to introduce the elf to your students is to have him delivered from the North Pole! Wrap the elf (in a box) in Christmas wrapping paper and put the box in the freezer at school. This will ensure your package is delivered freezing cold straight from the North Pole. Find a teacher friend, secretary, or even your principal that can bring the box down to your classroom at some point during the day.

After you unwrap the box, I suggest reading the book that came with your elf and/or watching the Elf on the Shelf movie to help students understand the purpose and magic of your elf friend. 


After students have been familiarized with the elf story, your elf will need a name. This is a great opportunity to brainstorm some names together and then take a vote!

We've learned the elf's story... now what?

Now it's time for the fun part - letting your elf be mischievous! There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest for setting up your elf. You can make things a little easier and use an elves at play kit to help you set up scenarios.



You can also introduce more elements to your elf's story by purchasing pets. Of course you can use any stuffed animal, but the Elf on the Shelf Pets come with books. In fact you'll find that the Elf on the Shelf shop has lots of great accessories for your elf like clothes, suitcases, or even a gingerbread house! Just remember that your elf needs to move every day after school (or before the kids get there in the morning). You'll find your students will be eagerly anticipating your elf's antics each day.



Oh no! Someone touched the elf! How can he get his magic back?

You can be as creative with this as you want. The elf can simply disappear for the rest of the day and be gone for a day or two as it recharges. Or you can do something to help the elf feel better. For instance, once the elf has been touched, have a student go the cafeteria to ask for some cinnamon. You can then sprinkle your elf with cinnamon to help give him (or her) enough magic to get back to the North Pole. You could also trying giving your elf a candy cane or Christmas cookie.

Enjoy being creative and let the elf magic begin!

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