Elf on the Shelf is one of the best things you can incorporate into your classroom this year! Kids absolutely love it, and it's a wonderful way to spread some holiday cheer (and kindness) this holiday season. Try these Elf of the Shelf classroom ideas in your own classroom to see for yourself!
The whole concept of a class elf works amazingly well, especially in the primary grades. Many kids already have their own elf at home, so they're used to the antics they can get up to. They also really want the elf to return, so they follow the rules very well.
The elf is basically Santa's helper, and each night, they return home to the North Pole to report back about what they saw. Many teachers like to use their classroom elf as a way to incentivise students to be on their best behaviour, especially during a tricky time of year.
However, I love to use my classroom elf to promote KINDNESS. Instead of just being one more thing to add to your plate, use the elf tradition to foster a culture of kindness. This can have a positive effect long after the holidays end!
Want to incorporate an elf in your classroom? These easy classroom elf ideas will help you enjoy the benefits of having your own fun elf without spending hours figuring out where to put it or making tons of signs! I've taken care of that for you.
Get a Free Set of Elf on the Shelf Printables
First, you need this mega pack of free Christmas elf activities! This free download has 100+ pages of tips and resources for you, including:
Fun elf on the shelf ideas & printable signs so you don't have to spend all day googling where to hide your elf
Elf quarantine protocol for a few extra days of calm before the antics start!
A kindness-themed welcome letter to greet your class
"Elf-proof" gloves so you can touch your elf without ruining the magic
Creative holiday writing templates
... and more!
These activities will help you start an Elf on the Shelf tradition easily, so be sure to grab your free downloads right away.
26 Best Elf on the Shelf Ideas for the Classroom
Ready to dive in? Here are 22 easy ideas to implement Elf on the Shelf in your own classroom this holiday season!
Of course, before you do any of these, the first thing you need to do is read the Elf on the Shelf book by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. Some teachers like to decorate their classroom from the 1st December to look like a Winter Wonderland with giant candy canes, Christmas lights, and other Christmas decorations - if this sounds like you, then go for it!
But remember, you don't need to set all that up for the entire month to feel magical!
1. "From the North Pole" Tags
Right after Thanksgiving break or at the end of November, a mysteriously wrapped package will arrive with these tags showing a special delivery from the North Pole Post Office. I wonder what it could be!
2. Elf Quarantine
Your little ones are probably already familiar with quarantines after the last few years, and it can be a helpful way to introduce your elf to your classroom without having to come up with places to hide them right away! There is an official letter explaining the quarantine and free props in the elf printable set above!
3. Name Your Elf
One of the best parts of having an elf is watching your class come together to welcome this special visitor! Your elf needs a name, though, so quarantine is the perfect time to brainstorm a name and talk about rules before the elf starts to move around.
4. Elf-Proof Gloves
Remember - the elf is not supposed to be touched, even by careful adults like you. The free bundle above includes printable tags to add to a pair of gloves to allow you to move the elf without damaging the elf's magic.
There are also tags to send home with your kids in case their parents need elf proof gloves, too.
5. Welcome Letter
This special note introduces your new elf with an emphasis on kindness! Your friendly elf will be looking for all the ways your students are being kind to each other and will take those messages right back to Santa himself every night.
Don't worry - the free template includes both Australian and American English and a variety of elf images to make sure your classroom is inclusive!
6. Free Printable Elf Surveillance Letter
Place these surveillance signs around to remind everyone one that Santa's elf is watching and waiting to report back!
7. Kindness Cards
Since this elf is looking for kindness, these "spotted being kind cards" are a great way to notice and celebrate your kids being patient and caring towards each other. Although this is something I prioritise all the time, this extra push can really help bring everyone together.
8. "Elf in Training" Signs
I love to invite my students to apply to become elves themselves by filling out an elf application! This fun activity would be a great morning warm-up or a fun literacy activity to help them think about all the skills and traits an elf must-have for this special job.
9. Elf on The Shelf Twister Free Printable
This is one of my favourite activities because it's always so funny to see the elf trying to contort around a twister board. This one gets lots of laughs!
10. Sharp Decisions
Carefully stick the elf in the pencil sharpener with these pre-made signs that say, "this wasn't my sharpest decision." Don't forget the elf proof gloves to carefully rescue your classroom elf from this situation after everyone sees it!
11.Time for a SELFie
Show your silly elf taking a selfie for later! Take a selfie as a class to remember this special time.
12. Snowman Nose Rejection Center
Position your elf next to a grater with a partially shredded carrot to show kids what happens to all those noses that aren't quite good enough for their snowmen!
13. Elf Yoga
Add the "namaste" tag to your elf in their favourite yoga pose. Maybe follow it up with a little gentle stretching or mindful breathing from The Hive!
14. Melted Snowman
Kids love this one! Your elf tried to bring them a snowman from the North Pole, but it melted into this cup full of water with a floating carrot nose and googly eyes...It's such a cute idea!
15. Marshmallow Weights
Show off your elf trying to build their strength for the holiday season with these marshmallow weights made with toothpicks.
16. Go for a Roll
Place your elf inside a toilet paper roll and add this printable sign that says "weeee!" Your class will have so much fun with this one (and just might want to roll around themselves).
Remember, there are plenty more Elf on a Shelf activities like these in this free bundle, so be sure to get all your elf printables here.
Here are a few more ideas!
17. Don't Drive Your Teacher Bananas
18. Gingerbread House
19. Wanna build a snowman?
20. I'm A Star Student
21. Santa Thinks You're Ace
22. Time to learn the Elfabet\
23. Elf Ball Pit
24. Help, this stuff is sticky!
25. You are tree-mendous
26. A book is a free ticket to an amazing adventure
Writing Prompts for Elf on the Shelf
1. "If I Was an Elf" Writing Pages
Although your cute little elf is fun on its own, this is a great opportunity to add your new friend to your lesson plans with some creative writing prompts. If your students were elves, what would they do? Have them share their thoughts on these pages and present them to the whole class.
2 Elf's Adventures
What exactly does your special elf get up to each night? Well, that's a great prompt for this writing activity! Have your students explain how your elf gets into these outlandish positions or talk about what happens on their trip back to visit Santa!
At the end of the day, sketch out a quick image of what your elf was found doing that morning. This is a great way to test your students' memory and create a visual calendar of their silly antics!
3. "If I Had a Pet Reindeer" Writing Exercise
If your students suddenly had a pet reindeer at home, what would they do? Would they feed it hot cocoa and mini marshmallows for dinner or ride it to school each day? You'll love hearing their creative stories!
4. Elf Adjectives
This activity is a great way to tie in literacy skills while still having a little elf fun. What type of elf do you have? Are they silly or scary? Nice or mean?
More Elf-Themed Classroom Activities
Make your own elves with this Build an Elf Printable Craft!
Write a sweet Santa Letter that's cute enough to display on the wall.
Find even more Christmas activities to add a little Christmas cheer before break!