Elf on the Shelf Classroom Alternative

Ahhh…December 1st…when it’s finally acceptable to blast Christmas music, decorate with as many twinkly lights as possible, and eat your weight in decorated cookies (even though, my Christmas music has been blasting since November 1st)! It’s such a magical time…with one exception…that damn elf.

You all know which elf I’m talking about.

Now, I am totally on board and am in awe of people that have the elf in their house. The creative things you all come up with and where you put him is genius. In some houses he gets his own little outfits or even brings extravagant little gifts for the kids. It’s fun to watch other people do it. I’m definitely not creative enough to do that, and more realistically, I’d consistently forget to move him each night…resulting in tears in the morning. And honestly….our mornings are chaotic enough, I don’t need to add to it.

However, I do think there is one place that the elf doesn’t belong: the classroom. I know, I know…I’m sure that’s an unpopular opinion, but I’m ok with that. Now that December is here, my instagram feed is filled with teachers introducing the elf to their class in some elaborate way letting them know that he’s reporting back to Santa each night. And yes, I’m sure the majority of the students in the class celebrate Christmas and are totally loving it. But as I see the pictures of the elf, I can’t help but think about all the kids that don’t celebrate Christmas or all the families that have their own special traditions at home with the elf.

In a world where we are working so hard to unite different cultures and backgrounds, it seems so divisive to bring in such a strong Christmas tradition, especially for the entire month of December, when there are other holidays that deserve equal celebration. Yes, I’m sure that teachers have also dedicated a couple of read alouds in honor of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but the majority of the month will focus on Christmas and the elf.

If you’re someone that typically brings an elf into the classroom, I challenge you to reflect on the reason why you feel you need it. Is it so you have an additional “behavior management” tactic for the month? Is it for you to celebrate Christmas? Is it because you have one at home with your own kids?

If you’re still feeling like you want to bring in a little “holiday magic” to your classroom, try incorporating a “kindness penguin” or “kindness polar bear”. Each day he could hide and suggest random acts of kindness that your class could participate in. For example, coloring pictures for a nursing home, thank you notes to the custodians, etc. Keep in mind, the holiday magic doesn’t come from a little elf; it comes from the excitement and joy that YOU bring into your classroom!!


One thought on “Elf on the Shelf Classroom Alternative

  1. I totally agree with your thoughts on the Elf on the Shelf. I love it and my daughter, Holly, loves it in their home. She does all of the moving and dressing of the elf. As you said, I think it belongs in the home of the families that want it. I love your idea of acts of kindness with a “thing or animal” that children of all backgrounds and cultures can relate to. Your ideas for the Acts of Kindness are awesome.


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