When introducing an elf to your class in the month of December, you might feel like it’s just one more thing to think about each day. This is definitely true if you’re just using a classroom elf as a fun “extra” for your students. However, a classroom elf can be a great way to engage your students in practicing essential academic and social skills when used intentionally. In this post, I’m going to share some of my favorite classroom elf ideas for busy teachers. With these tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your elf’s stay in your classroom.
5 Classroom Elf Ideas for Busy Teachers
Instead of being just one more thing to think about each day, the classroom elf can serve as inspiration for daily skill practice.
Elf Naming Activities
One of the first activities you’ll want to do when the elf arrives in your classroom is to give him or her a name! You can come up with a few choices as a class, then take a vote. Students can practice creating and counting tally marks to document the class votes. They can also practice summarizing the data from the voting process in order to determine the winning name!
After choosing a name, students can complete an introduction activity where they record the elf’s name and description. This is a fun way to communicate about the elf with families. Students can take home their completed worksheet, which will help them describe the elf to their parents. This is definitely a way to strengthen the school-home connection!
Practice Reading Fluency
Notes from your elf can be an excellent way for students to practice reading fluency. If your students are reading, be sure to give them an opportunity to read the note out loud. Whether you leave a copy of the note on each table for students to read aloud as a small group, or you invite one or two students to read out loud to the class, this can be great fluency practice! As opposed to a regular fluency passage, students will be so excited to take a turn reading at least part of the elf’s note out loud.
The elf’s notes often contain engaging voice and interesting details. Even if your students aren’t reading quite yet, these notes are a great way for them to see you model fluent reading with plenty of voice.
There are so many fun writing activities that you can incorporate into your daily work when you have an elf in the classroom. You can have students keep a daily journal of the elf’s shenanigans or the elf could bring writing prompts each day! No matter how you choose to incorporate writing into your elf’s visits, you’ll find that students are highly motivated to write about their classroom visitor.
Even better is the fact that your elf-themed writing activities could double as bulletin board decor, work samples, or even holiday mementos for your students to take home. Seasonal writing activities are perfect for a busy holiday month in the classroom.
Community Building Questions
Building classroom community is something that we should focus on all year long. The classroom elf can be a great way to ask your students a variety of community-building questions. For example, if your elf was hiding in the classroom library with a book about cats, the daily note might ask students about their favorite animal. You can answer the elf’s questions together as part of your morning meeting.
By taking the time to do this, students will be able to establish connections with their peers and build stronger relationships. A strong classroom community built on respect and trust can improve the quality of your classroom discussions. This positive classroom community can also encourage students to take more academic risks.
Positive Behavior Reinforcement
Most elementary teachers will agree that behavior management takes up a lot of time during the month of December. This might be why some teachers might be hesitant to bring in yet another seasonal distraction to the classroom. However, the classroom elf is a great way to encourage positive behavior. As your elf catches students being good, you’ll find that students are eager to be noticed by the classroom visitor! You might even find that your classroom elf even saves you some precious time during this busy month because your students are more motivated to stay on task.
Where to Put a Classroom Elf
For busy teachers, deciding where to put the classroom elf each day can feel like the most time-consuming part of the process. You don’t need to have elaborate elf set-ups every day in order to keep your students engaged! In fact, the note that the elf brings is often the most exciting part of the daily routine.
This is why I have created a resource with 20 notes that your classroom elf can bring to your class. Each note comes with a placement suggestion that goes along with the content of the letter. This way you can reap all of the benefits of extra engagement and skill practice without spending hours coming up with elf notes and placement ideas.
If you want to try a classroom elf in your classroom this year, be sure to check out my post with even more elf tips for teachers. You’ll find a variety of practical tips to help you add this fun tradition to your classroom without feeling overwhelmed.
Printable Classroom Elf Notes and Activities
This printable resource includes everything you need to help your students channel their seasonal excitement into purposeful activities. You’ll find the daily notes and placement suggestions that I mentioned above, as well as elf-naming activities and a journal for your students. This is the perfect resource for busy teachers who want the fun of a classroom elf without any of the fuss!
Save These Classroom Elf Ideas
If you’d like to save these classroom elf ideas for later, be sure to save this post! Just add the pin below to your favorite holiday or teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find this post whenever you need some ideas for your classroom elf!