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How to Set Up a Classroom Kindness Elf 

The holiday season is my favorite time of year, but it can also be a little bit stressful.  If you feel the same way, you might feel like adding a classroom elf to your daily routine might be one extra stressor you don’t REALLY need.  I wanted to share one of my favorite worthwhile ways to incorporate an elf in the classroom during December.  This post is going to be full of tips for setting up a kindness elf in the classroom without losing your sanity. After reading these tips (and grabbing the freebie) my hope is that you’ll see that a kindness elf can be a worthwhile addition to your classroom. 

What is a Classroom Kindness Elf?

Like other classroom elves, the kindness elf is on a scouting mission from Santa, but with a twist. This special elf is sent from the North Pole to watch specifically for acts of kindness to report back to Santa.  Generally, students who have had an experience with an Elf on the Shelf at home know that the elf is watching for good behavior to help finalize Santa’s naughty and nice list.  Rather than focusing on individual student behavior, the kindness elf is watching for how students are treating one another in the weeks leading up to winter break.

A classroom kindness elf on a bookshelf

Why Focus on Kindness and Character?

A kindness elf reminds students that how we treat others is important and what we do for others is part of our character.  Focusing on kindness and character is especially important during the holiday season because children are often focused on their own wishlists and counting down to their own holiday plans. This is a great opportunity for them to focus outward and see how their actions can impact others.

Two Christmas elves sitting on small pieces of wood

Another reason why it’s helpful to focus on kindness and character is that it takes some of the emphasis away from gifts.  A classroom elf can be disheartening for students who know that they won’t be getting the things on their wishlists, regardless of what the elf says about their behavior.  Instead, a kindness elf is focused on something that students have complete control over.  They can be recognized for the nice things that they do for others, which can be a gift in and of itself.

How to Set Up a Kindness Elf in the Classroom

If you’re interested in welcoming a classroom kindness elf, I wanted to share a few tips to make it a memorable experience for your students without adding to your seasonal stress!

1. Introduce Your Elf

One of the most important things to consider when bringing a kindness elf to the classroom is how you introduce your special visitor.  Since many students have had previous experiences with elves, their thoughts might go directly to Santa’s nice list, behavior, and gifts. This is why it’s important to emphasize kindness from the very beginning. Explain that the primary purpose of the elf’s stay in your classroom is to watch for acts of kindness.

I have several fun printables that you can use as part of the elf introduction process.  Your students can even write in their elf journals what the kindness elf will be watching for during the upcoming weeks.

A plush elf with curly hair

2. Brainstorm Acts of Kindness

When you tell your elementary students that your holiday visitor will be watching for acts of kindness, it’s helpful to talk about what that actually means.  Your class can generate a list of small acts of kindness that they can do for others.  Emphasize to your students that acts of kindness don’t have to be large gestures.  In fact, it’s often the simplest acts of kindness that can impact someone’s day the most.

3. Set Up a Kindness Box

Once your students have had a good introduction to the types of kind acts that the elf is watching for, the fun can begin!  Tell your students that the kindness elf also needs their help to gather information for Santa.  You can set up a simple kindness box that your students can use to share kind things that happen in the classroom, at recess, in the cafeteria, and more!  

Your kindness box doesn’t have to be elaborate! You can dress up a tissue box and have “Caught Being Kind” slips that your students can fill out during the month. When the students aren’t around, you can also fill out and add some “Caught Being Kind” slips that are from your special visitor.

4. Celebrate Acts of Kindness

Be sure to set aside some time each day to go through your kindness box with your students.  This will keep them motivated to watch for the acts of kindness happening around them. You can choose to celebrate these acts of kindness however you’d like, but I suggest keeping it simple.  For example, you might have a special type of applause or have students make a heart with their hands after listening to each act of kindness.  

Even though it’s exciting for students to get caught being kind by the elf, it’s just as special for a classmate to notice when they have done something kind. This is why I suggest using and celebrating both types of reports.

5. Incorporate Your Elf into Other Worthwhile Activities

The elf fun doesn’t have to stop there!  You can incorporate your kindness elf into other worthwhile activities during the month. 

A plush elf holding a daily journal

One of my favorite ways to use a classroom elf in the classroom (besides encouraging kindness) is to motivate students to write!  There are so many fun writing prompts and activities that you can do with your students while your kindness elf is visiting.

FREE Classroom Kindness Elf Printables and More!

Would you like to use a classroom kindness elf this year?  I have created a free resource to save you time during this busy season.  Click here or on the picture below to find everything you need to introduce a kindness elf to your students, as well as other fun activities to make the most of your special visitor’s trip from the North Pole.

A variety of classroom elf related printables

Save These Classroom Kindness Elf Ideas

If you’d like to find this post later, be sure to save the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest!  You’ll be able to quickly find these kindness elf tips and resources whenever you need them.  

How to Set up a Classroom Kindness Elf

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