15 Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf in your Classroom

Every year, we have a special visitor in my classroom in December- Elf on the Shelf! December is a crazy month, so I will do any extra incentives that help my student's behavior. I won't go into detail of why I love the Elf so much, but pretty much it, 1. Is always watching and 2. Reports to Santa every night, so that means my students are very intent on making good choices to impress our Elf.
Having an Elf in your classroom is one EXTRA thing you have to do before you leave/arrive in the morning, but if you plan ahead, it does make it so much easier! All these ideas are either FREE and include things in your classroom or have a very minimal cost (like Target Dollar Spot pencils or a box of candy canes) I use this handy Elf calendar to "schedule" my Elf's creative hiding spots or mischievous doings. I even have a sample calendar you can look at for more ideas!

Click the picture to grab your FREE planning calendar. 

Here are 15 easy ideas to use the Elf in your classroom:
1. Put a big bow on the Elf and "camouflage" in a Christmas tree. This is how our Elf arrived to our classroom this year. My students didn't find it for over an hour!

2. Have the Elf put up Christmas lights in your classroom. The Elf gets tangled up in the lights while he's putting them up!

3. The Elf gets into your candy stash! We have a Kiss Your Brain jar and the Elf must've been a little chocolate hungry. I even smeared a little chocolate on his cheeks and my students thought this was the funniest thing ever. 

4. When your students have an awesome day and receive lots of great reports from specials, I always have a little something saved up for them. I leave it on their desk with a "Great job" type of note from Santa or the Elf. I usually find something small at the Target Dollar Spot. One year, they have Elf on the Shelf erasers, which were perfect! You could also do a piece of candy or a fun reward coupon to make it free.

5. The Elf leaves a note using magnetic letters. This is another way to announce a fun reward, or you can write a note from the Elf.

6. The Elf propels down from the ceiling! I made a paper chain, but you could also use ribbon, twine, string, yarn, or even toilet paper. Just be sure to tape him up there or else he might free fall in the middle of your lesson!

7. Uh-oh, someone touched the Elf! He had a rough flight back from the North Pole, hence all the band-aids and "DO NOT DISTURB" sign. This inevitably happens every year, because a curious or handsy student just has to touch the Elf. Usually this happens once and no one else dares to touch the Elf.

Here's two ideas you can do separately or together! 
8. The Elf makes a "snow angel" out of marshmallows. 
9. The Elf brings supplies for hot chocolate! This is usually what I do on our last day with the Elf. We watch The Polar Express and drink our hot chocolate that our Elf so graciously brought my students for their wonderful behavior.

10. Another great "hiding place" for the Elf! Make a big paper snowflake and hide him behind it. I've also seen teachers have the Elf decorate the classroom with paper snowflakes, so if you have time, go for that!

11. Here's a wonderful idea from Kristen at Kissing Our Brains in K. Have the Elf play in the STEM bins! If you don't have STEM bins, you could always have the Elf playing with the math manipulative bins. Follow her on Instagram here for even more Elf on the Shelf ideas!

12. The Elf brings a "new" book to read! It doesn't have to be new or it could even be a book you buy from your Scholastic rewards. I love having the Elf get my students excited about reading new books! (Idea from Raining Hot Coupons)

13. The Elf scales the window, or whiteboard, or wall using stick on bows! This is a new idea that I added to my Elf on the Shelf calendar for this year. (Idea uploaded on Pinterest here)

14. The Elf makes Christmas decorations using Play-Doh. This is another last minute, easy idea for the Elf. (Idea uploaded on Pinterest here)

15. The Elf has a candy cane scavenger hunt! Hide candy canes all around your classroom and have your students find them. Once they find one, they get to eat it or take it home. You could also attach a letter/word to each candy cane and have the students unscramble for a special message! (Idea from Skinny Mom)

Need more ideas?

Follow my Pinterest board: "Elf on the Shelf" for even more fun ideas to try in your classroom!

Follow me on Instagram or using the hashtag #sweetforkindergartenelf for even more ideas! 


Classroom Reveal 2017

This past summer I had to do the dreaded task of moving classrooms again. In my 6 years of teaching, I have moved classrooms or to a new school 5 times. Even though I do not like packing, just to unpack and set up an entirely new classroom, it does give me time to purge and have a nice, clean slate to work with. I finished my classroom with about an hour to spare before Meet the Teacher, so I was very relieved! I am still missing bits and pieces of my classroom, specifically labeling everything and adding a few things to bulletin boards, but it is ready for the first day!
This year's "theme" is tropical fruit! I always have the same color scheme every year- turquoise, lime, and pink, but like to change different themes each year. The bulletin board letters were made using Astrobrights Color Paper. I also used Tropical Punch Pineapples Border, Yellow Wavy Border and fabric from JoAnn's. 
This is my classroom door bulletin board, and I know I am lucky to only have 7 students so far! Last year I had 18, so the numbers do change a lot. Teaching at a private school definitely has some benefits. I used the Ombre Lime Green Scallops Borders because it matched this pineapple fabric I was lucky enough to find last year at JoAnn's. 
These are my displayed work bulletin boards. I use them to hang up work easily and not have to take out my stapler every time I want to hang them up. They are a lifesaver and so easy to change frequently. I used clothespins and hot glued them to colorful scrapbook paper and then printed out a little pineapple/circle and glued that to the other side of the clothespin. It is so much easier than trying to glue the thumbtack to the clothespin! 
Find what I used here:
Ombre Turquoise Scallops Borders
Pineapple Bulletin Board Kit by Apples & ABCs

For my Classroom Jobs, I will use a clothespin to keep track of which student has each job for the week. I used hot glue and ribbon, and then stapled it to this bulletin board. Find it here: Classroom Jobs by Sweet for Kindergarten

These are my new classroom "rules". I like to have encouraging rules to build our classroom community in a positive way. We repeat these every day and refer to them quite a lot, especially in the beginning of the year. Find them here: In this class... Classroom Rules.

Focus Walls are a great visual tool for your students (and YOU!) to focus on what you are learning for the week. At the beginning of the week, we go over what we are learning, and then throughout the week, we refer back to the board. My students will use it when they need help spelling a word, or if they forget the essential question. My school uses the program Reading Wonders, and you can find this focus wall here: Kindergarten or First Grade
So this year, I am trying something new.... No teacher desk! It has taken up so much room and I hardly sit at it anyways, so I am trying this out for now. I have a computer table and then will be using my small group table next to it. It does get a little cramped back there, and I had to find a home for my 10 million Flair pens and Sharpies (new home: in the rainbow cart), but so far it is working well! 
Here's a closer look at my organization behind the teacher table. If you are going desk-less, you have to figure out a storage/organization system that works! Thank God for this toolbox! Without it, I don't think I would have been able to get rid of my desk. Labels are from Teach Create Motivate, you can find them here. I use these turquoise and pink bins from Michaels for my daily plans. I have two 3 drawer storage organizer to store paper, copies, and things to prep. On top of the shelf, there is a To Copy paper tray because that is what I end up reaching for the most. 
I used these Rainbow Cart Labels from Miss West Best. They are editable and match my classroom perfectly! The days of the week labels are actually from this Calendar Set from Love and Lessons, I printed extra and they ended up fitting in the adhesive labels on the bins. Score! 
How cute are these Pineapple Clock Numbers from All Kinds of Special?!?! 
This next area is my Art Center. At the beginning of the year, we use this space to do Letter Crafts, and by the end they are doing long vowel crafts and flip books! It's amazing how much they learn in a  year. 
 I redid these crate seats this summer, because mine were gross. They looked like they were brown chevron, not the pretty rainbow chevron they once were. My fabulous sister (who is a 1st Grade teacher) showed me this idea of using a shower curtain OVER the fabric. So if there is a spill, accident, dirty hands, etc, you can just wipe clean. GENIUS! 
This is my Phonics board, where all the phonics crafts hang up to display. This little area under it is going to be my "Cool Down Corner". It's just two desks pushed together, and then I put extra fabric over it! 
Now...this is my FAVORITE area! My classroom library/reading corner! I use this chair to read aloud books, do our morning phonics lesson and our morning meeting time. 
 Here are the book bins with all the read aloud, sorted by holiday/theme. I find this the easiest way to look for a book. Library Labels by Natalie's Nook
I made this bench over the summer and can't wait for my students to get to sit and read there. The bookcases are from Target, I had one, so I just bought another and put them together. Once I saw this Pineapple Throw Pillow Case , I knew it would be so cute in my library area! These Chalkboard Posters are a freebie by Khrys Greco. 
These bins SAVE MY SANITY! When a student finished their work, they put it in the "Finished Work" bin. I can easily grab it the bin whenever it is overflowing starts to fill up and go through and check their work. If a student doesn't finish their work, it goes in the "Unfinished Work" bin. On Friday afternoons, I hand out all the papers in the unfinished work bin and students work on that. If they have no unfinished work, YAY!, then they get to pick a Fun Friday activity, like play-doh, STEM bins, or free draw. This really motivates my students to finish their center work!
Here is my Calendar area. This is the one part of my classroom that is not completely finished, because I add to it as the year goes on. The Calendar Cards are by Love and Lessons and the Calendar Inserts are by Extra Special Teaching. 
My birthday display is on the back of our cubbies this year! I am using whatever wall space I can get and this is the perfect place for birthdays. The apple border and "Best Day Ever" wall stickers are from the Target Dollar Spot. 

Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my classroom this year!