If you live in the United States, you have probably heard of Elf on the Shelf. It is a HUGE craze right now, and I would say that 90% of my students have an elf at home. I love the magic of this. It is right up my ally. As someone that does leprechaun hunts and has had a fairy door in her classroom, I am more than happy to welcome some elves in too. However, I don’t love the theory behind it. Here is a little elf who will spy on you, report to Santa, and decide whether you get presents. In fact, I have been a little unhappy with what the Santa story has become as well. My husband and I decided last year that we were not going to go with the “He knows when you’ve been bad or good” Santa, as we don’t want our daughter’s behavior to be manipulated by material things.
So, with these misgivings, I haven’t jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon. However, this year I read this FANTASTIC post by Anna at the Imagination Tree, and I knew I had found a kindred spirit. The kindness elves solve all of my concerns. They bring magic into the home, or classroom, and they inspire kind and giving acts – just because.
So, this year I found some adorable little kindness elves. I found my elves at a specialty gift shop, but I know you could make your own as well. I have a set for home, and a set for school. Each day they are hiding (or not hiding) in a new, funny place.
And each day they offer a little kindness challenge. Here are a few of the things we have done in my classroom:
1. Remember to use the words “please” and “thank you” with everyone you meet.
2. Be an extra kind, welcoming friend to our new student (very timely for us.)
3. Ask someone to play that you don’t usually play with.
4. Bring in an extra fifty cents for someone else to get a bag of popcorn on popcorn day, or donate your own popcorn (this was a very exciting endeavor!) We gave popcorn to many staff members that often go unnoticed (cafeteria staff, custodians, etc).
5. Let a friend go first – in line, at a game, etc.
At home, the challenges were slightly different. The kindness elves challenged my daughter to:
1. Make a thank you card for her pediatrician (she was having a visit that day.)
2. Leave a pile of pennies at the ride on horse at the supermarket so other children could ride for free.
3. Choose a tag from the giving tree. Buy, wrap, and the deliver the gift.
4. Help with a chore around the house.
We are mid-way with our adventure, so there will be more to come! What I love is that this twist is highlighting the good we can do each day, in small and large ways, to help others.
What are your thoughts on the Elf on a Shelf?