20 Fun and Easy Classroom Elf on the Shelf Ideas

My most favorite time of year is December holidays. I love doing Holidays Around the World, putting up classroom decorations, and of course having an Elf on the Shelf! Having a classroom elf is a little different than having an elf at home. There are different factors to consider because it’s a little more complicated having 30 or so kiddos excited about the elf all at once! Because I love my elf so much, I’m going to share with you my list of my top 20 Elf on the Shelf classroom ideas!

What is Elf on the Shelf?

This is a super fun tradition! Santa sends an Elf on the Shelf from the North Pole to report back to him each night about the behavior of the kids around him. When he returns each morning from the North Pole, however, he often gets into some mischief before everyone wakes up!

There is one rule that the elf shares with the children, and that rule says that they must never touch the elf. If they do, that poor little elf will lose its Christmas magic! Then he or she will have to return to the North Pole, and won’t come back anymore.

However, I will say that we break this rule most years. Usually Santa sends a letter explaining how the students can help him get his magic back (after a few sad days, of course). This often involves apology letters, classroom cleaning, and a lot of kindness.

Having Elf on the Shelf in a Classroom

My elf comes back each year on December first. Santa drops him off personally in a package addressed to our class. We all sit on the big carpet and open it up. Inside the package, we find a letter written by Santa and the storybook Elf on the Shelf. We read the book together, which lays out the story and the rule for when our elf appears the following day.

With instructions to give our elf a name when he arrives, we begin brainstorming. Each kiddo writes a name for the elf on a post-it, and we read them all (removing duplicates). Then we put a big graph on the SMARTboard and vote on the name we like best. When our elf arrives the next day, we can tell him what his name is!

Each morning when my kids arrive, they immediately begin looking for our elf. He’s usually got himself mixed up in some trouble! Other times he brings a treat or even a warning from Santa if my kiddos had a rough day the day before.

On the last school day before Christmas break, our elf is gone! But he leaves a note explaining that he has to help Santa get ready for the big day. He also leaves a gift for each kiddo – one wrapped book for each kiddo. We all unwrap them together and take them home to keep and read.

The Classroom Elf

Now we’re getting to the good stuff! The elf is doing something different each day, so I need to be prepped and ready for whatever he’s doing. I created a list that I use each year in my classroom, though not in any particular order. I print it out, and keep it in my planner. When I use an idea from the list, I check it off so I don’t repeat it later.

I also try to keep it as simple (but fun) as possible. I buy a lot for my class, and I’m not looking to spend a fortune each day. That being said, there are a couple days I buy ingredients for hot cocoa and candy canes. It is December, after all!

Without further ado, here is a list of 20 low-prep ideas, most with things you already have!

Classroom Elf on the Shelf Ideas

  1. The elf decorates: I always do this on his first day. The elf hangs from a string of lights that he’s hung up around our classroom.
  2. He’s so tired: he is sleeping inside the tissue box covered in a tissue blanket.
  3. Paint time: he’s sitting on my easel with a paintbrush in hand and some artwork taped to the easel.
  4. The elf changes the alphabet: he crosses off the word that his name begins with on our alphabet poster, and replaces it with his own name. (For example, “B is for Buddy!”)
  5. Treat day: elf brings candy canes for a treat at the end of the day.
  6. Yum: the elf brings ingredients to make hot cocoa in the crockpot!
  7. The elf doesn’t appear – he leaves a letter saying we were too loud and he’s got a headache.
  8. The elf shows up in the classroom next door – he got lost last night!
  9. Friends: elf and Piggie (a classroom stuffed animal) build with blocks.
  10. Elf is reading a book in the classroom library.
  11. The elf is having a snowball fight (cotton balls) with Piggie.
  12. The elf is hanging on the document camera – so every time we use it, his face is in the corner of the picture!
  13. Big mess: the elf dumps out the pencil baskets, a desk or bins in the Fun Friday center.
  14. Playing dress-up: he dresses like a Christmas tree and hides in the branches of a small tree he brought just for our class.
  15. Ornaments: the elf brings paper ornaments and yarn. The kids get to decorate their ornament and hang it on the tree.
  16. Bath time: the elf is in a plastic book bin by the sink, which he has turned into a bubble bath (cotton balls)!
  17. Writing: the elf uses magnetic letters to spell a message to the kiddos on the whiteboard.
  18. Listening: the elf sits criss-cross on an alphabet square on the class carpet.
  19. Making a list: the elf writes his Christmas list in the writing center.
  20. Goodbye: the elf is gone, and he leaves a letter and presents under the class tree.

Want more Elf on the Shelf ideas, plus the materials to pull off an amazing holiday season in your classroom?

Download them here FOR FREE!

Just have fun!

I hope this list has given you some inspiration for your elf’s adventures! My last piece of advice is to remember to have fun. December stresses us out as teachers, and we shouldn’t let it. I often have to stop and remember that this is a magical time for our kiddos at school. They love every little bit of it, and it’s totally worth it!

Update: click here for a new blog post I wrote with virtual ideas for doing a classroom Elf on the Shelf in 2020.

I may earn a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase through any links in this post.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *