Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Elf on the Shelf in the classroom

I just love the holidays. This is absolutely my favorite time of the year. Teaching third grade, there is something magical about my students at this time of year, too. Maybe its because this is one of the last years where they whole-heartedly believe in Santa. 

I've been laughing over some of the cute pins I've seen of Elf on the Shelf ideas and since the W household won't be having any kiddos for many Christmases to come, I decided to get an Elf for my class. He arrived last Monday in a freezing cold box straight from the North Pole. I wish I had taken a picture of it in the morning when I prepared it, but I totally forgot in the hurry to get everything for the day ahead ready. I wrapped the elf up with a letter from Santa in red bulletin board paper, addressed it to our class, and put a pretend stamp on. Then, I put the box in the freezer for a half an hour while I got everything else ready for the day and started morning meeting. I asked my morning parapro to take a form down to the office for me and she returned carrying the package, saying it had just been delivered. The kids were ecstatic when we opened the package and they named our elf Jingles. We sat Jingles on top of our bookshelf then went about our morning routine. 
The kids had gym in the classroom because there was a holiday concert rehearsal in the gym. Luckily, while I was making copies, we had a fire drill. I came outside and met up with my class, who were in gym. They finished up gym outside (where the game was going to happen anyway) and when everyone got back inside, our sneaky little elf had changed the date on the white board to December 25.
I found some cute freebies on teachers pay teachers and made my kids an elf journal to record Jingles' mischief. They have to complete it in their own time (snack, after morning work, etc.) and it isn't required but they all seem to be interested in doing it. 
Some of my kiddos took it upon themselves to write letters to Jingles in their spare time. 
And not wanting to open a can of worms for the next fourteen days, Jingles wrote one form letter back.
On Tuesday, sneaky Jingles was hiding on top of the projector for the smart board. At some point during the day, he fell off, which the kids loved because they though he was so intently listening to our discussion that he slipped off. Luckily Jingles was unharmed so I sat him back on the shelf. Only adults are allowed to touch Santa's scout elves, as you may remember from the book. We went about our business and then as we were cleaning up our Daily 5 centers, the unthinkable happened. Someone touched the elf. 

Most of my kiddos thought this wouldn't be a big deal but a couple of them were really stressing over it. And sure enough, when they came in in the morning, Jingles still sat right where we left him and all their letters were left unanswered. The only thing that was different, was that there was a letter from Santa. I wrote a pretty cute little poem about the situation but I'll keep in private in case I ever want to do an elf on the shelf unit on teachers pay teachers. Some of my students were really upset but I thought this was a good teachable moment about following directions. They wrote apology letters to Santa and I hurried out at lunch to mail them to the North Pole. 
Even after apologizing, nothing changed. Jingles sat still all day. He was even still sitting in the same place the next morning. But there was another letter waiting from Santa. Inside was a second letter and a package of elf magic recover dust, which I sprinkled on Jingles.
Jingles probably would have stayed still for one more day to finish teaching a lesson about following directions, but one of my students' elves was hiding in her bookbag that morning so I felt like they needed to get into some mischief together. At lunch, they made a snowflake chain but left all the scrap pieces of paper on the carpet for us to clean up. Naughty, naughty elves but boy were my third graders happy that Jingles had his magic back.
My kids made paper ornaments for our little desktop tree throughout the week. Then, on Friday, Jingles hung a gold garland to help decorate the tree. Ten more days until break - I wonder what mischief he'll get into between now and then. ;)

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