Elf Activities: Bringing People Together!

Are you feeling isolated this holiday season? Looking for ways to bring your remote students together? Have family members who are staying home or unable to gather for the holidays? Use these little mischievous elves to spread smiles - even across the miles!

Elf on the Shelf History

Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, wrote a children's book about their Christmas tradition, the Elf on the Shelf. This rhyming story is about mischievous elves who help children to behave as they observe children's actions and magically fly back each night to Santa to report who has been naughty or nice. These little imps love to stir up trouble and can be found each morning in some compromising places doing ridiculous things!

Elf on the Shelf book and doll on Amazon.

Image of Elf on the Shelf book cover and Elf on the Shelf doll.

Traditional Elf on the Shelf Rules

New to the Elf on the Shelf tradition, but too embarrassed to ask how this thing works? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 7 rules for Santa’s devilish little helper. 

  1. He or she needs a name. And usually these are very silly (think Twinkle Toes).
  2. He or she arrives whenever you want. Traditionally, Elf on the Shelf arrives after Thanksgiving or at the beginning of December.
  3. He or she moves every night while the kids are sleeping. (Hint: Set an alarm on your phone, because you will forget.)
  4. He or she watches over the kids all day and reports back to Santa on their behavior at night.
  5. The kids can't touch their Elf. Otherwise he or she will "disappear."
  6. Elf does not move or speak while the kids are awake.
  7. He or she leaves before Christmas.

2020 Twist of Elf on the Shelf

2020 has flipped our classrooms and our worlds upside down! But these little Christmas Elves are still watching over children and bringing a little magic to everyone they meet! Ask your students to share pictures (with alt tag descriptions of course!) about their little elf.

  • If your student is young, encourage the family to participate and create scenarios for the delinquent elf. Students can "find" and take pictures of the elf  to share with the class.
  • If your student is older, have the student create scenarios for the prankster elf. Students can share pictures with the class.

Or, extended family members (and friends) who live in different places can join the fun! Each family will create scenarios and share pictures through a group email or text. This is a wonderful activity to do with grandparents or other family members who are not able to join in holiday get togethers this year!

Note: Do not have an Elf on the Shelf? No worries! Christmas Elves have recruited their cousins and friends! Other "elves" can be substituted, including gnomes, dolls, action figures, or small stuffed animals. If possible, the substitute should be dressed in holiday colors or outfits.

Sitting on shelf are: gnome with dangling legs, elf in red and white striped pans, red vest and scarf, and Christmas house holding an ornament.

Related Classroom Activities

Here are a few elf-themed writing prompts:

  • I named my elf ____ because he/she . . . 
  • The funniest thing my elf did was  . . . 
  • The messiest thing my elf did was . . . 
  • If my elf could tell a story about himself or herself, it would be . . . (written from the elf's perspective).
  • When my elf flew to the North Pole last night, he told Santa . . . 
  • When my mom saw what the elf did last night . . . !
  • In the summer, my elf did . . . 
  • Describe the magic that enables the to fly back and forth to the North Pole.

Ask your student to write a unique story using elf-themed words. Here are some examples of words that might be used:

  • Imp
  • Fairy
  • Brownie
  • Gnome
  • Goblin
  • Pixie
  • Folklore
  • Ba hum bug
  • Grinch
  • Naughty
  • Nice
  • Mischievous
  • Misbehaving
  • Disobedient
  • Trouble
  • Prank
  • Delinquent

Elf Poem

How does Santa know if you’re good or bad?

Does he call or text your Mom or Dad?

Is he watching you both day and night?

Does he follow you close and not let you out of sight?

No, Santa has help to keep an eye on you,

He assigns an elf to each family to see all they do.

I’ll be watching to see if you follow and obey,

The rules and things your parents have to say.

I’ll keep track of each deed, yep, every single one.

It is my job to tell Santa the things you have done.

So, each night I use magic to fly to the North Pole.

Nice kids get presents, naughty one’s get coal.

After I deliver my report to Saint Nick,

I get back to your house super fast and right quick.

Every morning you must try to find me,

In whatever hiding place I might be.


Before my job starts, there are two rules you must know,

First you can’t touch me, or I lose magic and must go.

Second, I need a name and it must come from the heart.

Picks something special and my magic will start.

Remember to be good and spread holiday cheer.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Elf Poem Here

Share your Elf images and stories in the comments below!

Elf Activity Pinterest tag


Posted by Diane BraunerDec 17, 2020

Elf reading a book.

[Image: Elf laying in a toilet paper hammock reading a newspaper with "Fake News" headline.]

Elf laying in a toilet paper hammock reading a paper (with headline "fake news")


Posted by Diane BraunerDec 17, 2020

This Elf is stirring things up!

[Image: Elf dangling upside down from cabinet knobs holding a spoon over a crockpot of homemade chicken and dumplings.]

Elf hanging upside down from cabinet knobs holding a spoon over a crockpot of homemade chicken and dumplings

Posted by Diane BraunerDec 22, 2020

Chief (short for "Mischief") wanted to see how long a roll of toilet paper was.

[Image: Toilet paper at the top of the stairs unrolled partially down the steps with elf holding the end of the toilet paper.]

Toilet paper at the top of the stairs unrolled partially down the steps with elf holding the end of the toilet paper.