Elf on the Shelf has definitely been a new idea for me. Elf on the Shelf wasn’t around when my kids were little. My husband and I didn’t even tell our children that Santa was real … only that it was a fun story. I was happily raised believing Santa was only a story, and my husband wished he had been, too.
I also never believed in basing Christmas gifts on good behavior. Even with events like skating competitions, our rewards afterward were simply a celebration of hard work … never a reward for results. (See my son’s post “How to Get the Most out of a Skating Competition” and my post “Let Gratitude Carry You through the Competition Season.”)
Still, I think that Elf on the Shelf is a fun concept. I just think it needs a bit of tweaking for people like me to be comfortable with it. I’m excited this year to see some new variations of Elf on the Shelf that reinforce the important character trait of kindness.
Variations of Elf on the Shelf to Encourage Kindness
The Conscious Discipline Facebook page has a thread about using Elf on the Shelf to focus on love and positivity.
Jenny from Ignite Learning extends the Conscious Discipline idea at Ignite Learning in her post “Looking for Kindness with Elf on the Shelf” and at PreK + K Sharing in her post “Stuff Your Stockings with Sweetness.” I love the idea that the Elf might even surprise people with Random Acts of Kindness.
Anna from The Imagination Tree has “Kindness Elves: An Alternative Elf on the Shelf Tradition.” The concept and explanation behind the Kindness Elves is truly beautiful, and it’s something that would work well in many homes or classrooms. I think I might have some Kindness Elves around for grandchildren when they visit Grandpa and Grandma’s house!
To make it easier to use Kindness Elves, Amanda from The Educators’ Spin On It offers “Kindness Elves Free Printables for Busy Parents.”
Amy from Consider Me Inspired has “24 Days of Elf Kindness – A List for Kids.”
Of course, I’ll use “A Montessori Approach to Praise” in anything I do. (Note: Elves, obviously, aren’t a Montessori concept, which emphasizes activities based on reality for young children. I’m a progressive Montessorian, so I’m not afraid of using activities with fantasy for children who would understand and enjoy them.)
Using a variation of Elf on the Shelf to encourage kindness could be adapted for many different types of homes and classrooms. You wouldn’t need to do something new every day, and you could start at any time in December. Maybe you only want to have the Kindness Elf or Elves out for a few days. That would be fine. I always had problems consistently doing Christmas countdown activities every day for 25 days.
Just do what’s meaningful and fun for you and your family. I’d love to hear if you use a variation of Elf on the Shelf to encourage kindness in your children and/or students.
Photo Credit: Background image by dazdraperma.
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