15 Elf on the Shelf Classroom Ideas That Add Some Holiday Magic

Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom
Jeanne Sager

Written by Jeanne Sager

It’s hard to believe the Elf on the Shelf book and poseable friend first came out in 2005. Now not only parents but teachers have taken the little elf and turned him into a holiday must-have, with creative new creations popping up on social media feeds … and in classrooms … every day throughout the holidays! Looking for Elf on the Shelf activities for your classroom Elf? We talked to teachers and found out some of their favorite ways to use their Elf on the Shelf in their classrooms!

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Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

Elf on the Shelf Classroom Ideas

Never done Elf on the Shelf with your students? You can order a book and Elf kit together or just get a stand-alone Elf. You can also substitute your own holiday-themed creature. A snowman might make a nice secular option!

Meanwhile, check out these fun ideas for making your classroom magical this Christmas with a little help from a special visitor … your very own Elf on the Shelf!

Elf Arrival

The Elf on the Shelf tradition has grown so huge that many kids may already have their own special holiday friend at home. But for those who aren’t familiar, a reading of The Elf on the Shelf  – A Christmas Tradition can help acquaint them with the story.

Choosing a Name for Your Classroom Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom - name your elf

When your elf arrives from the North Pole, he or she won’t have a name! Your class will have to decide on a name together. Meet Teach Starter’s own Elf, Tinsel!

(We used our Landscape Christmas Page Border, printed on cardstock, to brainstorm ideas!)

Classroom Rules

Elf on the Shelf with classroom rules

Kids love their elves, and we love how teacher Tiffany Hicks of North Carolina (@tiffteachessecond on Instagram) uses her classroom Elf on the Shelf to gently remind her students of classroom rules! It’s like having a friend at your side to help the students remember!

Official Letterhead of the North Pole

Elf on the shelf in a jar with north pole letter

Letters from your Elf on the Shelf — or rules — are extra fun on “official” North Pole stationery!

We used Christmas-themed page borders to write special notes from the Teach Starter elf to kids!

In the Tree

Elf on the Shelf wearing a mask in a Christmas tree

There are plenty of places your Elf can hang out appearance, but if you’ve got a holiday tree in your classroom, this is a must! Third-grade teacher Stephanie Rhea (@thirdgradefarmhouse on Instagram) shares that her classroom elf has “special moving gloves” so she could place him in her tree … to the delight of her class. After all, it’s the golden rule of the Elf on the Shelf that humans aren’t allowed to touch them.

No Touching!

Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom - elf repair kit

Speaking of no touching … we all know that sometimes students just can’t help themselves. That’s where an ‘Elf Repair Kit’— a small packet of glitter to restore Elf on the Shelf magic in case the elf is accidentally touched — comes in handy!

(We used one of our customizable Holiday-Themed Desk Name Tags to label our Tinsel’s little repair kit.)

Elf Hot Cocoa

Elf on the shelf in hot cocoa cup

Grab the mini marshmallows for this fun Elf on the Shelf classroom idea from Georgia teacher Courtney Streeter (@kindergarten.with.courtney on Instagram). Her kindergarten class watches The Polar Express and enjoys hot cocoa — and so does their Elf on the Shelf. Elfie of course gets a little creative with his marshmallows!

Enlist Santa’s Helpers

Teachers are always busy, but particularly so at the end of the year!

Don’t be afraid to get some help with your Elf on the Shelf activities, whether it’s to lighten your load or to add to the magic for your students. Some teachers have a member of the administration team deliver the package containing the elf on the first day. Others have a neighboring teacher move their Elf on the Shelf after school to add an element of surprise (for you, too!) or well, because we have all had that moment when you leave for the day and then remember “I FORGOT TO MOVE MY ELF!”

Joking Around With Your Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf - Elf Jokes

We have a resource in our huge collection of Christmas resources  – these Holiday Joke Cards. These are elf-approved, kid-safe jokes your students are going to love!


Elf on the Shelf - in the Ipad

Leave a little “elfie” for your students to find on any screens you have in your room — iPads, laptops, and interactive whiteboards are all great places for cheeky elves to hide!

Toasty Elf on the Shelf

elf on the shelf with a piece of toast

South Carolina teacher Madison Hines (@spedventuresinkindergarten on Instagram) has one of the easiest ideas we’ve seen for an Elf on the Shelf in the classroom: Grab a piece of toast before you leave the house, and write a little note from your Elf on the Shelf about the weather!

Playing Twister

Elf on the Shelf Playing Twister

This is another fun one from Madison Hines! Set your Elf up to play Twister! Madison made her own Twister card (so creative), but if you want to make this Elf on the Shelf idea even easier, print a fun twist up game board.

Class Rewards From Your Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf - Class Rewards

Sarah, Sunnybank Hills State School

Elves are very good at spotting great work and behavior! Usually, they report good deeds back to Santa, but they are great at helping teachers, too! Have your elf keep an eye on your students and allocate rewards, points, or warm fuzzies to groups or individuals. Just make sure your elf can be trusted with the prize box!

Don’t Let the Elf Drive the Bus!

Elf on the shelf - on the bus

Andrea, Sunnybank Hills State School

If you look around your classroom you’ll probably find several instant Elf on the Shelf set-ups. We love this amazing VW bus that teacher Andrea made for her students’ fundraising lap-a-thon earlier in the year! It’s a perfect hideout for their elves!

Elf Stocking

Elf on the Shelf in classroom stocking

This is another super simple Elf on the Shelf classroom idea: If you’ve got classroom stockings, borrow this quick idea from teacher Maggie (@maggietheteacher83 on Instagram). Just stick the elf inside to hang out for a day!

We hope you LOVE our Elf on the Shelf ideas for the classroom and can’t wait to see lots of elf high jinks over on Instagram using #teachstarterus!

For more incredible Christmas Teaching Resources and Activities, check out our full collection:

Christmas teaching resources collection with Santa

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