an elf on the shelf doll on a potted plant
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25 Really Easy Elf On The Shelf Ideas For Really Busy Teachers

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Elf on the Shelf has become a crazy phenomenon, with parents getting more and more creative each year to find new hiding places and hijinks for the family elf. Why does the fun have to stop at home, though? If the entire purpose of the Elf on the Shelf is to keep kids on their best behavior, I'd say teachers need an Elf more than anyone. Teachers are overworked as it is. Steal these 25 easy Elf on the Shelf ideas for teachers, and you'll get to join in the fun without needing a ton of creativity or extra time!

While many students will be familiar with the rules of Elf on the Shelf, you'll want to explain them all thoroughly before you get started. If a student hasn't experienced Elf on the Shelf before, it's important they don't feel out of the loop. Kick off the fun by reading the Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, and inviting your students to brainstorm and vote on a name for the classroom Elf. Most importantly, remind students that no one is allowed to touch the Elf, ever. Once everyone understands the story behind Elf on the Shelf and how it works, let the fun begin.


Camping Out In A Book "Tent"

Prop up a classroom book so that the spine is in the air, forming a miniature tent for your Elf, and sit them up inside. If you've got a little extra time, set up a few more books to form an entire campground, and create some circle "campfires" with stones or classroom supplies.


Bungee Jumping From A Backpack Hook

Tie a piece of string or yarn around your Elf's feet, and suspend them from a backpack hook or cubby. Explain to your students that clearly, your Elf is an adrenaline junkie.


Hiding Candy Canes

Give your students a bit of a challenge (with a sweet reward). Post your Elf somewhere in the classroom with a note that says they've hidden X amount of mini candy canes. Set a timer, and have your students go on a candy cane hunt.


Making Marshmallow Snow Angels


Grab a bag of mini marshmallows and spread them out on your desk or other available surface. Lay your elf on the marshmallows and form a snow angel pattern within them.


Wrapped Up In Tape

Your Elf got into trouble with some school supplies while the classroom was empty, and somehow ended up tangled in tape. Get them nice and wrapped in the tape, and leave the tape dispenser nearby so they can get caught redhanded by your students.


Telling The Time

Tape your Elf to the classroom clock, with their arms pointing to numbers like the hands of a clock. Once your kids discover their new hiding place, give a piece of candy to the first kid who can decipher the time it's displaying.


Sleeping In The Tissue Box

The classroom tissue box is the perfect size bed for an Elf. Tuck them under a few tissues, and don't forget to prop up their head with a tissue pillow. Clearly, their trek to and from the North Pole wore them out.


Rappelling Down The Dry Erase Board

Your thrill-seeking Elf is at it again, this time rappelling down your dry erase or chalkboard. Attach string or yarn to their hands and suspend them from the ceiling or top of the board. Then, tape their feet to the board as if they're propelling themselves with their feet.


Enjoying Some Reading Time

Turns out, your Elf is also a bookworm. Prop them up in the reading corner with a good book, and encourage kids to follow their example and read quietly.


Pledging Allegiance To The Flag

If you've got an American flag in your classroom, suspend your Elf from the flag's pole. Another option is to prop them up in front of the flag, with their hand over their heart (with the help of some tape).


Spelling Out A Message With School Supplies

Use paperclips, pencils, erasers, beads, or whatever other supply you have available to spell out a message to your students. Something like "Be good," "Listen up," or "Work hard" should do the trick.


Making Photocopies Of Themselves

Your students will crack up at the thought of your Elf squeezing himself into the photocopy machine after hours. Print out a few images, and scatter them around your Elf on the floor. It's their version of a selfie!


Writing Their Gift Wish List


Even Elves make wish lists. Prop them up on the dry erase board, and write out a few hypothetical gifts they might ask for. Make sure to leave the marker in their lap.


Getting Trapped In The Marker Bin

If you've got any clear supply bins in your classroom, tuck your Elf inside one next to a Post-It reading "Help me!" Luckily, your Elf will magically escape the bin the next night.


E-mailing Santa The Naughty & Nice List

Your Elf has to keep Santa updated. Let students discover the Elf typing up an e-mail or writing up a letter to Santa with the naughty and nice list on it. Get a laugh by listing all the students under "nice" and yourself under "naughty."


Toilet Papering The Classroom

Grab a spare roll of toilet paper, and TP a section of the classroom. Leave the Elf propped up against the rest of the roll so students can catch them in the act.


Hiding Out In Someone's Desk

Pick a random student (ideally, a quieter student) and tuck the Elf into their desk or pencil box. While everyone else is scouring the classroom for the Elf, they'll be delighted to find them hiding out in their own belongings.


Enjoying The Listening Center

If your class has a listening area with headphones, let your Elf take advantage of it. Place them in a lounging position with the headphones against their head.


Drawing Graffiti In The Classroom

This idea is perfect for anyone with framed pictures in their classroom. Grab a dry erase marker, and "graffiti" the pictures over the glass – think devil horns, mustaches, and funny hats.


Playing A Classroom Game

If your class has a favorite game, obviously your Elf wants a turn. Set up a scene of them playing the game by themselves (or against a stuffed animal or other object, if you've got something that works).


Fishing In The Classroom Fish Tank

For classrooms fortunate enough to have a fish tank, pose your Elf with a toy fishing pole (or a pencil with string to it). Just make sure the kids know only Elves are allowed to try this one.


Putting A Puzzle Together

Super simple, not to mention fairly plausible (after all, a puzzle is a good solitary activity for an Elf to amuse himself with when he's all alone in the classroom at night).


Playing Tic-Tac-Toe

Pose your Elf and a stuffed animal or doll at the dry erase board and draw a few games of Tic-Tac-Toe (the Elf will most likely be the winner, right?).


Hanging From The Classroom Decorations


Ideal for a morning when you're pressed for time, this idea uses whatever holiday decoration you've already got going in the classroom as a starting point. Hang your Elf from paper chains or put him on top of the classroom Christmas tree... the possibilities are endless.


Giving Out Treats

If you're planning on sending your kids off for holiday break with a little treat (whether edible or not), pose your Elf as if he's in the process of leaving the gifts on each student's desk. The presents will be that much more exciting.

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