The Elf Not On the Shelf

(The author (me) of this blog would like you to know that although not seasonal in any way, she loves the subject of this slice, namely teaching all what children need, and therefore would still ask your indulgence as she shares it)

“Don’t touch!” “What is it?” I think it’s our elf.” “We have an elf?” “Bzzzzbzzzzbzzz.”

It was Tuesday, December 3rd, the first day back after Thanksgiving. The children were gathered in the back of the room and they were all abuzz. At first I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about. Then I remembered, it was Karl!

I wandered back to where they were gathered and feigned ignorance. (Truly I deserved an Academy Award!)

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“There’s an elf,” one said.

“What do you mean, an elf?” I asked.

They proceeded to explain to me that an elf was here. And they had found him like they were supposed to do. They explained that they couldn’t touch him or he wouldn’t come back and they were pretty sure they should be quiet too. They knew I was clueless to elves because we had had a conversation and they told me all about their “Elves on the Shelves”. I told them I had never heard of these elves and stated that an elf never visited my classroom before. So they knew I needed to catch up!

“His name is Karl,” one said. “Karl?” I said, “How do you know.” “Look,” they replied, “He wrote us a letter.” Someone handed me the letter. (Apparently it was ok to touch this!) The letter explained that the elf’s name was Karl and he was a KCT elf. No one (ahem, maybe no one) knew what KCT meant but everyone was very excited to have an elf. The funny thing was that they were excited, but they weren’t surprised. To them it was normal to have an elf in December.

So let me back up. About a month earlier I decided to bring the “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon into my classroom, but with a twist. This elf would teach the kids about Kindness, Caring, and Thoughtfulness, hence, he was a KCT elf! Karl wrote the class letters and even wrote to each child individually over the course of the month of December. He was a good observer and commented on the children’s good traits and encouraged them to strive to be even better.

He was a huge hit! He noticed children who listened well, who helped each other, who set good examples for others, and who showed KCT. The children wrote him notes. They made him things. And they looked forward every day to see who he would recognize and what skills he would notice about them and encourage them to work on. He was a busy elf!

So, will I do it again. Absolutely! It was a lot of work but it allowed me to be a one on one teacher for each child over the course of a month. They would read the letters from Karl at morning meeting and their faces just shone as they read the things he noticed about them. They also took his ideas very seriously. We had post-its on desks with lists of goals and names of friends who were demonstrating good behavior. We were handing out compliments to each other the same way Karl was handing them out to us. And now Karl is a character from our lives who we can conjure up the same way we conjure up book characters.

Karl rocked!

5 thoughts on “The Elf Not On the Shelf

  1. Oh, Suzanne! This is wonderful! You think of so many great ideas and your students are the better for it. Building community and becoming the best versions of themselves. I love your blog and your genius spin on Elf on a Shelf. Now if you could market that, it would be even better! Then the whole purpose of the elf would be for giving and not getting – what a concept! Thank you for a priceless glimpse into the community you have created and the kind and caring humans that you care for. I loved reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you brought The Elf into your room with your own KCT twist making him magical and believable to your students. In 20 years, when a student is asked what he/ she remembers about your classroom/grade…it will be what The Elf wrote to them. And some will probably have saved the letter. Wonderful job! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a nice slice! I loved the description you used when sharing how the students found the elf and you played clueless. Such a fun and clever way to reach every student with the message of kindness and caring. I hope Karl makes a yearly appearance!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! We started the Elf on the Shelf at home when my daughter (now 10) was about 2 – and if I’m being honest I regret that I ever introduced him to our home! I set daily calendar reminders but I’ve come so close to forgetting so many times! (I haven’t yet completely forgotten – but I’ve definitely shot out of bed at 4 in the morning suddenly remembering him in my sleep). He gives me anxiety! (But I’m sure your students LOVE your KCT elf, just as my kids love our elf at home!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. He was a big hit. A lot of work! And the beauty of this elf is I don’t have to do it ever again if I don’t think I can manage it. I liked it though, I think I’ll do it again.


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