Monday, December 17, 2012

Toddler Activities: The Elf on the Shelf

By Deborah Pace Rowley
It seems that the elf on the shelf is all the rage right now. Everywhere you look there are posts about how to create the perfect elf mischief. My sister-in-law called and told me that her kids were envious of their friends who had an visiting elf. So she dressed a doll in a red outfit, stuck her on the shelf, and christened her the "doll on the wall!"

Not everyone is a fan of the naughty elf, however. I read one blogger who argued that if your kids need an elf to control their behavior, you are not doing your job as a parent. I have to admit I found it somewhat ironic when I learned that the elf was able to get away with all the behavior he was supposedly reporting. There are opinions on both sides but I liked my sister's perspective. She is a great mom and a super preschool teacher. She knows lots of effective discipline techniques. But she admits that she appreciates the little extra help that her elf provides during the holiday season. Combine all the parties and the sweets, the anticipation and disrupted routines and kid's behavior can quickly become out of control.

If you are in need of some extra mom reinforcement, you do not need to have the "real" toy elf and book to start your own "elf" tradition. I have a laminated Waldo that moves around my classroom regularly and keeps everyone searching for his whereabouts before and after their school day. (Maybe Waldo is also spying on the kids during the day.... if I could only find someone he could report to!)

Below is our free printable ELF that you can use to hide around your home during this Christmas season. Print him out on cardstock or laminate him for extra durability. You will find that he is even more nimble when hiding than his stuffed counterpart. He can hide under and behind things where the real elf wouldn't fit and he can provide lots of learning opportunities as you give clues to his location. You could even sing Christmas songs louder or softer depending on your child's proximity to the elf. He can also be a powerful reminder that Santa is watching so "you better be good for goodness sake." And toddlers can use all the reminders that they can get!

Print out our cute Elf here.

P.S. Tiff wanted me to tell you that the Rudd elf just hides. He doesn't  engage in mischief or he would be sent packing. Also, he is not the elf that comes with the book as Tiff finds him really creepy looking!

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