New Holiday Traditions

11471837784_55ab7479e5_qMy children were dismayed to find that they were among the few who still did not  have an Elf on the Shelf toy doll this holiday season. Apparently,  groups of children begin their day at school by sharing news about their elves at home. What elves? Are you as clueless as I was?

Elf on the Shelf is a storybook that is also sold with a toy elf. The elf supposedly reports back to Santa each night about the children. Were they naughty or nice? Then the elf has the rest of the night to have fun. Each morning the kids race around to find the elf doll in a new place. Often these mischievous elves are found in silly circumstances, for instance, surrounded by late night snacks or with a video game remote control in hand.

I broke down a few days ago and decided to buy my children their own elf, whom they named Benny. Benny ends up in a different spot each morning. Today they found him in the kitchen with a paintbrush. There was some red paint on the brush. It seems he had been painting.

Whether you choose to have an elf, a toy snowman, or some other holiday figure, you could have some ESL fun this month! In each new class, ask your beginners where the little guy is. He or she will be in a different spot each time. Practice your prepositions of location: on the shelf, next to the board, etc. On sites like Pinterest you’ll see many shared photos posted by creative parents. You can ask your intermediate level students either what the elves are doing in the photos or what they had been doing. Advanced students can speculate what the elves must have been or could have been doing at night.

My next Language Notes lesson will be on homophones, homographs, and homonyms, my attention has remained on this topic since last week. If you’d like to tie this topic to the holiday season, please consider my Produce Some Produce_handout.


Photo credit:

“When Will Santa’s List Be Digital?” by Kevin Dooley

Retrieved from the Creative Commons on Flickr



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lauren Smith says:

    I just can’t buy that Elf. Every time I look into his eyes at the store, I pass him on by. He just creeps me out! I like the idea of choosing a different toy to be the “Elf on the Shelf.” My students would really like it. Have you heard of the book called, “Creating Hate: How It Is Done, How To Destroy It: A Practical Handbook,” by author Nancy Omeara? I think every teacher should have a copy. It’s an instant classic – will open your eyes!

    1. Hi Lauren. Thanks for checking out the post. I think every classroom, like any family, can start their own traditions and games. A toy snowman would work well in the classroom. “Where’s Frosty?” or “What has Frosty been up to?” could be quick little warm-up questions around the holidays.

      No, I don’t know that book title, but around this time of the year, peace is a welcome topic.

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