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    Earl, the Elf
    By Combow

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    The letter started out with "Good news; I'm back! I have been assigned to your classroom again this year per Santa's reqest. He recognizes that you have been a great help in keeping him informed about the "naughty and nice" students. In recognition of your years of service, I am at your service again."

    I have to admit that I am the cause to some of the chaos in our classroom. I come up with silly ideas that stir up the student excitement. Did I really have to increase the stimulation at this time of the year?

    The idea actually started brewing from PT. Someone posted a link to a site that led me to another side that introduced me to the commercial version of "Elf on a Shelf" idea. I decided to be cheap and adapt the idea to my 4th grade classroom but use one of my garden gnomres that looks like an elf. Earl arrived in a big read package with a huge bow with his opening letter.

    "I will meet with you on a regular basis to compare notes and discuss the data that I will collect. This information will assist you when you compile the Annual Report for Santa. Enclosed you will find the preliminary report that has been compiled on each of the students. Some have once again made the good list so far, some are on the naught list, but they are not a lost cause yet. They still have time before Christmas. Lots of your students are on the limbo list- not good enough to have earned a spot on the good list, and not bad enough to be on the naughty list. I sure hope they make wise choices between now and Christmas to earn a spot on that good list."

    I know what you're thinking- 4th graders don't still believe in Santa, but I find that it's about 50-50. And the ones who claim they don't, still want to believe. Around Thanksgiving when the question first comes up whe have a discussion about "beliefs" and how because we are a public shool it is the law that we don't push our beliefs on each other, just respect and honor the differences. Plus, I still believe in Santa and I will ALWAYS believe!

    So Earl has been writing us letters daily. It was great while I was out for three days for professional development but still stopping by daily to gather information and drop off the letter. The guest teacher was amazed at how the students bought into the elf letters and really thought he was the one who was monitoring their behavior. The students have been writing individual letters to Earl. (We just finished a friendly letter unit, so this was a perfect continuation.) Earl writes them personal letters back withpersonal comments about successes and hints to do better. They run into the classroom to check their desks to see if they have a note and then they share it with the class.

    Earl's brother Elvis, came to visit the classroom Thursday night. Earl had warned us all about Elvis. He is full of the dickens and often creates problems. Thursday night he tore through the game cupboard looking for a game. We found all of our games dumped in the center of our classroom.

    "I am soooooooo SORRY! I told him to stop but he didn't listen. Elvis stopped by last night. I knew there would be trouble. He wanted to play some game and he was sure you had it. PLINKO? He seen it on the TV show The Price is Right. He just kept pulling all the games out and throwing them all over the place I told him to stop. At one point there were game pieces and cards and boards flying throught the air and I had to hide under the desks for my own saftety. I did pick it up a little bit. At least now the game stuff is centrally located. Just leave the mess and I'll get to it this weekend. But it's going to be very difficult (because of my short, little legs and arms) but I'll manage somehow. After all he is my brother. Hey, any of you want a brother? I won't even charge you! He's free! Just let me know!"

    My sweet students decided to help poor Earl out and sort all of the mess and put it away. While we did this we repaired boxes, got rid of the old games, and organized the game cupboard. It is all ready for the new games that will arrive after Christmas with the annual $30 gift that the PTA gives to each classroom to buy inside recess games. Elvis' shenanigans helped me do something I needed to do. How advantageous!

    Earl travels around the classroom and tries to find hiding spots that give him the best vantage points to watch the kids, usually it's his red pointy hat that gives him away. At night he plays checkers with Gned, our classroom guard gnome, or reads books that the sudents have recommended to him in their letters. This weekend he's even coming over on Sunday to have dinner with my husband and me. He likes my husband; they talk about nature and the outdoors.

    Even though it has created some additional excitement in the classroom, it definitely has put a smile in me. I can't expose the giggles and smiles that I have about observing my students buy into Earl, the elf. Plus, I am a believer!

    :) Smiles: My students, my sanctuary, my life, my passion!
    I am blessed to be in the classroom with my kids! My personal life is in total upheaval right now. It is wonderful to throw myself into teaching to escaped the reality of my home life. With them I get to laugh, love, learn, live, and smile! :)

    View the original thread this idea was posted on



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