My boys are older now, but I admit I was sucked into the Elf on the Shelf phenomena (not to be confused with The Mensch on the Bench lol). It was such a genius idea from a local author, Carol Aebersold , to celebrate a family tradition. This was in the pre-Pinterest era (aka the “olden days”), thank goodness. All that glossy, professionally lighted creativity gives me anxiety as a mama! But soon the fun story and process of coming up with mildly naughty adventures for our elf (Elwood) became a bit daunting. Elwood wrapped my car completely in streamers, spelled out my youngest son’s name on his bed in underwear (hilarious for a 6 year old boy, I promise) and hid in our Christmas tree at the last minute when I woke up late and had forgotten to plan the night before. He always left a note saying good bye before heading back to the North Pole. As my boys grew older, we passed our elf along to a younger cousin (I so owe my sister in law some good wine for that).
Looking back at those Christmas memories, it dawned on me that Elwood’s adventures would be a fun way to work on the Social Thinking concepts of Expected and Unexpected behaviors with my social skills groups. My kids always had hilarious stories of the unpredictable situations their own elves got into (God bless their mamas!) and this can evolve into a fun lesson on what the unexpected might make us think, feel or say. You can take it a step farther and set up some predictable and unpredictable settings around your school or therapy setting with your elf. Snap some pictures on your iphone or ipad to use in therapy this month. You can add some other characters (such as a stuffed reindeer, some older students or even your principal, if they are game) to add perspective taking skills to your pictures. What are the others in the picture thinking, feeling or saying in the situation? A fellow slp blogger, Activity Tailor, had posted a link to these cute headband thought bubbles that would be perfect to use in this activity too. You could even make a tiny one to add to your elves!
You can extend the social language concepts by talking about hidden rules, identifying the right timing/people/place of being funny, and predicting what might happen next! If you click over to the Elf on the Shelf official website HERE, they also have a school resource page with free, common core related activities and printables for your K-5 kiddos! Easy, inexpensive and seasonal fun for your younger students? Now that’s a gift!
How do you add holiday themed fun into your social skills groups this time of year?