When the Elf on the Shelf craze started about 10 years back, I immediately knew I had to have one to share with my students. I was teaching first grade at the time, and I had a sneaking suspicion that my students would look forward to seeing the elf and his crazy antics each day. My students decided to name the elf Buddy, and our journey together began there!
In my classroom, Buddy would find a new adventure each day. It became a challenge to me to come up with something super fun or creative, because the kiddos would be so excited. They would literally run into the classroom each day and scour the space until they found Buddy in a bookshelf, hanging from the ceiling or attached to a window. The kids used so much self control to resist the urge to touch him (if he is touched, he returns to The North Pole).
At the end of the holiday season, Buddy would depart for his return to Santa's Workshop. This was the one time of the year where the kids were able to touch Buddy. It was absolutely precious to see each student gently hold Buddy. They would hug him close to their faces, hold him near their hearts and kiss him on his forehead. It was honestly one of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen.
Buddy followed me from first grade to third grade to fourth grade. We went to three different buildings together and were in four different classrooms. Each year, the kids were ecstatic for his return. Buddy was an important part of each classroom community.
When I became an assistant principal, Buddy had a new friend, Newman. Newman was also an Elf on the Shelf, and the two of them participated in a lot of mischief together. Buddy began to venture outside the office. He was found in the cafeteria, the hallways, the gym and even went outside to make a snowman with me!
Buddy, of course, had to make his way to Michigan to be a part of our Stewart Family. Each morning, there are a number of students who run into the office to see what Buddy is up to. Last year after our gingerbread house making competition, Buddy turned into elfzilla. He "destroyed" a gingerbread house (that may have already had some structural damage), and has now found himself in a city!
Although somewhat stressful at times (it can be really hard to come up with ideas!), Buddy has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. I love to see the smile he brings to adults and students. I never could have imagined that something so small could bring a classroom or school-wide community so close together.