It’s the most wonderful time of the year….fall! I’m still in awe of the mountains around my home. This girl comes from the flat-as-a-pancake bayou. We don’t even have hills back home! It is just so exciting for me to look up at the mountains every day and see all the leaves changing colors. There are clusters of red and orange everywhere you look and there’s starting to be a chill in the air at night. I LOVE it! With the best month of the year coming up, I wanted to share something I did last year with my students to celebrate Halloween: Elf on the Shelf--Halloween Style!
My nieces introduced me to the Christmas Elf on the Shelf a few years ago and I just love the idea. (In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s an elf who visits around Christmas time to watch how you’re behaving, then each night he goes back to the North Pole to give Santa his report. When you see him during the day he has to freeze and you can’t touch him!) Last year around this time, I was taking one of my frequent trips to the dollar store to stock up on teacher essentials and, of course, Halloween decorations! I saw this cute little scarecrow (about 1 foot tall) and the wheels started turning. It hit me that I could do a Scarecrow on the Shelf thing as a fun activity and reward system for my students. So I bought the scarecrow, whom I named Scary, and took him to school with me. Each day starting at the beginning of October, Scary would find a different place to sit in our room and watch the kids’ behavior so that at night he could go report back to the Halloween Fairy, who would grant them different treats and rewards. Scary found some interesting places from which to watch us! He sat on top of the projector, peeking out from around books on bookshelves, at one of the computers, on top of the white board…I always played oblivious and the students loved trying to be the first to spot where Scary was each day. I know my 5th graders thought I was a little crazy, but they totally played along with me. Scary would often leave notes for the kids or for me, praising something they had done or encouraging me to give them a treat.
I’m excited to do this with 2nd graders this year because I know most of them will buy into it more. Someone shared with me that 2nd grade is kind of the last year of innocence and “little kid-ness” for elementary students. I want to celebrate with them the magic of being a child! This is something I think all students (regardless of age) can benefit from. It brings a little more fun and excitement to school and encourages students to use their imaginations (something we don’t often have to do in today’s world.)
This year I’m trying to think of different ways to incorporate Scary into the curriculum. We are working on making realistic estimations and predictions, so during calendar time each morning we will make predictions about where Scary might show up the next day and we will graph these predictions as a class. I am also going to do a few writing activities with Scary. There are so many creative directions you could take this. The students can write autobiographical stories to share with Scary so that he can get to know each of them, you can do letter writing so the students can get to know Scary (Scary can just reply to the whole class in one letter), they can write stories about what they think Scary does at night while no one is at school or they can pretend they got to spend a day outside of school with Scary and write about the things they did together…the possibilities are endless.
This is a great way to bring some Fall Fun into your classroom and add something special to each day. Go out and buy those scarecrows and let me know how it goes! How will you use your scarecrow in your classroom? Share your ideas!
Happy Fall, Y’all!