Finding Kindness At Fletcher

Kindergarten?Teacher Uses ‘Elf On The Shelf’ As A Tool?For Teaching

Kindergarten students have been learning how to be kind through the “Elf on the Shelf” game that has been incorporated at Fletcher Elementary School. In kindergarten teacher Kara Benson’s class, the game is being used to teach kindness. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

A part of a monthly game, kindergarten students entered Kara Benson’s classroom noticing the toy elf hidden on a snowman decoration on the door — but with the activity they were also learning kindness.

The “Elf on the Shelf” traditional Christmas game has been incorporated throughout the school this year before the holidays. Students are tasked with finding the elf when they come into school every morning as an bonus activity. In Benson’s classroom, the students were given an added aspect to the game. Benson said the the children are told the elf flies back to Santa Claus every night to report to him how the students behaved.

“With my students, it brings challenges,” Benson said.

Students receive “brag-tags” when they have completed a kind act throughout the day. Benson said the students are shocked when they’re given the brag-tag for their actions because they were unaware anyone was watching. The more brag-tags a student has from completing acts of kindness, the higher the chances are for them to be selected for a prize.

Additionally, group activities are completed to spread kindness throughout the school. Benson’s class has been completing kindness challenges beginning at the start of December. Each day, the students have finished a new challenge that involves spreading kindness to someone else within the school.

“(The challenge is) giving them examples of how to be kind,” Benson said.

On Friday, the students were about to begin creating “thank you” cards to give to the cafeteria employees. The cafeteria staff were unaware they’d be receiving such a gift – as were the other recipients of students’ kindness. “Thank you” cards from Benson’s class are also draped on the front of Principal Maria DeJoy’s office door as she was the first individual the students were tasked with displaying kindness toward.

Other challenges also look to reinforce kindness in other ways. Students are encouraged to pick up after themselves at school and at home. One Kindergarten student, Gillian, said her favorite part of the challenge was seeing the happiness the acts of kindness made other people feel.

The students are also simply being encouraged to reinforce their politeness around the school including smiling at people and saying “thank you” to others.

The activities will continue until next Friday before the students are sent home for winter break.

A similar event was held in Pam Gustafson’s fourth grade class where students focused on kindness as well. Students created a paper chain featuring 12 acts of kindness they thought of to complete each day.

Benson said the weeks before the holiday-timed break typically excites the students leading up to the last Friday. The “elf on the shelf” and the added kindness challenge is a method to maintain the students’ thoughtfulness throughout out the final weeks in December, Benson said.

“It’s giving them a good example to follow. They see the benefits of how happy the teachers were,” she added.