Elf on the Shelf Writing Prompt

Do you love Elf on the Shelf or don’t want anything to do with him?  Either way, the Elf on the Shelf can make a super fun Christmas writing prompt for school throughout the month of December.

Personally, we swore we would never do the Elf on the Shelf.  We have never done Santa Claus in our home.  And, I am all about simple and moving an elf each night did not fit with my idea of “keeping things simple.” But, last year, I realized he would make a great writing prompt for my boys during the month of December.

So if you would like to use him to encourage your child’s writing development, just follow these easy steps!

Cover for Blog Post Elf on the Shelf Writing Prompt with Free Printable

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1) Find an Elf on the Shelf

In case you are not familiar with the Elf on the Shelf, he comes with a book that explains his role.  He has been sent by Santa Claus to watch your children and report back each night on whether they have been naughty or nice. Each time he returns from the North Pole, he arrives in a different place in the home and usually finds himself in a mischievous situation.

You can buy the basic version or one of the versions below including a girl elf or one with a darker skin tone.  There are also fun outfits you can add on!  You can also choose gender and looks.  Or you could use any elf you already have around the house!

Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition
  • A timeless Christmas classic the whole family fan enjoy
  • The Elf on the Shelf comes in light skin and dark skin boy and girl scout elves
  • #1 national bestseller with over 2.5 million copies sold
  • Touted as "the best thing since The Night before Christmas"
  • A Scout Elf skirt is available, sold separately

The Elf on the Shelf 2020 Outfit Set - Holiday Ice Fishing Hut with Clothes and Soaring Snowflake Sled for Your Boy or Girl Elf - 6 Total Doll Accessories (Elf Not Included)
  • The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition That Keeps On Reinventing Christmas Year after Year.
  • Inflatable Sled for Your Boy or Girl Elf with Peppermint-striped Tug Rope.
  • Cheery Red-and-Green Striped Seasonal Scout Elf Scarf to Keep Warm.
  • The Fishing Hut Allows for Elves to Stay Out of the Cold While They Enjoy Fishing.
  • Fishing hut, Sweater vest, Fish, and Fishing Pole Accessories Included - Everything Your Boy or Girl Elf Needs to Ice Fish! Elf Not Included.

The Elf on the Shelf Girl Elf Gift Set with Party Dress Set (2 Pack) - Girl Character & Themed Storybook with Festive Holiday Dresses: Dress Your Elf Girl Scout Up for Your Christmas Party
  • Boxed Gift Set includes Blue-Eyed Girl Elf with Bonus Pair Of Skirts & a hardbound girl-themed " The Elf on the Shelf Book " in a Keepsake Box
  • Touted as the best thing since The Night Before Christmas
  • Fun-filled tradition with a lifetime of memories
  • Perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list, Tradition the whole family can enjoy ~ a Timeless classic

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition - Boy Scout Elf with Brown Eyes - Includes Artfully Illustrated Storybook, Keepsake Box and Official Adoption Certificate
  • Santa’s Most Trusted Helpers: Ever wondered how Santa crafts his Nice list? Well, Santa has a trusted Scout Elf assigned to families around the world. They will find a spot in their family's home to sit and watch all day long. Each night, they fly back to report to Santa at the North Pole to tell him all your stories and adventures.
  • Adopt a Scout Elf: Every Scout Elf comes from the North Pole and reports to Santa Claus. But you can adopt one from Santa-approved Scout Elf Adoption Centers. Now you can bring home your own Scout Elf, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition storybook, a keepsake box, and an adoption certificate as a forever reminder they’re yours. It’s a magical experience you can share with the entire family.
  • Let the Magic Begin: When you give your Scout Elf a name, their Christmas Magic is activated. This enables them to fly back and forth to the North Pole each night. Scout Elves always return the next morning and usually land on different spots and sneaky places. This makes morning more magical.
  • agic for Every Moment: Scout Elves are silly, crafty, funny, and sometimes quite adventurous. You wake up each morning and find them hiding on Christmas trees, perching on Christmas decorations, hanging out with your toys, or disguising themselves as a nutcracker. Better keep an eye out for these elves every morning, because you'll never know where they'll land next.
  • A Christmas Tradition: This beloved family tradition has captured the hearts of children everywhere who embrace the magic of having a Scout Elf who reports to Santa each night during the holidays. This boxed set has everything needed to make lasting Christmas memories. It's an extravaganzalorious Christmas experience that adds joy and laughter to your Christmas season and is fun for all ages.


We actually have never read the book and our Elf does not report back to Santa.  He just gets into mischief that we write about!

2) Give the Elf a Backstory

My boys enjoyed the Elf immensely last year, but their stories needed a bit of help!  This year, I have created two graphic organizers to help them with their writing.  You can download these FREE printables at the bottom of this post.

The Prewriting Exercise, is to help your children think of a back story for their elf, complete with name, age, origin, hobbies, character traits and more.  You can then encourage them to use this information to make their stories richer.  This sheet should be completed before your Elf on the Shelf gets himself into any mischievous situations.  For younger children, just ask them the questions and write the information in for them.

3) Set the Elf Up in a Mischievous Situation

Once your children complete the Prewriting Exercise, that night you can set the Elf on the Shelf up in his first situation.  If you need some inspiration in this area, check out these posts:

40+ of the Best Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Top 50 Elf on the Shelf Ideas

You can also follow #elfontheshelf on Instagram for tons of ideas!  We kept it pretty simple in the beginning and open to lots of interpretation.  For example, one night we just rolled the toilet paper out of the bathroom, into the kitchen and the Elf sat holding the end while hiding under a kitchen chair.  How and why did he do this?  It allowed us to brainstorm many ideas.

4) Plan Your Story

Once your children find the Elf on the Shelf, they can use the second page of the printable, the Story Organizer.  This helps them think about how and why the Elf ended up in his situation.  It encourages them to think through each story element needed to tell a story and to organize their story in a sequential manner.  This can be difficult for some children and is great to plan out before they start to write their story!  Again, younger children can dictate this information and you can complete the organizer for them.

5) Write and Edit the Story

Now that your children have everything thought out and organized, they can sit down and write their story.  Feel free to give some expectations such as they need to write a 5 sentence paragraph or a 3 paragraph story.  Whatever is appropriate for their skill levels.  For younger children, they can dictate their story and you can write it for them.  You may write it exactly how they say it or you may help them reword and explain some things better as you write what they say.

I always encourage my kids just to get the story down and then we will go back and edit it later.  It can be a not so great first draft.  This usually removes their anxiety about getting all of their spelling, punctuation, etc. perfect and they can just write the story.

The next step is to have them read through the story and correct anything that needs correcting.  Then, the two of you can read through the story together and make any other final changes.

6) Natural Reward for Finishing the Story

Once your children finish their story, you can set the Elf up again.  How often you move the Elf depends on how eager your children are to write their stories.  I found we only had to set him up about once a week because it took them this long to plan their story, write their first draft, edit, and then write a final draft if need be.

If your children need an extra push to get their writing done, you could set up a reward where they get to set the Elf up for the next story.  Maybe the first child done with his story gets to set the next scene or maybe the one with the longest story becomes the scene setter.  Or you could get really specific if your children are working on a particular skill.  Maybe the child who uses the most descriptive words in his writing gets to set up the next scene!

We would love to hear about how the Elf on the Shelf Writing Prompt goes for you.  Please leave a comment below!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Dineen

    We don’t do Santa in the usual way, so Elfing on the Shelf never suited our family either. I never liked the idea of St. Nicholas loving conditionally, so perpetuating the idea that Santa Claus distributed gifts based on behavior is distateful. Using the doll in this creative way with older kids is a wonderful idea.

    1. Randi Smith

      I am right there with you!

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