Move Over Elf on the Shelf–The Reindeer is in the Room

Dec 5th 2016

Is Christmas craziness taking over your classroom? As a veteran teacher, I've tried every behavior management trick and technique to calm holiday chaos that predictably arrives every year around December 1 and found limited success. These three weeks should be full of fun and learning, but for years they left me exasperated and exhausted. I decided to take back control with Reindeer in the Room, a customizable, effective behavior management plan I created based upon Elf on the Shelf.  It's made a tremendous difference in my classroom and I'm excited to share this idea with other teachers. Follow these easy steps to introduce Reindeer in the Room to your class.

1.Purchase a small reindeer and reindeer antlers. I found my reindeer at the Hallmark store and the antlers at Target's dollar section.

Reindeer in the room materials

2. Activate background knowledge and build excitement. I put a reindeer sign on my door that says, "A surprise is waiting inside...". When the students come to the classroom in the morning, they are so excited to see the sign and find their surprise.

Reindeer in the Room Sign

I call the students to the carpet and I read Elf on a Shelf to introduce Reindeer in the Room. The majority of students have an elf at home and it is a perfect connection to the Reindeer in the Room. I explain that Santa sends elves to watch children at home, but Santa gives teachers an extra special helper, a reindeer. He comes down from the North Pole and gives Santa a daily behavior report. This report provides valuable information to Santa because education is very important to him. Santa expects that all children listen, participate and give their best effort.

3. Introduce Reindeer in the Room. Show students the reindeer and read the accompanying poem.Explain that the reindeer works just like the elf, watching the class carefully and then reporting to Santa each night. Each day the reindeer will give a special antler reward to one or two well-behaved students. The reindeer will also leave a hoof on the desks of misbehaved students as a symbol to "stomp out" poor behavior immediately.

Reindeer in the Room introduction

After introduction, brainstorm possible names for the reindeer on the lines provided. Then vote to determine reindeer's official name.

Reindeer in the Room Names4. Record reindeer promises. Discuss behavior goals with the class and record on board. Students write 3 individual behavior goals and record them on the Reindeer Promise sheet. Explain that the reindeer reads these goals and watches students' progress towards them.

Reindeer in the Room Reindeer Promise

Reindeer promises5. Create a  Reindeer in the Room on a bulletin board. Prominently display promises on a Reindeer in the Room bulletin board. Last year I purchased this Santa head from Hobby Lobby and then added the title, "Santa's Watching...." as a reminder to students.

Reindeer in the Room bulletin board

This year I used the large reindeer sign as the focus of the Reindeer in the Room bulletin board.

Reindeer in the Room bulletin board 2

6. Make reindeer name tags. Print these adorable name tags on the color printer, laminate and then add googly eyes as a reminder that the reindeer is always watching student behavior. You can also give students black-line name tags as a present from the reindeer and let them color them before laminating and posting on desks.

Reindeer nametags

7. Award antlers and hand out hooves. In order to determine who receives the antler and hoof each day, I take quick notes on a Post-It throughout the day. I specifically look for students that I see going above and beyond (helping others, picking up trash on playground, etc.). I select one student to get an antler award; I place the antler headband, printable antler certificate and Santa chocolate on student's desk before I leave work for the night.

Reindeer in the Room reward

I give a hoof to any student who lost a star (as part of my classroom behavior plan) or who has a messy desk. I place the hoof printable and coal on the student's desk.

Reindeer in the room hoof

Antlers and hooves can easily be used with existing behavior systems. For example, antlers can be given to students who get to blue (excellent behavior) and hooves can be given for students who go to yellow or red on stoplight behavior system. There are days when no one gets a hoof. I track antlers and hooves in my grade book to ensure that everyone (or most) will get an antler award.

8. Move the reindeer nightly. Each night before I leave school, I move the reindeer to a new location. I try to get creative and also make sure that the reindeer has a good view of the classroom to carefully watch behavior.

Reindeer in the room movement

Students are so excited to discover the reindeer's new location and see who earned antlers and who got hoofed. I briefly discuss this with students before we go over the schedule and take attendance in the morning. It sets the tone for the day and reminds them about their behavior goals.

9. Integrate informational text. Reindeer in the Room prompts students to ask many questions about reindeer, making it the perfect opportunity to incorporate informational text.  During our reindeer study, my class completes the foldable KWL (except for the L section which we complete after the study).

Reindeer KWL foldable

Each student uses his/her question from KWL reindeer and records it on the question and answer reindeer printable. I set up a reindeer research center with key vocabulary terms and leveled reindeer text where students can read and research to answer the question.

Reindeer research

Reindeer question and answer

10. Have fun!  I'd love to see pictures of your Reindeer in the Room as he (or she) calms the Christmas craziness in your classroom.


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