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 have 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, the teacher’s version of Elf on the Shelf. Just like the Elf on a Shelf, the Reindeer in the Room features a special helper (a reindeer) who is sent to watch over the classroom and reports nightly to Santa. 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. I found my reindeer at the Hallmark store but I’ve seen them everywhere including the Target Dollar Section.
2. Activate background knowledge and build excitement. 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.
4. 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.
5. Create a Reindeer in the Room on a bulletin board. Prominently display promises on a Reindeer in the Room bulletin board.
6 .Move the reindeer nightly and 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. 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.
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.
7. 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.
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.
8. Have fun! Download Reindeer in the Room to calm the Christmas chaos in your classroom. I’d love to see pictures of your Reindeer in the Room in action.