Elf on the shelf…. what has that got to do with Speech Therapy??


Yesterday while visiting a client at home, I had a wonderful Christmas-y brainwave.

As I entered the home, I glanced at their Christmas tree. Immaculately put together… except for a large white ribbon of toilet paper draped around the tree- like some sort of flat, quilted, not so shiny, tinsel.

“Oh the tree” the client’s mother smiled knowingly “It was great until Randy got to it” she said.

Only then did I look up and realise, Randy was not a rambunctious toddler, or an intoxicated older sibling, or a slightly ‘alternative’ aunt. Randy was an Elf- an EOTS (elf on the shelf)… or in this case, an elf on a Christmas Tree.

I understand fully that I have been living under a rock when it comes to EOTS. I have pottered through Pinterest, Flicked through Facebook and Gandered through Google- and I get it, EOTS is not a new thing. But for the purpose of other readers that may also be living under a rock, I’ll briefly run through the phenomenen that is EOTS.

It appears that you firstly purchase said elf (with or without his quaint little story), give him a name, and then he runs amok each night *while everyone is asleep*. The next morning, with excitement, the children discover what mischief he has been up to. Blissful, innocent, Christmas goodness. The gift that keeps on giving!!!

Oh that’s right, I was meaning to chat about my brainwave….Well, as I listened to my beautiful little client eagerly tell me about Randy the Elf’s exploits, I realised what an amazing language stimulation opportunity this was.

OK, now there’s always going to be someone who jumps in here, and asks why I need to make an activity that is purely fun, into an educational experience, so here goes:

  1. Learning Language should be fun.
  2. Embedding speech and language goals into a child’s daily routine is more likely to lead to generalisation and better long term speech outcomes.
  3. It’s a timesaver! If you are setting Mr Elf up and chatting about him, you might as well make it your child’s speech homework as well.
  4. The opportunities are endless. I dare you to type ‘Elf on a Shelf’ into Pinterest…. you may never surface!!!

To use EOTS for speech and language goals, you will first need to think about what your targets are. If your child attends Speech Therapy, you’ll know what to choose based on the goals in the sessions and the homework tasks you have. If your child doesn’t go to Speech Therapy, pick some ideas from the list below that your child needs assistance with.

Don’t worry. If your child is reluctant, you can always take the opportunity to provide them with a model, by explaining it you your child. Modelling is a great strategy for teaching new language.

N.B. I took these pictures from Pinterest- I’ve mentioned a reference if I could find one.

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Here’s the perfect Elf situation to teach position words. ‘Oh look, he’s UNDER the glass, he’s ON the shelf, IN the cupboard!’ Make it a part of the game for the children to explain where they find him.

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Here’s the perfect idea for answering Why questions and verbal reasoning. You could ask “Why do you think he went into the fridge?” “He has a blanket on…. I wonder why?”

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If your child needs a little help with their grammar, talk about what the Elf is doing. Don’t forget the -ing! “He’s cleaning, sleeping, driving…. the opportunities are endless!

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EOTS have male and female versions, so make sure your child is using the correct pronouns. You could ask “what is HE doing?” “what is in HER hand?”

I hope this has given you some food for thought. If you have any great Elf Ideas, that fit in well with a communication goal- please post it to our facebook page.

Chat soon- xx Kate xx