24 Ways to Use Your “Elf” to Teach Giving and Kindness (+ giveaway )


{This is NOT a sponsored post.}



Does one magically appear in your house at the beginning of the holiday season?

Or are you on the fence about getting one this year?

We’ve all seen the pictures on our feeds.  Elves wreaking havoc in people’s homes:   making messes in the kitchen, tearing up the bathroom, and playing pranks on the families they visit.

Our elf playing the filipino game “sungka”
Our elf reminding us there are 9 days left until Christmas using butterscotch chips!
Our elf channeling Miley Cyrus

Many parents buy them as a fun Christmas tradition.  They tell their children “The elf is keeping an eye on you and will tell Santa  about any misbehavior they see.”

So why do we make the elves do such mischievous things?  Isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid modeling to children?

This seems rather ironic.

So instead of having 24 mornings of finding your elf doing something silly or mischievous, why not use this as an opportunity to teach your children character.  After all, we are using it partly to guide their character during the holiday season right?  This is an opportunity to teach children not about behaving well as a countdown to focus on receiving gifts on Christmas morning.  Let’s teach children about giving and kindness.

24 Ways Your Elf Can Teach Giving and Kindness

Many of the elf “surprises” can be divided into two categories:  Pay it Forward and Kid Action.  Pay it Forward surprises are when your elf does something special for your child or children and asks the children to “pay it forward” and do something similarly kind for someone else.  Kid Action items are suggestions your elf presents to help your child make their day a bit kinder.  Here are some ideas you can implement for all 24 days of December for Christmas Day or you can take some of your favorites to use!

  1. Elf can set up your child’s toothbrushes with toothpaste in their bathroom with a cute note saying “Let’s brighten that smile to share happily with others today!”
  2. Elf can set up your child’s shoes, backpack, lunchbox, etc. ready and waiting by the door with a positive note for the day “Have a terrific day!”.
  3. Elf can leave a few canned goods with a note encouraging the child to donate it to their local church pantry or foodbank.
  4. Elf will leave a holiday pencil for the child and a second one for the child to give to a friend that day.
  5. Elf will leave a compliment on a note for the child.  This could be for something specific they did the day before/recently or a compliment for their personality!
  6. Elf will make the child’s favorite treat overnight (cookies, brownies, snack, etc.) and have some bagged for the child to share with a friend.
  7. Elf will cook the child’s favorite breakfast.
  8. Elf will leave a good luck note for an upcoming performance, test, etc.
  9. Elf will leave a congratulations note for the child regarding a recent accomplishment.
  10. Elf will leave a “caught being good” note or small treat and mention something good the child did that he/she should be truly proud of!
  11. Elf will leave a blank “Thank You” card for the child to write/draw in and give to someone they’d like to say thank you to (teacher, parent, family member, friend, etc.).
  12. Elf will leave a kindness suggestion note asking the child to make a new friend that day, sit by someone new at lunch, share something with someone, etc.
  13. Elf will leave a note simply saying “I love you!”
  14. Elf will leave an ornament or inexpensive holiday decor item for the child to give to a neighbor to help spread holiday cheer!
  15. Elf will do one of the child’s chores and leave a blank “coupon” for the child to do the same for someone else in the family!
  16. Elf will leave a kindness suggestion note asking the child to hold the door open for someone that day.
  17. Elf will wrap a gift the child had ready for a family member.
  18. Elf will leave a kindness suggestion note to create a video message and send the greeting to a friend or family member who lives far away.
  19. Elf will leave a recipe and the ingredients for a holiday treat for the child to make with the family!
  20. Elf will leave socks and “Hot Hands” for the child to donate to a local shelter.
  21. Elf will leave craft materials and instructions (if needed) for the child to make a holiday craft (which they can give to someone!).
  22. Elf will leave a blank note titled “Five Things I am Thankful For” that the child can complete (with a parent if necessary!).
  23. Elf will leave a prayer card or a note with a written blessing for the child.
  24. Elf will leave a blank prayer card for the child to write a holiday prayer for the family.

Do you have any other suggestions to add!  I’d love to hear them in the comments!  But wait!!!

I have one more surprise…

To help foster elves teaching kindness this Christmas season, I’m giving away an Elf Magic prize pack!  The package includes a cute 10″ elf carefully selected from the North Pole, an Elf Magic storybook, and a container of elf magic confetti!  This giveaway has a short turnaround because I want to make sure it gets to a deserving family in time for the holidays.  So hurry!  It ends on November 24th!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a blessed holiday season!



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Last Weekend to Go to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream!

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream
Yes, those are bats!!

This weekend is the last weekend to go to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream!


Wait…you have small kids?


Halloween weekend may not initially come to mind as the most ideal weekend to go to Busch Gardens renowned Halloween event.  You may be thinking of tons of adults and teens, running amuck, crowded lines, and way too much horror and scariness for your kids.

But I’m speaking to those families that aren’t too into the haunted houses…

…the ones with smaller kids…

…or the ones WITHOUT kids…


Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream is a perfect DAY event as well.  I took my family there (yup, including my infant and 2 year old) and we had such a fun time despite our intent on not staying after dark (it would just be too scary for my kids…okay, and maybe me!).  Especially if you are annual passmembers, it’s a great way to celebrate Halloween!  Here are 5 reasons why we enjoyed it!

  1. Good chance for parking within walking distance!  Get there when the park opens (10AM) and there is a very strong chance you’ll get parking walking distance to the park.  Most visitors for Howl-O-Scream come for the haunted houses (This year they have 3 new ones including Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge made by the producer of the Blair Witch Project!).
  2. NO LINES!!!  Again, since most of the guests are arriving closer to dark hours, the park is practically empty prior to 5 or so on average.  With it being Halloween weekend, you’ll still probably have the park to yourself prior to lunch.  However, if you are coming with kids who are really young, expect Sesame Street Forest of Fun to be empty!  It still will be significantly less crowded than if you’ve ever been to Busch Gardens in the summer.  All of the rides are still open (including coasters).  So my hubby and I actually used the short lines to our advantage and actually rode some coasters by ourselves because it only took us 5 minutes to be in and out of the line!
  3. Shows!  There are three Halloween-themed shows and not all of them are 100% family friendly, but they are all fun!

Night Beats at the Fest Haus is completely family friendly.  It’s the perfect place to enjoy a lunch or dinner show with the family and get out of the cold.  The show spans several decades of popular music all with the backdrop of spooky vampires and ghouls.  My favorite part of the show was that it used a live band along with the live singing and dancing…so you know the music is awesome!

Monster Stomp on Ripper Row is another fun show  that combines story, singing, dancing, and percussion!  The music has big nod to popular rock songs that you’ll love, many in “mash-ups” if you will.  The whole family will definitely love the percussion using everyday objects and drums throughout the show!  There is a disclaimer for the show saying it may not be appropriate for children.  After watching it, I’m concluding it is because of the beginning of the show where they set the story of someone being murdered and “crossing over” into a dark world.

Fiends – okay, this show is probably the one I would definitely consider not appropriate for the whole family. That being said, we loved it!  HEAHEAH!  Okay, my kids were too young to understand, so it was fun.  This show is reminiscent to the Rocky Horror Picture show.  Think mad scientist, naughty jokes, scantily clad female assistants, and lots of alluding to the improper.  Again, there is lots of great singing and dancing.  The story is hilarious.

4. Food!  This isn’t the same summer fare you are used to.  Sink your teeth into some new bites at the all-you-can-eat buffet Blood Banquet or mom and dad can sip on a libation from three “Spirit Bars” throughout the park.  We had some yummy cocktails that came in cool light up cups!

5. So Many Photo Ops for Halloween!  Although you probably can find some great general fall photo ops for your family, there are too many fun freaky and spooky settings to enjoy.  Snap a pic with a variety of monsters, creatures, ghosts and more!


Look how empty the Fest Haus is!
Look how empty the Fest Haus is!
This reminded us of the filipino mythical creature, the Aswang!
This reminded us of the filipino mythical creature, the Aswang!
Yikes! He's headless!
Yikes! He’s headless!

Again, this is a fun way to celebrate Halloween with the family.  Come Friday the 30th, the 31st before you go trick-or-treating, or Nov 1st as a last Halloween hurrah!

Let me know how you liked Howl-O-Scream this year!



Disclaimer:  I am serving as a 2015 Busch Gardens Thrill Chaser ambassador.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.

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Matific: Teaching Math Intuitively Through Interactive Gaming (+ a Giveaway!)


By now you have probably settled into the school year.  Orientations are over.  If you are a teacher, classroom management structure has been established and now you are getting to know the abilities of the students.  If you are a parent, you may be noticing your child struggling in certain areas now that they are in the thick of things.  Particularly in math, it is critical that your child get the extra support he/she needs to succeed.

Why is math important?

Math along with subjects that support STEM initiatives has been a concern in U.S. education.  A recent Pew Research Center report concluded that although math scores have improved significantly in the past two decades, the U.S. still falls in the middle amongst countries in math aptitude.  In 2013, 35 percent of eighth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in mathematics.  What are the possible consequences of this?  Math is considered a cornerstone for learning critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and other vital intellectual skills to make proficient productive workers.  However, it is projected that there will be a projected 1.2 million STEM jobs by 2018 that will remain unfilled as we currently don’t have the proficiency to fill them.

What is Matific?

Matific is a new math resource for grades K-6 that strives to provide versatile immersive math experiences for students.  Available online as through mobile applications as well (both Android and iOS), Matific delivers episodes which consists of hands-on interactive games and challenges in specific math topics.  In addition, a variety of worksheets are available along with the episodes to provide additional practice.

How does it help students?

Developed by mathematicians and educators, Matific is based on the idea of making math intuitive for students.  It is designed to support math curriculums by providing spiraling activities that build from the fundamental to more higher order challenges.  Students navigate through concepts on their own as positive feedback is delivered.  Each grade level includes a comprehensive list of activities including arithmetic operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and even a more challenging area called “brain teasers” for the students who just want more.  Most importantly, the episiodes are fun and all have a gaming element.  My 5th grader likes how it turns concepts like division and fractions into fun play.


I initially thought Matific was only going to be useful for my 5th grader, but my 2 year old actually loves playing the counting episodes in the Kindergarten module!  This is a great tool in preparing students for kindergarten when you provided guided instruction.


Parents who are interested in purchasing for your children can start with a 10-day trial. Membership options run in 3, 6, and 12 month increments starting at $18 or $36 annually.  The price is very reasonable for what you are getting.

How can it help teachers?

Whether you are classroom teacher, assistant, or homeschool teacher, Matific is a great supplement to your instruction.  Teachers can start with a FREE account and have students engage with the hands-on activities on the computer or mobile devices as a process activity or attention-getter for a lesson.  With a teacher account, you have free access to all of the episodes, worksheets, tutorials, and teacher guides.  In addition, you can upload a class list or invite students to your Matific account and track everyone’s progress.  Populate performance reports for yourself, parents, or a math administrator in your building.  You can even upgrade to a premium account and have each student access Matific at home.  This may be a good supplement to a flipped classroom.

Now for a GIVEAWAY!

Are you interested in Matific?  I am running a giveaway for the next two weeks for you to get a FREE annual account!  You can have all of the episodes and worksheets, grades K-6, for your children to use for the entire year!  Just enter below!  A winner will be selected at random.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE 11/9/2015:  Congratulations to Dana B for winning a year of Matific!

Good luck!

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary year membership to Matific to assist with this review.  All of the opinions here are completely my own.

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