Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Green Elf on the Shelf

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I was speaking with some friends of mine at Hofstra University who were telling me about how each year, Santa sends an elf to watch their home to make sure that the children are behaving and doing good things.  The elf reports back to Santa Claus with a list of naughty and nice behavior of the residents.

I called one of my professor friends at the University of the North Pole to find out if they do any environmental training in their Bachelors of Arts of Naughty and Nice.  As everyone knows, most of Santa's elves are trained at the University of the North Pole on categories of naughty and nice that are part of the list.

My friend told me that several years ago, the university instituted a mandatory environmental course for the elves in the program.  She gave me a list of several things elves notice when observing children around the holidays.  You might want to share this list with children you know to ensure that they stay on the nice list.  It's not a bad list for adults too!

1.  Recycling.  The elves hate to see things go to waste.  A sure way to get on the naughty list is to throw away things that could be recycled.

2.  Energy conservation.  The elves can see in the dark.  They do not need a light on in a room that is not being used.  The elves always notice when children turn off electronic appliances, computers, and lights when not needed.  While they love holiday lights, they don't like it when people leave them on when no one is home.

3.  Eating only what you need.  The elves travel all over the world and have reported back to Santa that there are some places in the world without enough food.  They hate to see food go to waste and they put children on the naughty list if they eat more than their fair share or waste food.

4.  Making gifts.  There is nothing an elf likes better than a hand-made card or a gift made from the heart.  Children do not need to buy gifts for their family.  Everyone loves a simple gift that has meaning.  At the same time, elves are taught to add children to the naughty list if they ask for too many gifts or ask for gifts that are very expensive.

5.  Good deeds.  There are many things that elves notice this time of year.  One of them is whether or not children are going out of their way to help the environment or their community.  Helping could include picking up litter around your neighborhood or school, building a small wildlife refuge in your backyard, or finding ways to conserve water in your home.  Children could also help neighbors, friends, or family members with their environmental projects such as making homes energy efficient, building a compost bin, planning a garden, or building a birdhouse.

6.  Learning about the environment.  Elves are big fans of books and always notice when children read.  However, children get bonus points if they learn about the environment.  The elves have noticed that lately children love learning about animals, volcanoes, ecosystems like coral reefs, and unique places like the Galapagos Islands or the Rocky Mountains.  They also like learning how to do things like identify birds or stars, go fishing, or  test the nutrient levels of soils.

7.  Appreciate the environment.  The elves love art and music--especially art and music about the natural environment.  The elves get very very happy when children make art.  They love collages with leaves and pictures.  They love drawings of trees and animals.  They especially like pictures of the North Pole and other parts of the world where they travel.  They also love to see children dance and pretend that they are animals or trees while listening to music.  Some elves have gotten in trouble with Santa when they join in with the dancing!

8.  Playing outside.  While it might not seem like playing outside is something that will get you on the nice list, my friend pointed out that Santa spends a considerable amount of time out of doors taking care of his reindeer and helping Mrs. Claus with her farming.  Santa has excellent hearing and gets great joy hearing children laughing and playing outside.

My professor friend tells me that when Santa reviews the naughty and nice list, he always looks to see if children are especially kind to the environment.  My friend at the University of the North Pole is always looking for suggestions for what to add to the environmental curriculum for elves so that they know what to teach the elves to look for during this time of year when coming up with their naughty and nice list for children.  If you have any ideas please leave them in the comments.

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