2013 – My Christmas Elf – Day 8 – Train Time

Speaking of traditions…..last year we started a new one.  It has got to be one of my favourites.  The annual Santaland Excursion!

Santa land is a section of the major Myer department stores dedicated to housing Santa.  It is truly a wonderful experience for all involved and a day my kids talk about all year!

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The Elves knew about our plans!  The kids had not seen this train set for ages and couldn’t believe the elves had found it and put it together! Trixie the elf is being ever so helpful and giving Holly Jingles a ride. 

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All dressed ready to go we drove to the train station ready for the adventure to begin.  Getting the train is a special experience for our kids and I sometimes wonder if that is their highlight of the day!  I must admit, however that I was shocked at the price of train tickets!  Nearly $10 one way for an adult and $4.50 for a child!!!  I might have been better off driving in! Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.43.33 AM

As we headed into the mall, the festive spirit was alive and well.  All the stores have their Christmas displays in the windows and the mall was decorated ready to welcome the Christmas shoppers.  The kids RAN from display to display!Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.43.43 AM

But our favourite display as always was the Myer Christmas Windows.  Each year the windows have a theme based on a childrens story.  This year it was “Gingerbread Friends” by Jan Brett.  Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.43.53 AM

The windows are interactive with each display moving and playing music.  Some of it is quite realistic so be warned my kids even got a little scared when a character moved towards them! 

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With the windows done, it was off into Santaland! 

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Myers really knows how to create an experience.  Literally as we walked in the doors,  we found some clues on how to get to Santaland!  Scan this symbol with an app on your phone for an interactive story.Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.44.33 AM

On arrival at Santaland, children line up for a ride on santa’s train.  They are presented with a “golden ticket” (which they get to keep) to board the magical train.  The train only starts when the children yell “SANTA”  It ravels a few times around the track, ringing it’s bell. 
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A few families at a time then enter Santa’s area.  There is a movie on for the kids to watch and the cutest santa boot stools! Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.44.56 AM

Finally it’s our turn! Santa’s helpers had already asked Mummy what the children’s names are so when they walk into Santa’s house he greets them by name and comments on how much they have grown. 
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Santa is seated in his lounge room complete with his reindeer sleeping on the floor.  The Reindeer is electronic and occasionally his chest rises and his ears twitch! It had Little miss A fooled but not Master O! Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 5.45.35 AMIt is such a great setup.  The kids can chat away to Santa without the hustle and bustle of the other people in line.  Santa really took the time to chat to the kids about their year, and what they wanted for christmas.  This made my Santaphobic Little Miss A feel so comfortable, she happily posed for a photo!  

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After their official photo they had a quick play outside Santas house on the train.

and the finished product…..

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Our last Santa photo of just TWO CHILDREN.

We had all of this done and dusted (including a very thorough browse of the toy section) by 11am!  Right in time for lunch!

Both kids fell asleep on the train ride home, thoroughly exhausted.  This was one of those days that my heart literally burst with joy.  To have such a wonderful time with two healthy and happy children, experiencing the magic of Christmas together.  One tradition I hope remains for many years to come.

The Elf Antic Planner

Preparations for a special little elf’s arrival are well under way in our house.  The key to maintaining the Elf’s presence for such a long period of time is to be prepared!

To start our adventure, I created an Elf Antic Planner.  

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This planner has three columns.  

The Idea or Antic

The first column is a space in which to write your idea or antic.  There is room to add two lines of text so underneath I make note of anything specific to that activity.  For e.g Under Train Trouble I jotted in that this needs to be on the day we have booked to go to SantaLand. An Antic can be as simple as a funny place the elf is hiding or as complicated as a whole days worth of activities planned!

The Date

This is completely optional.  We do the “Elf On The Shelf” a little differently in our house.   Each day his antic gives us  a clue to that days’s events.  For example if he has made a mess in the kitchen and is hiding in the flour tin, that day we are doing some baking!  For this reason some antics are flexible with their dates and others we need to do on certain days as I have pre-booked activities.  If you are looking for some great Christmas Activities, check out the following places

  • Your Local Council
  • The Local Library
  • Shopping Centres
  • Museum/Art Galleries
  • Newspapers
  • School Newsletter
  • Hardware Stores (Bunnings/Masters/Mitre 10)
  • Fabric/Craft Stores (Spotlight/Lincraft)
  • Department Stores (Big W/Target/Kmart/Myer/David Jones)

This is where I tell you…..THESE ACTIVITIES ARE FREE!!!!  I do not go to any activities that I have to pay for!  Christmas for us is about the experience and enjoying our holidays together not paying for extravagant outings! NOTE: BOOK NOW.  The best activities require bookings as the numbers in each group are limited.  Although the age range of some activities excludes smaller children, if you ask they often let them participate as long as the parent stays to assist. 


All the ideas planned on paper is great but you will need some props to really bring out the Elf fun!  This could simply be a bag of marshmallows for the elf to bathe in or things you already have at home!  Use what you have first!!!  Check the pantry and playroom!  You will be amazed at the ideas it gives you!  I do BUY a few “Christmas” themed props BUT…..My budget for each prop is $2.  Yep $2.  The only thing I spent more than $2 on was some advent calendars, they were $3!!!!  Check out the discount stores, grocery stores and department stores for some great Christmas themed items.  If all else fails buy a big packet of Christmas stickers!  A christmas sticker can make anything seem Christmassy!  Some great props to have on hand are;

  • Marshmallows
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Stamps
  • Pencils/Paper
  • Printer Ink!!!!
  • A box to keep everything in!


I personally like to print it out and write directly on it as I am constantly chopping and changing my ideas! I keep it hidden in my planner!  I like to take it out and about with me as it stops from me overspending.  I am a Christmas addict and I could seriously buy everything that has a reindeer on it.  But if it’s not on my list, I don’t buy it. Unless of course I know that the kids will love it, and I will use it for years to come (like a cute mailbox I found!) so I chop and change ideas on my planner.

Here it is, it’s nothing fancy but it works and it’s free!

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and so the planning begins…..

I am a planner.  A procastinator, but a planner. I make lists upon lists.  I find it very hard to live in the now.  But I am starting to embrace it.  So now, even though you can feel Christmas in the air, I am starting the New Year organising.

On My List.

1. Sort out the school stuff. Otherwise known as ,  tackle the mountain of Master O’s school paraphenalia.  Sort, Throw, Store a years worth of school “stuff” efficiently.  Whatever system I choose, it is going to have to be compact and efficient.  We have two children, with 14 years of school each.  That is a lot of stuff!

2.  Collate the back to school lists.  The uniforms, stationary and text book requirements are here but I am yet to make my “table“.  This is playing on my mind as January is CRAZY for us with two trips away.


Stuck On You

3. Organise a 2013 Family Calendar.  I have done this!  It is here, it is beautiful and it is empty!  There is something so appealing about an unfilled calendar that I have been putting off writing in it!  We had an amazing system in 2012 using this stuck on you calendar and we want it continue.

4.Organise a 2013 Diary.  Once again I have done this!  I am trying a new system of keeping my schedule organised this year.  It does help that I dont have a work schedule to manage! I have enlisted the help of a “Persoanl Planner” and I can’t wait to share with you how I use it! Check out personal-planner.com.au for more

5. Start a new cleaning schedule.  This is the up or maybe down side of now being a stay at home Mum.  The cleaning and organising of a rather large house is now my domain.  I need help people! I need a schedule or even just a list, I need to sort out a cleaning container?  

I could go on forever.  I have to say there is something exciting about fresh starts, new plans and endless lists!  

So where are you at? Any plans for the new year?

Day 15 ~ Oh No! Where did the Elf Go!

All of these Elf appearances can be hard work!  There are going to be times when you forget to move the elf or quite frankly just couldnt be bothered! So here are 5 reasons the Elf has not appeared!

  1. Snow Storm.  The Elf has been caught in a snow storm over night.  When he returns he will bring some snowballs (aka Marshmallows with him!)
  2. Santa Shopping. He is late night shopping for Santa’s Christmas Present.  What do you think Santa would like for Christmas?
  3. Reindeer Rescue.  Last night he got a distress call from Rudolph he is having some problems with his flying lessons.  He had to stay a while to help him out! after all thats what good friends do.
  4.  Fighting The Flu.  All this snow travel has given him the sneezes!  He needed to pop home to his Elfy doctor. On his return he comes with a packet of tissues and some cough lollies!
  5. Writing Reports.  His reports were due to Santa and he needed some extra time writing them.  Do you think he has written that you have been naughty or nice?
When all else fails use your imagination or even better ask your children to use theirs?  Where do they think the Elf is?  Their answers will amaze you!
For these activities and any others that you would like to differently we have created some BLANK CLUE CARDS for you!!!
This first set is for you to Print and write onto yourself.

Tomorrow, by popular request we will share your very own EDITABLE BLANK CLUE CARDS!

Find an Elfy font and get typing!

Day 12 ~ A Christmas Book Basket

The greatest gift you can give any child, is a love of reading.  It could be just spending time reading together, presenting them with a new book or even sharing a book from your own childhood.  Children who grow up in text reach environments have a much better chance of becoming good readers.  

Like Dr Seuss said

“The more that you read,

the more that you’ll know,

The more that you know

the more places you’ll go”

This clue card is in the second set of Clue Cards, available for download later this week!

 Anything to do with your little Elf reading! 


  • Gather up all of the Christmas Books in your house or classroom and create a Book Basket. We ensure we have a mix of traditional, modern, religious and Australian versions of Christmas!

This was a Christmas Basket I found at a dollar store.  I have used this as our main book basket for Christmas and placed it in our playroom.

  • Place the basket in an area of your home or classroom that easily accessbible for the children.  The aim is for them to at any moment of the day indulge in a Christmas story
  • The theme of this basket can change form season to season.  Once you have it set up it will work beautifully and the children will await each change!
  • I also use these serviette holders to display a few Christmas books in each childs bed room.  

  • I have used our usual book basket to collate the Christmas activity books.  I have put these up high so they are away form a certain little two year olds enquiring fingers.  She uses stickers as bandaids on her imaginary injuries! 
  • Now read, read, read! 
  • If you are looking for some actvities to go with your books, it is amazing what you will find on google! OR
  • Retell; can your child retell the story breaking it into three sections (Beginning, Middle, End) . This is a greta way to assess their comprehension of the story, even if they just use pictures to retell the three parts. 
  • Character List; Can your child draw a character of the list and write a description of them?
  • Text Innovation; How else could the story have ended?
  • Text Comparison; How are the traditional and the aussie Twelve days of Christmas different. Compare each page side by side
  • Setting Comparison; How does a Norther Hemispher and Southern Hemisphere Chrsitmas differ? Can you paint a picture or create a collage to illusrtate one or both?
Oh how I could go on and on and on!
Books are amazing in the opportunities they provide for LEARNING!!!

 This is a hard one as there are just way too many ideas!

So I will take your lead!

What would you like to see as a printable for this activity?

A template for a story retell? A character comparison? A Christmas comparison?

Let me know!




Day 8 ~ Wishlist to Santa

Christmas is not complete without writing a Wishlist Letter to Santa!

This is one of those activities that I am always a little unsure about as sometimes it sounds a bit like want, want, want.  Definitely the wrong messagei want to send to my kids about Christmas.  Then last year Lisa at “Life as We know It”  introduced me to a new way of Christmas “wanting and shopping”

we took her lead and let our children ask for only four presents! It has certainly changed their way of thinking about Christmas! It isn’t about Toys, Toys Toys, Want, Want, Want!  

“When you wish upon a star

Your wish may just come true

So make a list, and make a wish

and a present may come from Santa to you.

 Wish for something you want

And something to read

Something to wear and

Something you need.”

 Perhaps you have a very computer litearte Elf, who write letters on the laptop?



 How about a minature Letter and Envelope, how terribly cute!


  • Discuss ways that children may be able to tell santa their wishes.  Expect reposnse like whispering to him at the shopping centre or telling him quietly at night but what you really want them to say is…write Santa a Letter.
  • As a class or with your child discuss the text structure of a letter.  What does a letter start with?  Dear_____,  If you have previously written a letter in Day bring this letter back out!  
  • Have the children write (or you write for younger children) their letter to Santa. 
  • To help make this letter succinct and not a long list of demands, use the guide above and ask them to only include one thing they want, one thing they need, something to wear and something to read!
  • This will be a struggle for some children as they are completely focused on TOYS for Christmas! 
  • This is a good time to discuss that many children are less fortunate than them and will not be getting any presents this Christmas.  
  • Take your child to a department store and choose a gift for someone less fortunate, Big W and Kmart usually have Charity gift giving programs.
  • As a class, collect food, toys, toiletry items for a local charity.

Blank Santa Letter Template

Want, Need, Wear, Read Template

This printable gives children a space to write their introduction, a box for a picture of each item and a few lines to sound out the name of the item, and a line at the bottom to write their closing.  It is particularly good for beginner writers. 

ENGLISH – Writing – Literacy


Create short texts to explore, record and report ideas and events using familiar words and beginning writing knowledge (ACELY1651)

Year 1

Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)

Year 2

Create short imaginative, informative and persuasive texts using growing knowledge of text structures and language features for familiar and some less familiar audiences, selecting print and multimodal elements appropriate to the audience and purpose (ACELY1671)

So what do you want for Christmas? Me….Happy and Healthy Children who don’t whinge!!!

Day 1 ~ What it’s all about ~ Introducing the “My Christmas Elf” series

Over the next three weeks, “My Pigeon Pair” will be showcasing a series of ideas and activities to enrich your Christmas Elf experience. This series is called….. 

The activities are designed to be independent of each other so you can do as few or as many as you like!

To get back to basics and explore what the “Elf On The Shelf” concept is all about, check out my posts HERE and HERE.

But here is the “heads up” as to how the “My Christmas Elf” series will work.  

Each day is divided into four categories.

This is a printable card, that gives your children a “clue” as to where your elf is hiding and what that cheeky elf has been up to!  The Clue is written as a rhyme.  All Clue Cards for the first two weeks come as one A4 printable for you to download, print and cut.  If you are planning on continuing this tradition my suggestion would be to laminate the cards!  I will be! These will be available later this week.

This category offers suggestions on how to position your Elf to match that days clue and activity!  Get creative! 

The best learning occurs in context.  What better context to learn all about Maths, English, Cooking and Creating then through a magical Christmas Elf!

 This section will give you step by step instructions and ideas on how to turn each day with the elf into a learning experience.   This is your chance to catch a teachable moment amidst the awe and wonder the Elf will bring into your home.

Once your child has discovered the Elf, each mischievous position and clue card leads naturally onto a teachable moment and activity.

Once again flexibility is the key and each activity has been designed with both TEACHERS and PARENTS in mind.  Just adjust the activity to suit your student!

These activities are suited to children aged 2 -8 with age appropriate adjustments made by the parent or teacher.

The name says it all!  Many of the activities have a printable to take all the guesswork out of your Elf experience.  These worksheets and activities are aimed at varying learner levels.  If your little one is a pre writer you can do the activities together, with the parent or teacher playing scribe and the learner, the reporter, telling you all the answers.  But don’t underestimate the ability of the student!!!  It is amazing just how much students are capable of with a little ‘Elf Magic’ thrown in!  Remember this is a child centred activity, let them go at their own pace and be guided by the individual as to how you will complete the task.

Surely all this is just for fun and no “real” learning is happening!  Prove colleagues and other parents wrong with most activities being linked to the Australian Curriculum! Most activities are aimed at Pre-School students, Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2.  But many can also be adjusted for Years 3 and 4. 

So are you ready for the fun to begin?  Now is the time to get organised and to help you out here is the first FREE PRINTABLE! 

 “My Christmas Elf” Calendar

Simply Click The Link Above and Print!

This calendar is dated starting form November 25th and going all the way through to Christmas.  As you think of an Elf idea, jot it down in the To Do List section!

You can use this calendar to schedule in your families “Elf Appearances” or just to help get organised for the busy Christmas Season! 

Later in the series there will also be a

“Printable Calendar pre filled with fun elf activities”

for you and your family! 

Tomorrow some great ideas on how to welcome the Elf into your home!

Do you have any questions about The Christmas Elf?

Leave a comment on our Facebook page we are more than happy to help! 

“My Christmas Elf” ~ A Christmas Tradition

Oh how very true.  And I have been doing just that…..

Creating an experience, to share with somebody VERY special…



Late October “My Pigeon Pair” will be presenting……

“My Christmas Elf  ~

A Series of Fun and Educational,

ideas and activities to enrich your Christmas Elf Tradition!”  

“My Christmas Elf” will run over 20 days (Monday-Friday)

 on the “My Pigeon Pair” blog.  

Each day will feature; 

  • A new activity to enrich your Elf Tradition
  • Printables to enhance each activity
  • Positioning ideas for your Elf!
  • Australian Curriculum Links for Teachers of children Foundation – Year 3
  • Much, Much more!!!
This series is appropriate for children aged 2-8 and has been created for both Teachers and Parents! 
Why Late October?  Running the sereies a month before you really need it allows you time to organise and prepare for the busy Christmas season.  You can print and prepare as you go and come the 1st of December you will be ready to welcome to your Elf!  It also means school teachers with classes that finish at the end of November (like me!) will still be able to participate in this wonderful tradition!!!
What kind of activities?  Think writing, reading, maths, creating, crafting, cooking and just spreading some Christmas cheer! 
What does it cost?  Printer Ink and paper!!!  During the series all printables will be FREE.  Just share the love!  If you love it let your friends know! Oh and it will also help to have a few basic craft supplies on hand and a bit of imagination!
What if I don’t have time?  This series just gives you some ideas!  Each activity is completely separate to the one before it so you can do as many or as few as you like and at a time they suit you! 
How do I get involved?  
Sign up for blog updates via email in the sidebar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
“Like” My Pigeon Pair on Facebook
and be ready for a Christmas your children will never forget! 
So are you in???

A massive thanks to Lisa from “Life As We Know It

who is an absolute creative graphic genius! 

The Christmas Table

Forget about the food, what’s a Christmas meal without a beautifully set table!  Stick with a simple colour scheme, use what you already have, even let the kids help decorate your masterpiece!  Here are some simple and divinely effective ideas you can try at home!

Such simplicity can be so effective.  White napkins tied up with a sprig of rosemary and some red ribbon.

I love that this table is Christmasey without sticking to the traditional red and green.  So fresh and modern.

Of course “House of Smiths” had to make it into this list!  I love this wintery table centrepiece and decor.

Handy with the sewing machine?  Turn some pillow cases into chair covers with a Christmasy theme!  Love that even Rudolph gets a seat!

Yet again simple red and white with some basic candles decorated using some ribbon and candy canes cut up at the place cards.

The Kids Table!  This one is all set up ready to decorate some ice cream cones! How cute are those snow men!

Dessert tables are always a winner and this is no exception!  Love the colour coordinated stockings!

Feeling crafty?  Get the kids to help you paint some pine cones!  

A Winter Wonderland with what looks like plastic plates!  You have to love anything that requires less washing up!

Do you decorate your Christmas table?

You can find out more about these ideas and many more on PINTEREST

Tina Gray {dot} Me

A Christmas Station

Every spare space in our home has been overflowing with Christmas paraphenalia! Christmas cards, labels, calendars, craft and lists.  Remember our organisation station

I still had a second one of these clever IKEA storage boxes, so it’s time to get this Christmas sorted and create a “Christmas” station.

So I am now keeping pens, sticky tape, Christmas Cards, stamps, address labels, craft books, stickers and lists all in one place!  On the clipboard folder I have two calendars, a gift list and christmas card list.  I ended up using two calendars.  One for gift buying, christmas events, functions, parties, holiday bookings etc.  The second one for our Advent Activities and Elf on the shelf.  At last one place for all things Christmas!  

I am hoping to make this little station a permanent fixture in our house.  A space to keep our seasonal bits and pieces under control.  Back to School, Easter, Birthdays.  I think it will be getting a lot of use!

Only two days to go! Please vote!