Recycled Christmas Elf Craft

A fun craft for kids that uses geometric shapes to make a Christmas Elf!

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Inside: How to make an Christmas elf out of paper. Idea for a paper Elf Christmas craft project for kids.

I’ve seen Christmas elves perform well as temporary behavioural centinels for pre-school children at the beginning of December. Phrases like “Remember the Elf is watching if you are good!” are often heard around these fellas.

The truth is they are a lot of fun to see hanging around the room and the children love making them.

#Christmas DIY Elf on the Shelf toilet tube #craft for teachers of #preschool kids

Video Tutorial:

How is this Christmas Elf project good for my educational-crafts-only classroom?

This Christmas activity for young children aims to encourage the use of mathematical language (geometric shapes) amongst the children, as well as providing an opportunity for a good fine motor skills workout with all that zig-zag folding going on.

This idea can be used to introduce the concept of geometric shapes to toddlers during this time of the year.

For the Early Years curriculum in the UK, it covers the area of expressive arts and design as each child will personalize their elf in their own unique way.

If you make the Elves in groups, you can use them as Christmas decorations for a kindergarten classroom. “Look Ma’, that’s my Elf!”

#Cardboard toilet tube elfs friends picture of #DIY #christmas #elf-on-the-shelf craft for preschool kids


  • You can either draw the Elf’s face in a circle or download my printable template (link at the bottom of this page).
  • Construction paper, scissors and any type of glue (or even tape!).
  • Cardboard rolls (I cut kitchen rolls in half)
  • Random craft bits for personalization.
Craft supplies needed to make an Elf on the shelf for preschool at Christmas
DIY #Christmas #Elf on the Shelf toilet tube craft for teachers of preschool kids

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Make an Easy Elf on the Shelve

First part of a step by step how to make a paper elf

1. Colour Elf’s head as you want.

2. Cut out one green triangle for Elf’s hat, and one green square or rectangle for the body. It doesn’t matter how big or small, that is up to you. Elf trusts you.

Elf face template for making elfs on the shelf at christmas time with the kids

3. Use the provided templates or cut out four strips of red paper about as thick as your finger and as long as you want them to be. They are the legs and arms of Elf.

Free Printable Numbers 1-10 with Animal Designs

First part of a step by step how to make a paper elf

4. Fold Elf’s arms and legs in a zig-zag fashion until they look like little accordeons and then let go. It feels nice to let go.

5. Glue one end of those zig-zaggy arms and legs to Elf’s body, and then glue the body to the cardboard roll. Make sure Elf’s square is at the same level of the edge of the cardboard roll. So Elf can have a bottom and sit! Thanks.

6. Personalise Elf’s looks however you please. Then place them on a shelf.

Personal Photo-Elves Idea

Make this craft using the children’s photos and turn the kids into Christmas elves!

Examples of finished elf crafts, some using a template and some using real student's photos.

Creative Christmas Bulletin Board Idea for the Classroom

Make this Elfs using a photo of everyone in the class and instead of using a cardboard roll, staple the elves directly on to the bulletin board.

DIY #Christmas #Elfs on the Shelf toilet tube craft for teachers of preschool kids

I’d love to see how everybody’s Elves turn out.

If you make this craft please consider sending me a photo of your Elves in a private message on Facebook or Instagram. Thank you!

Need more ideas for Christmas in Preschool?


Christmas Tree Activity for Preschool

Christmas Craft Activities for Preschool: Santa, Snowman and reindeer crafts
Complete the Christmas characters

Cut and paste Christmas Card project for kids

DIY Cut-and-Paste Christmas Card

Download PDF:

Option 1 (Teachers Pay Teachers account required)


Option 2 (Gumroad – no account required)


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