The Great Elf Game

Seasonal fun! Take your chances with the weather as you go in to business as Santa Claus selling Christmas trees!'

You are all going in to business against each other selling christmas trees for the month of December! You'll need to apply your knowledge of probability, formulae, percentages, general arithmetic and business sense. You have 12 elves working for you and your job is to send them out to get Christmas trees for you to sell! Of course, the trees they can get for you depend somewhat on the weather and that is subject to chance (the roll of a dice). The rules are simple. You can send your Elves to the nearby woods to get small trees that you can sell for $10. They always come back with trees whatever the weather. The bigger trees in the far away forest are worth $20, but the elves can't bring those back in the snow, so if it snows they come back empty handed. This is how things start, but there are all sorts of complications and twists along the way. Are your elves content? Will they strike if they don't get a day off? Will the tax man come calling? Can you increase your workforce? Will they open the mountain road for some seriously big trees? All these things and more in 'The Great Elf Game'! Good Luck!


You can use the  Elf game spreadsheet to help you record your earnings and keep your books. If you don't have access to computers then it can be printed and copied. It might help to blow it up to A3. There are no formulae in this page so part of the challenge is organising your accounts with the right formulae. The  Elf Game guide can been viewed or printed and is embedded below. This is great fun with  giant foam dice (example link) otherwise you can use one of the many  Virtual dice available

Get Started

The following video is a quick guide to getting started with the elf game for teachers and students a like.

The Elf Game Guide

Please find below the guide referred to above. It can be printed here.


The following is a brief overview of the activity

  • Students download and save a copy of the spreadsheet. If this is being done on paper then teachers will need to print and copy this.
  • Go through the rules of the game carefully.
  • Students allocate their elves for the first day of December.
  • The dice is rolled and 1-4 means it is a nice day, while 5 and 6 means it is a blizzard and no trees can come back from the far away woods.
  • Students calculate how much money they should get from each of the locations and caclulate a toal for the day and a running total of the days so far.
  • The process is repeated for day two and so on.
  • Special events such as lotteries, strikes, visits from the Tax Man etc are accounted for in the extras column.
  • After 24 days, or at the end of the lesson the student with the most money wins the game!


Below are just a couple of quick notes for teachers.

Computers Vs Paper - This is great on computers because of the opportunity to get students programming spreadsheets with formulae. On paper its a great exercise in arithmetic and calculations.

Adaptability - The features of this game can be adapted in numerous ways to simplify it, to add twists and to make it appropriate for your classes.

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