California Mom Creates Amazing Elf on Shelf Scenes to Teach Her Kids About Socially Relevant Topics

"When it's in this setting, they really remember things!" Michele Bell tells PEOPLE

Photo: Michele Bell

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring – except Alfie the Elf!

Finley Bell, 9, and her brothers Sanders, 7, and Charlie, 4, have raced to find their beloved Elf on the Shelf, Alfie, every morning during the month of December for the past six years. The siblings “scream and jump” each time they discover their socially and culturally aware doll placed in a new extravagant set-up in their San Francisco, California, home.

Their mother, Michele Bell, 40, uses the popular holiday tradition as an opportunity to educate her children on world politics, social issues and pop culture.

“It’s fun, but I’m also using these to teach my kids about relevant things going on around the world,” Bell tells PEOPLE. “It captures them for a lesson. When it’s in this setting, they really remember things!”

Alfie, who has his own Instagram account and blog, has made nods in the past to Nelson Mandela, The Beatles and Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

This year, Bell, who spends anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours on each set, has paid tribute to the new Star Wars movie, Adele’s “Hello” and the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

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“Alfie used to just appear normally like in our Christmas tree or on our mantle,” she says. “But as the years went by, he kept getting more and more elaborate. Honestly, at this point it’s as much fun for me as it is for my kids.”

“I just hope my kids don’t look back when they are grown up and think, ‘Wow my mom was such a fruitcake!’ ” the mother-of-three adds.

Take a look at some of Alfie’s best appearances this year:

“When they saw this one, they said, ‘Mommy, why is Alfie playing the guitar with gummy bears?’ I had much explaining to do,” says Bell.

“Almost all of the decorations I use are made of felt,” Bell shares.

“The kids absolutely love Star Wars and can’t stop talking about the new movie coming out,” she says.

“Our political nod to the GOP debate. I had to add include Hillary though, because how could she not be included!” Bell says.

“The kids know what happened. But I hope they remember this. The takeaway was that no matter where something happens we are all affected by it. We, the world, are all in this together,” the devoted mom says.

“My daughter knows about Adele’s ‘Hello,’ but I wanted to bridge the generational gap. So I told them about my ‘Hello,’ which was by Lionel Richie,” Bell adds.

“They immediately started dancing when they saw this one. I didn’t even know they knew what the whip/nae nae was! I died laughing,” she says.

“I’ve always wanted to go. Alfie is a burner here. Surprisingly this one didn’t take too long,” Bell shares.

“My daughter absolutely loves art and we actually saw this Vermeer painting at an exhibit!” Bell says

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