Relief Teaching Ideas

Sharing ideas to help make relief teaching fun, enjoyable, and meaningful.

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Keeping Track of Books You Have Read

Relief Teacher Tip

I keep a post it note in the inside cover of the books that I read to classes. I record which classes I’ve read the book to & which ones I’ve done an activity with the book too.

It’s an easy way to keep track of which classes you’ve done what with!

I also have a checklist of activities and classes, that I keep in my folder. The post it notes are just a quick way to check when I’m choosing books to pack for the day!


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Fractured Colouring In Art Work

Here is a simple art idea, focusing on shape and colour choice.

Print off some simple drawings for students to choose from. I find that animal outlines work the best but you could also use pictures of transport, fruit, people, maps of countries (map of Australia turns out well), or other simple outlines.

Have students use a ruler to draw lines across the picture. The more lines, the smaller the sections will be. 15-20 lines are usually good for an A4 sized picture.

Discuss colour choice with students. What colour combinations complement each other? Which colours contrast? Discuss warm and cool colours. For my example I have chosen warm colours for inside the picture and cool colours for around it.

After students have coloured each section you can mount it on black or white card to frame it.


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Spelling Tic Tac Toe

This is one of my favourite spelling activities. Most students already know how to play the traditional version of Tic Tac Toe so it’s an easy one to introduce to classes. They can play on paper or on mini whiteboards.
Students play in pairs and take turns writing the word that they need the most practice with, into a box on the grid. First to get 3 in a row wins that round.
Students can choose a different word to practice for each round. The student who wins the most rounds is the winner.


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Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

What a delightful, whimsical book!

The Leaf Man uses the shapes and colours of different leaves as inspiration for its illustrations. The story explores where the mythical ‘Leaf Man’ goes, whenever the wind blows.


This gorgeous book was brought to my attention when I posted these photos of leaf creatures on my Facebook page.

Pictures & craft ideas found here:
and here:

One of our members mentioned that they had read The Leaf Man to their class and then used it as inspiration to create similar pictures. I ordered the book soon after!

I think it would make a lovely afternoon of reading, collecting leaves and then creating leaf creatures of their own. Students could also use their pictures as a writing prompt for a story or poem.

I will post photos of some leaf creatures that I have made soon!

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Roll a 6!

Did you ever play the Chocolate Game? It was a very popular birthday party game when I was at primary school. You would take turns rolling a die. If you rolled a 6 you would dress up in a silly costume & then use a knife & fork to cut & eat from a block of chocolate. It was a noisy, fast paced game, and we all loved it!

This is NOT that game but reminds me a little of it.

Roll a 6!


Each group will need:
– 1 piece of paper
– 1 die
– 1 pencil

How to Play

– Divide class into groups of 4 or 5
– Hand out equipment needed
– Students sit in a circle
– Students take turns rolling the die
– If they roll a 6 they start writing the numbers 1 – 100 on the piece of paper.
– When someone else rolls a 6 they take over the writing of the number, from wherever the previous person finished.
For example: Student A writes 1 – 12, Student B rolls a 6 so takes over & starts writing 13, 14, 15, etc…until the next person rolls a 6, and so on & on.
– The winner is the student who writes the number 100!


– Instead of rolling a 6, students need to roll a 1 (or any other number you choose)
– Have students write/count by 2s or 5s, instead of 1s
– Have students roll 2 dice. The dice have to add up to 10 for them to start writing (or any other +, – or x that you would like!)

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The Black Book of Colours

The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin is the most unique picture book I’ve come across.

Unlike traditional picture books about colours, this book invites readers to imagine colours through the perspective of a blind person, using a person’s senses to describe each colour, rather than using bright, colourful pictures.
“Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee.”
All of the illustrations are black and raised on a black background, and the text is written in both English and Braille.
The descriptions of each colour are sweet and childlike, and you can’t help but to touch all of the beautifully designed illustrations and Braille on each page. There is even a full Braille alphabet on the back page for you and your students to have a look at and touch.



Kathy, one of the members of our Facebook community, recently posted some 5 senses poetry that her students wrote after reading the book. I hadn’t heard of the book before but as soon as I saw her post I was intrigued. I now have my own copy and look forward to using it in the classroom.
I’ve written 5 senses poetry before with classes but never with this book. I think that it will be a great source of inspiration for the students.
Here is an example of a ‘Senses Poem’ that I have written.
Before writing the poem have students brainstorm different things that the colour reminds them of:

They can then brainstorm different describing words for each and choose which ones they would like to include in their poem.

This is just one idea for this book. There are so many more learning opportunities.

Students could:
– Discuss how we communicate ideas with each other.
– Investigate different forms of communication.
– Go outside, close their eyes for a few minutes. Record what they felt, heard & smelled.
– Imagine having to describe a simple household or school item to someone who had never seen it before. Write down how they would describe the item.
– Write their name or a simple message for a friend in Braille by pressing a pencil on the back of thin cardboard or by glueing small round beads onto card.
– Research Louis Braille and how he came up with the Braille alphabet.
– Choose a classroom item, hide it behind their backs & describe it to a partner to see if they can guess what it is.
– Create inference bags. Place a small item in a paper bag. On the front of the bag write 5 clues about what it is. Students rotate around the room, reading & recording what they think is in each bag.

For more teaching ideas based on this book, click here:


Rainbow Squiggle Line Drawing

By Emma Hessel

When I saw this idea on Relief Teaching Ideas, I just had to try it in the art room! The beauty of this activity is that it’s adaptable to most year levels. I’ve delivered this lesson to students between year 1 and 6 with success. The younger years may not be able to achieve quite the same impact as years 5 or 6, but they sure give it a red hot go!
I start this lesson by telling the children we will be doing a line drawing, and show them my own drawing I had prepared earlier. Their faces light up as they take in the psychedelic colours and patterns produced by a simple squiggle!

Students only need an A4 piece of paper and a marker to draw their squiggle, followed by twistable crayons or pencils for the colouring.

I demonstrate the technique on the board, drawing a squiggle with lots of “loop the loops” and intersecting lines. I explain that they need to make sure most of the page is covered by the squiggle, and they can add in extra squiggly lines to break up any large white spaces. This will make it easier to colour in the individual sections. On the other hand they don’t want TOO many squiggles, as they will need areas large enough to fill with several colours.

I demonstrate the colouring techniques for students on the board. First I show them how to colour from the outside of a section, working inwards, using rainbow colours. I suggest they colour in a strip of about 1cm width, colouring in a perpendicular angle to the line of marker (not parallel). This helps achieve the blended look between the colours.


Another technique they can use is to colour in rainbow stripes across more narrow sections, where colouring around the edges would otherwise result in a monotonous section of just one or two colours.

I remind them to choose different colours to start colouring the edges of each section, to give the finished artwork more contrast. This will also give them sections filled with different groups of colours, which looks great when it’s finished.
This lesson has been a real winner, and I love seeing the diverse range of creations the students come up with!

This guest post was written by Emma Hessel. Emma has been a wonderful supporter of our page. She regularly contributes ideas & inspirational photos on our Facebook group. I was excited when she agreed to write about one of her successful art lessons.
A big thank you to Emma for sharing this project with all of us!



Concertina Changing Pictures

I love an activity that only requires basic materials like A4 paper, pencils, rulers, scissors and glue.
These concertina pictures are a perfect example of how simple materials can create great results.

When you look at them straight on the pictures are mixed up. When you look from either side a different picture is revealed!

They can be a bit fiddly to piece together so I would recommend this activity for years 4 and up. Some year 3 classes may be okay to do this too.

Here are a few ideas for pictures:
– showing changes in seasons
– as a follow up to reading the book ‘My Place’ by Nadia Wheatley, showing a house or scene changed over time
– a dormant and active volcano
– a face showing two different emotions
– a clean and polluted environment
– sunrise and day time
– night and day
– a person aging

To create a picture you will need two A4 pieces of paper (one cut in half), scissors, glue, ruler, and markers & pencils.


Draw a picture on one of the pieces of paper you have cut in half. I have found that simple pictures often work the best. I have also found that it is easier to go over your drawing in black marker so that it is easy to trace over the design onto the other piece of paper.


Trace whatever shape or picture you want to be the same on both pictures.

Draw both of your pictures.

Flip the pictures over and use a ruler to mark out and draw even vertical strips. Mine were 2.5cm wide. Label one page with numbers (I had 1-6) and the other with letters (I had A-F).


On the other piece of paper (the full A4 sized piece) mark out lines the same size as the ones you did on the back of the pictures.
IMPORTANT: Label these from RIGHT to LEFT (opposite to how you would normally), alternating numbers & letters. In my picture they read – 6, F, 5, E, 4, D, 3, C, 2, B, 1, A
Cut out the strips on the pictures. Make sure to try to cut as straight as you can!

Glue the strips down onto the A4 paper, matching up the correct numbers and letters.

Fold the paper concertina style.

Open up to reveal the pictures! You can also glue or staple the end pieces to a piece of paper or card to make it easier to display on a wall.




Let me know if if you give these pictures a try or if you have any other ideas of how to use them!

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Casual Relief Teaching Helpful Tips, Forms & Checklists

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I’ve just uploaded a new product to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store – ‘Casual Relief Teaching – Tips, Helpful Forms & Checklists’.

These forms and checklists are all resources that I have used myself, and I find them really helpful in keeping me organised. I hope that you find them just as useful!