Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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Using Chatterboxes as a Revision Tool

I used to love making these as a kid! They have a few different names (cootie catcher, fortune teller) but I’ve always known them as chatterboxes.

They are a fun toy but can also be a great way for students to practice math facts, sight words, spelling & vocabulary, revise a unit of work, test their comprehension of a text or even provide a story starter.

I have a book of multiplication chatterboxes that are photocopiable. However, as a relief teacher, you don’t always have access to a photocopier. Instead it is easy enough for students to make their own. Plus, I think students are more likely to remember the facts they are practicing if they actually write them out themselves!

Here’s one I made to revise Australian capital cities:



Charlotte’s Web:

Times Table Facts:

Just in case you can’t remember how to make them, here’s a quick tutorial:

1. Fold over the corner of a an A4 piece of paper to make a large triangle. Cut off the rectangle bit on the side & put into the scrap paper box.

2. Open up the piece of paper & fold over the other corner to make a triangle. Open up again to reveal these creases.

3. Fold each corner into the centre.


4. Turn the paper over and then fold the corners into the centre again.




5. Cut down the centre of each of the 4 triangle flaps, to create 8 smaller flaps.


6. Flatten all the flaps down and fold the paper in half.



7. Place your thumbs and forefingers in the four openings. Push open and then in towards the centre to manipulate into shape.


8. Flatten again, to write out facts or questions.



Done! And ready to play!



For some more ideas & free printable chatterboxes you can also check out this fantastic page:

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Hide & Seek Maths

Here is an activity that’s easy to set up, can be adapted for different age levels & that kids enjoy because they get to move around!

Number Post-It notes and write a different math question on each one. These can be simple math fact questions, lines to measure with a ruler, pictures of 2D and 3D shapes, word problems, or any other type questions you want the students to practice.

Hide the Post-it notes around the room – under desks & chairs, under the whiteboard ruler, on a bookshelf, camouflaged amongst wall displays.

Give kids a numbered answer sheet and clip boards. See if they can find and solve all of the problems!

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School Holiday Sharing

When students return from vacation they are often asked to share what they have been up to during their break from school. Here are a few ideas of how they can do this:

Two Stars & A Wish


This FREE printable can be used by students to share two great things about their holidays & one thing they wish they had been able to do.
You can also use this for students to self assess their work, to review an excursion or another special event, or to fill out about a book they’ve read.
I’ve used this type of sheet many times before, however this one is a lot prettier than the one I used to use!
You can also have students divide their page in three & draw their own stars & wish, instead of photocopying. 🙂

Holiday Postcard


Print out for students to illustrate & write about what they did on the school holidays.
If they didn’t go anywhere, what did they do at home or vacation care? Read, watch movies, visit friends?

News Report

Have students write a newspaper article about an event that happened during the holidays. It can be a sports report (a game they played or went to see), a movie or book review, a travel report, or something exciting that occurred (a new baby sister, a missing toy that was found, a new pet).
You can then collate the articles to create a class newspaper to keep & display in your class library. You could even print off a copy for each student!

Alternatively, have students create news reports to record using on the iPad. Collate to create a TV news episode for the class to view.

Partner News Sharing

A twist on traditional news sharing:
After a long weekend or the school holidays, many students return wanting to share what they did during their break.

Here’s an idea to ensure that all students are engaged in the news sharing.
– Pair students up
– One partner shares for 1 minute* while the other listens carefully.
– Swap roles so the other person can share for 1 minute.
– Bring the class together & then choose students to share what their PARTNER did on the weekend.
– Check in with their partner to see if they remembered the details correctly!

*I find even the most reluctant sharers are willing to have a go when they hear they only have to talk for 1 minute!

Fact or Fiction?

A writing task for after holidays or a long weekend!

Students are often asked to write a recount of what they did on the weekend or during their holidays.
Here’s an idea to motivate those students who complain that they never have anything to write about!!

– Have students choose between writing what they really did or be creative and make something up!
– They need to include the who, what, when, where & why of a normal recount.
– If they are writing a fictional piece they can either make it sound believable (eg I went to the zoo with my family & we had a picnic lunch) OR they can be a little silly with it (I went to the moon with my pet iguana & we ate purple twisties).
– After students write their piece they can either illustrate or write another recount (the opposite of what they chose first).
– Students can then read out their recounts for the other students & teacher to guess whether their recount is FACT or FICTION.

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Book Character Dress Up Ideas

Book Week Dress Up Day will be here before you know it!
This post will hopefully give you a few ideas if you’re looking for inspiration. If you’re a relief teacher you never know…you may be called in to work that day!

Some schools are a little lenient in what constitutes as a book character. However, for the schools that require a book to go along with the costume, I’ve included the books that match the costume. For some, like the animal masks, there are heaps of options! I’ve only listed one per link so you can just get an idea.

A lot of the links show children’s costume ideas. These can be easily adapted to suit an adult.
This year’s Book Week theme is “Reading Across the Universe.” I thought this very simple jet pack was super clever and would suit the theme perfectly!


Monster Mask
‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak


Animal Masks
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrea


Superhero Masks
Superhero: Terror in Tights by Melvin Beederman


Spider Costume
Charlotte’s Web by EB White


Old Man from Up!
Up! Little Golden Book version


The Paperbag Princess
The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch


The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt


Thing 1 & Thing 2
The Cat and the Hat by Dr Seuss


The BFG by Roald Dahl
BFG ears – wear with a white shirt, vest & pants.


Mr Men Series
Mr Bump:
Mr Strong:


Robot Zot! By Jon Scieszka!/entry/how-to-make-a-diy-cardboard-box-robot-halloween-costume,519bea0eda27f5d9d0cb9b6c/media/33,robots


& finally….the Oompa Loompa costume I wore a few years ago (a pregnant Oompa Loompa!) All three grade 3 teachers dressed up as Oompa Loompas from Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. It’s fun to have a year level theme!

– I bought the green wig from spotlight & used an orangey blush & white eyeliner on my face.
– We rolled the wigs into shape & used a lot of hairspray & pins to keep in place!
– I dyed a cheap white skivvy brown and wore it with white long shorts, tucked into the long striped socks.
– The white gloves were cheap dusting gloves found in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket.
– The straps were made from wide ribbon & brown felt cut into circles.
– I attached the straps to the shorts with safety pins.
– I used double sided tape to attach the green pom poms to my shoes.

Hope this list has helped to inspire you. Good luck & have some fun with it! 🙂

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Straw Rocket Launcher

My little boy doesn’t sit still long enough to watch much TV. However, one of the few shows he LOVES & will watch is Mr Maker. He loves the crafts (especially when scissors & glue are involved) & he loves the shapes.
Last week we borrowed a Mr Maker DVD from the library. We got so many good crafting ideas from it! One of these was the straw rocket launcher he made.
I thought they would not only be fun for us to make & play with at home, but would also be a great craft to do in the classroom.
They would match a classroom space theme, go well with a book like “Little Rocket’s Special Star” by Julie Sykes or be a fun way to practice counting down from 10 for a rocket blast off!

Our laptop is out of action right now (thank goodness for Smartphones!) so I had to draw our rocket & shooting star. You could easily Google and find outlines to print & use instead of drawing them.

Here’s how we made ours:

1. Fold a piece of paper in half.

2. Draw one side of the rocket & colour.

3. Cut out the rocket. Because the page is folded in half, when you cut you will be left with two rockets, exactly the same. If you’re printing yours from the computer you can just print 2 copies!

4. Decorate & colour the 2nd rocket.

5. Glue both sides together, leaving a small opening at the bottom, leading to the centre. I also added some cellophane for a flame effect.

6. Insert a straw in the opening.

7. Blow through the straw & watch your rocket (or star) fly through the air!

A few things we discovered while we made & tested ours…
make sure all the edges are sealed, except for the opening, or it won’t work! We ended up glueing around the rocket opening, to make it smaller than what it is pictured above.
– adding a paper clip to the top of the rocket makes it work better
– smaller shapes work better than larger; next time I will make the rocket half the size!
– card works better than paper

We had lots of fun launching both the shooting star & rocket around the house!



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Movie Camera Game

The Movie Camera Game is a fun fitness activity that doesn’t require any equipment.

Students move around a set area, according to what the teacher calls out.

Play = walk around
Pause = jump
Stop = freeze
Fast Forward = run
Rewind = move backwards
Slow Motion = move very slowly
Delete = lay face first on the ground

For an added twist you can also announce what type of scene they need to act out.

Some examples of scenes to act out:
-An African safari with animals roaming around
– People walking to work in the city
– Fish swimming under the sea
– Farm animals in a barn