Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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One Word

This is a great filler activity if you have a few minutes until the bell goes. It also helps students practice story telling, their oral language and logical thinking.

-Students sit in a circle or, if they’re at their desks, determine which order they’ll be going in.
– Each person says one word and the next person adds to it, and so on and so on, and it turns into a story.
– For example, Grace says “The,” Sam says “mouse,” and Tom says “tiptoed.”

It’s a simple concept but it requires that everyone pays attention, so that they follow the story, and don’t say a word that doesn’t fit in or make sense.
This game can go for as long or as short as you like! For an added challenge you can set a topic, setting, theme or genre. (Eg: A mystery, set at the zoo, involving monkeys.)
If it gets too silly you can start the game over.

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Junk Mail Cut Outs

I like the idea of the whole class or small groups working together, searching, cutting & then pasting to create class displays.

Draw up a big letter or number, or write the focus topic in the centre of a large piece of paper. Hand out magazines* & have the students search, cut & glue onto the chart.

You could get the kids to hunt for:
Words that have a particular sound in them
Colours (create a rainbow display)
Punctuation marks (!?,”;)
Synonyms for “said”
Conjunctions/joining words (and, but, when, or, so…)

*Just a note about using magazines in the classroom….Try to avoid gossip or fashion magazines because they often have inappropriate content for little ones! Most junk mail, travel, food & house magazines are safe though.

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Ascending & Descending Order

Here’s a great way for kids to visualize ascending & descending order, with the added bonus of some measuring practice thrown in!

-Have students cut straws into 10 pieces.
-Arrange 5 of these pieces in ascending order.
-The other 5 need to be arranged in descending order.
-Tape or glue the straw pieces to the paper.
– Students then use a ruler to measure the length of each straw. Record the lengths under each straw.



Paper Bag Books

I have seen some great paper bag books floating around Pinterest. Unfortunately, in Australia, it is very hard to find the type of paper bags that you need for this project, especially for a reasonable price!

I decided to try to make my own version with the typical Home Brand style paper bags that you can buy at the grocery store. It is a simpler version but I’m still pretty happy with how they turned out!

Basically, a paper bag book is a book made from paper bags! You stack the paper bags on top of each other & staple or bind the closed off ends of the bags together. You can then decorate, draw & write on the paper bag pages. Alternatively you can glue paper onto the pages to write & draw on. Pretty simple, huh?

You can then place card/paper inserts, or other flat objects like photos, paper cut outs, postcards, etc, into the open part of the bag. You can attach smaller pieces to string or popsticks & then sticky tape the string to the inside of the bag so you don’t lose them.












They are so versatile. They can be used to present work or projects, to record trips or excursions, or to review a unit of work. They can be adapted to suit all ages too!

More paper bag book ideas:
– All About Me (Place photos or special items, like 1st birthday cards, in the pockets.)
– Alphabet or Number Books
– Poetry
– Holiday Journal (Photos, ticket stubs, postcards, pamphlets can go into the pockets)
– Highlights of Grade __
– Revision or project for science, health or Society & Environment topics (eg: Australian States & their flags and emblems)
– Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift book
– Book Reports
– LOTE (eg: Items of clothes in Japanese – in the pockets put paper clothes to dress a paper doll that’s attached to the book)

Insert Ideas:
– Moving eyes on a popstick (cut out eye holes & draw eyes on a popstick that you can put in the bag insert & move around)
– Turning wheel with a window cut out of the paper bag page to show the different pictures you’ve drawn on the wheel
– Characters attached to string that can be pulled out from a pocket
– Answers to questions that you’ve written on the outer part of the bag
– Ribbons or coloured in masking tape tags sticking out of the edges to help pull inserts out

If you can find the American style paper bags that can be opened up to have sides & a bottom then you can make some pretty special looking books.

I would love to try some of the ideas found on these pages too:!)&m=1

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Colouring Book Stories


I have a collection of colouring books that I purchased at various $2 shops. Some have very simple pictures suitable for younger grades, others have more intricate, elaborate pictures, more suitable for older grades. I’ve also tried to choose a wide variety of topics to suit different tastes!
I show & read my example to the class & explain that the picture I chose shows the ending of my story.
Students can choose a picture from a book & I help them carefully rip out a page. They need to decide if the picture is showing the beginning (setting/characters), middle (problem) or ending (resolution) of the problem.
They glue the colouring page into their writing book or on a piece of A3 paper. They then write a story to go with the picture they chose. If they are using an A3 piece of paper have them write their story on lined paper & glue this to the A3 paper, alongside the picture. If their story is longer than 1 page they can glue the top of the first page over the top of the bottom page, so they can lift it up to see the rest of the story.
When they’ve finished their writing they can add a title & a border and then colour in the picture.




4D Trioramas


I accidently came up with this idea when arranging some normal trioramas. They fit so well together! I’m sure other people have done this before & it’s not a new idea but it was a revelation to me. 🙂

I glued the four trioramas together to make one display. You could paper clip them together if it was a group project & each child wanted to take home their own work at the end of term.

This 4D triorama could be used for book reports, story sequencing, science projects, geography studies, other SOSE topics or whatever else you can come up with!

Here’s how I made it:

1. I started off with plain A4 paper. Card would work better but I didn’t have any to use.

2. Fold down top right corner. Make a crease. Do the same for the top left corner.


3. Flip the paper over & fold the bottom edge up. Make a crease. Open it up again & then fold a line 2 cm up. Make a crease.


4. Turn the page back over again. Open up all of the folds. Cut the top right diagonal to the centre point.

5. Add text to the bottom flap. Leave the bottom 2cm section blank.
Decorate the bottom, left & right triangles. Leave the top triangle blank.

6. Add glue to the blank top triangle & fold & glue it behind the right triangle, forming the triorama.

7. You can either leave it like this, with the text hanging over the desk, or glue 3 more completed trioramas together.

8. Turn them upside down & glue the overlapping corners of the 2cm flaps you folded earlier. This will form the base.

9. Add paper cutouts, modeling clay, figurines, etc, to finish off the display.


So that’s how I made up my 4D triorama! This one is only an example so I didn’t spend too much time on the written research or illustrations. 🙂
I think they would be a fantastic project for kids to work on in the classroom & I’m sure that they could come up with WAY better finished products than this one!

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Super Lemon Suds!

Science fun, with a little cleaning thrown in! 🙂

This simple science idea, showing the chemical reaction that occurs when you mix citric acid with bicarb soda, has the added fun of bubbles!

-Clear container or cup
-Measuring spoon
– Spoon or stirrer (I used a chopstick!)
– Liquid dish soap
– Bicarb soda
– Lemon cut in half

1. Put about 1 tsp of bicarb soda in cup.
2. Stir in about 1 tsp of dish soap.

3. Squeeze lemon juice into cup & give it a stir.
4. Watch the bubbles form & rise up!

When you mix citric acid (the lemon juice) with bicarb soda a chemical reaction occurs, creating carbon dioxide gas & water. The gas is seen as bubbles but when you add the dish soap it creates even more bubbles.

Students could test out what happens with different brands of dish soap, different amounts & ratios of the ingredients or what happens when you leave one of the ingredients out.
Students could also conduct an experiment on the cleaning power of the lemon/bicarb mixture.
After we finished making A LOT of bubbles we used the lemon scented mixture to clean the kitchen benches & sink.
If you did this experiment in the classroom the kids could wipe down their desks at the end of the lesson & it would leave the room smelling lemon fresh. Lemon is a safe, natural antibacterial cleaner!

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Sentence Stretching

– A good activity to highlight the importance of editing, the use of adjectives & adverbs and being selective with word choice.

Hand each student a piece of paper & get them to write a very basic, short sentence (eg: The boy went to the park).
Pass it along to 5 people, with the rule that each person must ADD another word or CHANGE one word to another word to make the sentence more specific and more interesting.
The sentence then gets passed back to the original writer. Compare & discuss how the sentence has changed. Discuss how writers constantly revise & edit their work by adding, changing or removing words.



Friendly Fish or Piranha?!

Yesterday I was working in an Art Room & I got one of the classes to make some ‘Fish or Piranha’ pictures – so much fun!

I originally saw this idea on Pinterest. Here is the original link:


I really loved this clever art project & wanted to try it but when I clicked on the link the instructions weren’t in English. By looking at the pictures & playing around with some paper, I think I worked out the fold correctly. 🙂

1. Start off with a piece of drawing paper. I used an A4 sized piece but if you had more time, students could make A3 sized pictures.

2. Lift up the bottom edge & fold the paper on half.

3. Fold down the top flap.

4. Draw the fish in pencil. Draw in a small smile, close to & touching the fold line. Add spots, scales or lines to decorate. It’s very important to draw all the fish detail in first so that when it’s folded down all the lines join up!

5. Open up & finish piranha – connect lines, draw mouth & teeth (first bottom tooth starts from the smile line).


6. Go over with black marker.

7. Add colour with pencils, crayons or water colours. I used crayons for this example.



Hope you enjoy this art project as much as I did!


50 Word Story Challenge!

A 50 Word Story is more of a snapshot in time, rather than a full length story. Like the name suggests, it is only made up of 50 words, including the title, and usually has a surprise ending or twist.

This task is best suited for middle to upper grades. It hones a student’s writing skills & focuses on writing concisely, careful word choice & ruthless editing!

I saw this writing exercise in a creative writing for older grades book that I had & then unfortunately lost many, years ago. I’m so sad that I misplaced this book because it had so many great ideas in it! If I could remember the name of it I would list it here as the source. My apologies!

Because I lost the book I had to come up with my own examples when I ran a 50 Word Story Competition with a year 4 class.

Here are two of my examples:

1. The Ballerina
Music fills the room. The ballerina, always poised and delicate, dances, arm held high, feet pointed. Her pink dress sparkles as she twirls around. Her audience, a little girl, watches in awe and claps with delight.
“Dinner!” her mother calls.
The girl closes her jewellery box.
“Coming mum.”

2. And the winner is…
Crouching at the finish line, heart pounding, nervous tension in the air. Starter’s gun goes off with a BANG! Muscles spring into action. Must win. Everything focused on the finishing line. Concentrate. Ignore distractions.
“Run! Run! Run!” the crowd yells.
Face first on asphalt.

After reading my examples to students I would show them my draft copies. I told them that before I started writing I worked out the twist or ending of my story & worked towards that. I pointed out how, as I wrote, I crossed words out, rewrote sections, added & took away words, until I had a 50 word story that I was happy with.

I would also stress that it wasn’t like a normal story with character development, great descriptions of setting or problems & resolutions. Instead it was a snapshot in time.
We would brainstorm other ideas & I would start another example on the board for students to contribute to & see the writing process that I would go through.
When they were confident I would then send them to their seats to have a go by themselves.
Even the more reluctant writers were happy to have a go. The 50 word limit made the task of writing a story not as daunting!
As students wrote, edited & rewrote we had some valuable conferencing time discussing how important word choice was. They needed to make every word count!