Relief Teaching Ideas

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

Leave a comment

Still Waters

Still Waters – A game to quieten K-3 students quickly
*especially good to use before moving to a specialist lesson or assembly*

1. Tell the class that you will be playing a game called “Still Waters” throughout the day. They will know when the game starts when you say, “1,2,3,3,2,1 Still Waters has begun.”

2. When they hear this they are to freeze and not say a word or move.

3. Time them to see how long they can stay still as a whole class.The goal is for them to break their best record.

4. You will hold your fist in the air and each time you see someone move or talk, you put a finger up and stop when you have all five up. Let the class know how many seconds they lasted for!

5. By this time you will have their attention and can give them instructions or directions for the lesson…

They don’t usually last long before someone moves!


What is the Question?

This is an activity that is usually used in maths but I think it also works really well as a revision tool!

Simply write an answer on the board, students then write questions to match the answer on post it notes. They can read through their notes or handouts to help them. They can stick their questions around the board.

Alternatively, they can write the answer in their books & list questions under or around it.

You can use this activity to:
– review a person, place or thing
– look at a character or setting of a book the class has read
– practice number sense (write a number as the answer & students need to write equations to equal that number.)

I love how versatile & easy to set up this activity is! Hope you find it useful too!

1 Comment

Pasta Skeletons

Here’s a fun activity to do! After kids have been learning about the skeletal system, have them create a pasta skeleton.
I bought as many different types of pasta as I could find at the grocery store. I gave students black card, glue & q-tips & let them choose what types of pasta they would use to come up with their own designs!
They were allowed to refer to diagrams of the human skeleton, that they had in their health books & that I had displayed in the room. When the students were finished, they labelled their skeleton using lead pencil.
I loved how each of their skeletons was unique!




Simple Book Review Pamphlet

As a relief teacher you probably won’t always have access to a photocopier. Here is a way for students to create a book report from a piece of white A4 paper.
Depending on the age of the students, either you can fold the paper into 3 sections or you can show them how to do it.

On the front cover students can design a new cover for the book they are reviewing. It needs to include the title, author and an illustration.

On the inside cover students can list and draw the characters. They can also either describe or draw the setting.

On the back cover they can give the book a rating. They can also give reasons for their rating. I hand out sticker stars (the type you get really cheaply at the grocery store or discount stores) for the students to use for their rating. They love using them!

On the inside of the pamphlet, have the students write & draw the beginning, middle and end of the story.

These can be kept near the class library for students to read, to help them choose their next book!
If you have limited time, you can simply have the students fold the page into 3 sections and just do the ‘beginning, middle & end’ of the story.



Leave a comment

Seating Chart

Just a quick tip for any relief teachers out there!

One of the first things I do when I go into a new classroom (after reading through the teacher’s notes!) is draw up a quick seating chart.
I will walk around & check for desk name tags, pencil cases or books with names on them, to help me fill out my chart. When I do the morning roll call, I double check that I have the correct names marked down.
Knowing the students’ names & where they sit is a HUGE help with behaviour management!


Popcorn Maths

We’re a little popcorn mad at the moment. My almost 3 year old has recently discovered the fun of making & eating popcorn from our air popper. A lot safer (but probably not as exciting) as the pot & oil my dad used to use! As kids, we used to stand around the stove, trying to catch the pieces flying out of the pot!

When I saw this writing prompt idea from ‘Apples to Appliqué’ on Pinterest, the red & white popcorn box immediately caught my eye!

I thought it would make a fun maths activity.

I had some popcorn boxes that I had bought from Woolworths. I found them near the party supplies, in case you were interested!

I filled the popcorn boxes with crumpled up pieces of yellow and white paper. I didn’t bother to make popcorn shapes but that would be cute if you had the time!

On the white paper (plain popcorn) I wrote numbers, on the yellow (buttered popcorn) I wrote math symbols (+ – x ). I didn’t include the division symbol because it would’ve made the activity too complicated! Depending on your class year level, you can choose larger or smaller numbers, and the types of symbols, to suit the students’ abilities.

You could also enlist the help of the students to write on the pieces of paper. That would make it a lot easier to create enough boxes for each group or pair. Store the popcorn pieces on ziplock bags for later use.

Students can then choose 2 pieces of white popcorn and 1 piece of yellow. They write the equation and answer in their books. Some students may only do 5 questions in the set time, others may complete 20!


1 Comment

Spring Forward Craft

Daylight savings kicked in for most Australian states this past weekend. I grew up in Western Australia, a state that doesn’t have daylight savings. Since moving to Adelaide I would find myself confused every time it came around. Do I add or take away an hour?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it! It’s nice not to be woken up at 5am by the sun blazing through the windows.

Someone, very helpfully, told me the trick to remember which way the clocks go – “Spring forward, Fall back”. Since then I’ve managed not to get the clock change wrong. (Although it sometimes still takes a month or so until I change my car clock over!)

To help kids remember which way the clocks change, I came up with this super simple clock craft.

Students draw a clock face on the inner part of a paper plate. I prefer students draw their own, rather than use a photocopied clock face, to see if they know the correct position of the numbers.

They can then make a spring by wrapping a pipe cleaner around their finger. This can be set aside, ready for the next step.

They will then cut out the clock hands from coloured card. Instead of attaching the hands with a brass fastener or brad, they can trim the fuzzy material from the bottom of the pipe cleaner and use that to pierce through the clock hands and the paper plate.

Around the rim of the plate, students can write the heading ‘Spring Forward’ & then decorate with flowers, butterflies or any other Spring related pictures.

Now time to go and enjoy this extra bit of sunshine in our evening!

Daylight savings explained:


Fraction Art

Students create a colourful art piece while learning about shape, symmetry & fractions!

1. Trace around a circle shape onto coloured paper. I used a plastic lid. If you don’t have coloured paper, students can colour the circles in before they cut them out.

2. Cut the circles out.

3. Fold the circles into halves, quarters & eighths.


4. Cut along the fold lines to create fraction pieces.

5. Give students time to investigate & explore the fraction pieces. Discuss equivalent fractions (how many eighths fit into a half?) & practice adding & subtracting fractions.


6. When students are finished exploring, have them create a symmetrical picture using their fractions pieces. They don’t need to use all of their pieces! They can glue their picture onto white or black paper/card.

These make a fantastic bulletin board display!


Leave a comment

Place Value Envelopes – What’s My Number?

I just made these cards very simply by cutting up coloured paper, hand writing the numbers on them & then popped them into numbered envelopes. Students choose an envelope, sort & place the cards into the correct columns, and then practice writing & saying the large numbers.

To make a more durable version, create the cards on the computer, print them on coloured paper and then laminate.



Beat the Teacher – A Place Value Game


Students draw up a playing grid like the one pictured. You can get them to draw up more or less columns, depending on how big of a number you would like them to practice.

The teacher takes out all of the picture cards from a deck of cards & then shuffles the remaining cards.

The teacher then flips over one card at a time & calls it out. If the teacher flips a 10 that will be called out as a ‘0’.

Students write the number called out in one of the columns. They need to decide where the best place it should go. The teacher will also do the same but without letting the students see.

The teacher will continue drawing cards until all of the columns are filled out. The students and the teacher call out their final number.

If the student has a higher number than the teacher they receive 5 points. If it is the same, 3 points. If it is less, 0 points.
If the teacher gets a higher number than all of the students then they receive 20 points!

You can play as many rounds as you would like.