Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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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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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!


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!


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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!



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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:


Rotational Symmetry Names

Rotational Symmetry – the shape or image can be rotated and it still looks the same.

In this activity students create a picture that has rotational symmetry, using their name as their starting point.
It is a great activity to add to your relief teacher folder because it does not require any photocopying. The only materials needed are white paper & textas or coloured pencils to decorate.

Trim an A4 or A3 piece of paper to make a square. I folded one corner over to make a triangle & then trimmed off the extra bit on the end. When I opened up the triangle, a square was left.

Fold the piece of paper in half to make a rectangle.

Fold it in half again, to make a square.

Fold over one corner to make a triangle.

With lead pencil, write your name in block or bubble writing. When you are happy with it you can go over it with a black texta.


Unfold one of the triangles . Hold it up to the light or up on a window so you can see & trace the original name you drew. I drew my picture at night so I had to hold my paper up to a light. Very tricky! I used a pencil first, just in case i slipped!
Continue unfolding and tracing until you have completed all 8 triangles.
If you have miras available to use, that would make this step a lot easier! A Mira is a geometric tool that is reflective like a mirror but is also transparent, making it easy to see & copy down symmetrical pictures.




Add colour to your design. Make sure you colour each section of the triangles exactly the same!



All done! These look fantastic displayed on a classroom wall or used as a cover picture for student workbooks.

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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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Paper Elephant Craft

“Too Many Elephants in This House” CLEVER CRAFT

The Children’s Book Council of Australia will be announcing the Books of the Year next month.
On the Early Childhood shortlist is the fun picture book “Too Many Elephants in This House” by Ursula Dubosarsky & Andrew Joyner.

You can view the book here:

While searching for an elephant craft to go with this book I found this YouTube clip (link below) of a super cute elephant craft. You only need paper, glue, scissors & either googly eyes or a black texta to draw eyes.
Love it!


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!


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!