Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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Simon Says Draw!

This is a great listening & giving instructions activity. It’s also a bit of fun. 🙂
Without letting the students see your work, draw and call out instructions for them to copy. Try to make some instructions more specific than others. Also throw in a few instructions that don’t begin with ‘Simon Says’ to see how carefully the students are listening!

Eg – Simon says draw a large blue rectangle
– Simon Says to draw eyes towards the top of the rectangle
– Draw a yellow oval in the bottom right hand corner of the rectangle
– Simon says to draw orange spikes coming out from the top of the rectangle
– Simon says to draw a green triangle in the centre of the rectangle

When you’ve finished your drawing get everyone to reveal their pictures.


Who had the same picture?
Who didn’t?
Discuss which instructions were the easier or hardest to follow & why.

This can also be done as a partner barrier game or in small groups.

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Reading Across the Universe – Book Report

This year’s Book Week theme is ‘Reading Across the Universe.’

Here is a rocket themed book report outline that you can print & photocopy for your students.

I recommend enlarging to A3 size because the rocket is on the small size! You can also cut the rocket out, add some cellophane or steamers to the bottom to make flames & then create a bulletin board display with stars, the moon & planets! The stars could be book recommendations students write for their peers.

I have made two basic outlines. One with lines that could be used for ‘beginning, middle & end’ summaries or to write about the setting, characters, problem & resolution of a story. The other I have left blank spaces for students to simply draw and label characters, setting & a favourite part of the story.

rocket book report


rocket book report junior




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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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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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Making Reading Connections

Have I mentioned my love for Post-its yet? Love them and so do kids! They can be a great motivational tool in the classroom. Here’s a way you can use them to make sure students are engaged during silent reading time.

During silent reading time hand students post-it notes. Explain that reading is thinking & good readers make connections with what they are reading.

While they read they need to jot down either:
– text to text connections (this reminds me of a book or character called…… because …..)
– text to self connections they can make (something similar happened to me…I know someone who reminds of…I have a dog just like….)

At the end of silent reading time they can share with the rest of the class any connections they made with their books.

You can leave this chart up in your room for students to continually add to it throughout the term.


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Ouch! Stories


Using bandaids as a writing prompt…

Kids love to talk about skinned knees, bruises, stitches & broken bones. They also love bandaids -I’m not sure why!

Have students write about a time that they hurt themselves.
– Where were they?
– What were they doing?
– How did they get hurt?
– What were their injuries?
– Who helped them?

Hand out an assortment of bandaids. You can get all sorts of colours, shapes, even patterned bandaids now! The students can use the bandaids to help illustrate what happened.

I originally saw this bandaid picture on Pinterest but unfortunately there was no link to share. If anyone knows the original source please let me know & I will link back to them.

This writing activity lends itself well to discussions about people in our community who can help us when we get hurt. You can also discuss with the class what they should do if they get hurt or if they see someone get hurt.

Books that I think would also match up with this activity include:

“Boo Hoo Bird” by Jeremy Tankard
“Ouch! I Need a Plaster” by Nick Sharratt
“Charlie is Broken”
“Ouch!”by Ragnhild Scamell
“Ouch! Jack & Jill” by Sharon Coan


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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.