Relief Teaching Ideas

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


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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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.



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!

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Word Race


-Divide students into 3 or 4 teams (depending on how big your whiteboard is) & line them up in front of the white board.
-Write one word on the board for each team.
-One person from each team will go to the board to write a word that starts with the last letter of your word.
-The next person in their team then has to think of a word that starts with the last letter of the word their team member wrote.
-Students continue taking turns writing words on the board until you stop the game.
-You can stop when groups start running out of space to write or after a set amount of time.
-Add up each team’s points.
1-3 Letters = 1 point
4-5 Letters = 2 points
6+ Letters = 3 points
(Words that have been repeated or are incorrect do not count.)
-The team with the most points wins.

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Acrostic Booklets


My little boy loves trucks (especially rubbish trucks) & lift the flap books. I thought I would combine the two & made some acrostic poem booklets.

A little disclaimer….I am in no way a very good drawer! So be kind as I share the examples I made. 🙂

First I cut the A4 paper into strips & then made each strip evenly shorter than the next. You will need 1 extra piece to put at the back for the last letter’s line & picture.

I then stapled the pages together to make a booklet.

I wrote the word I was writing the acrostic poem about on the front – 1 letter per flap.

I wrote each line of the poem under the corresponding letter & then illustrated.


Continue until all pages are complete!


Hope this all makes sense! I think this would make a great activity with a class. Kids love writing acrostic poetry & this is a different way of presenting it. I did find that I was limited to smaller words, using an A4 piece of paper. For larger words I would either use a larger piece of paper or cut the A4 into thinner strips.

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Wacky Web Tales


An interactive, online, build a story resource; asks students to use parts of speech (adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc..) to fill in the blanks.

You could use this on a Smartboard or Data Projector as a whole class activity before or after a writing or grammar lesson.

*Tip – Do up a practice story beforehand & print out for your own reference so you can guide the class in the right direction. This avoids any possible inappropriate phrases!!

Here is the link…


Jigsaw Pairs

zzjigsaw picture

There are so many things you could do with these! Here’s a few ideas:
– lower case/upper case letter matching
– sight words
– antonyms
– synonyms
– math sums
– shape names & pictures
– analogue/digital time
– subject area questions & answers

I’ve also handed out blank sheets of these to older kids to make up their own revision questions before a test. After writing the questions & answers on the pairs they cut them out, put the pieces into an envelope & swapped with another student to complete.

When making your own puzzles you can either add your own print using text boxes, print onto card & then cut out OR print them off blank & laminate so they can be changed to suit your needs. If you need more than 14 pairs you can print another sheet on different coloured card.

You could probably find some better quality jigsaw pairs than these ones I made using just Paint! But you are more than welcome to print them off onto some card & use if you would like to. 🙂

Click here to download & print:



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Secret Code Spelling


You could use this free downloadable sheet to write a secret message on the whiteboard. Using the sheet, which student can decipher it first?
Have students write out their own words or messages for others to decipher.
Students can also create their own secret codes with different symbols.