Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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Roll a 6!

Did you ever play the Chocolate Game? It was a very popular birthday party game when I was at primary school. You would take turns rolling a die. If you rolled a 6 you would dress up in a silly costume & then use a knife & fork to cut & eat from a block of chocolate. It was a noisy, fast paced game, and we all loved it!

This is NOT that game but reminds me a little of it.

Roll a 6!


Each group will need:
– 1 piece of paper
– 1 die
– 1 pencil

How to Play

– Divide class into groups of 4 or 5
– Hand out equipment needed
– Students sit in a circle
– Students take turns rolling the die
– If they roll a 6 they start writing the numbers 1 – 100 on the piece of paper.
– When someone else rolls a 6 they take over the writing of the number, from wherever the previous person finished.
For example: Student A writes 1 – 12, Student B rolls a 6 so takes over & starts writing 13, 14, 15, etc…until the next person rolls a 6, and so on & on.
– The winner is the student who writes the number 100!


– Instead of rolling a 6, students need to roll a 1 (or any other number you choose)
– Have students write/count by 2s or 5s, instead of 1s
– Have students roll 2 dice. The dice have to add up to 10 for them to start writing (or any other +, – or x that you would like!)

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Who Stole the Cookie?

Fun Circle Game! “Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?”

I used to love playing this when I was at school.

– Have a set of cards made up – all are blank except for one that has a cookie drawn or printed on it.
– Have students sit in a circle & hand out cards, face down, so no one knows who has the cookie card.
– Get the kids to start a beat by clapping their hands & then their legs (hands, legs, hands, legs). Once in unison start the song…

“Teacher: Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
Lisa took the cookie from the cookie jar.

Lisa: Who me? (She will turn her card over, it’s blank)

Class: Yes you.

Lisa: Couldn’t be.

Class: Then who took the cookie from the cookie jar?

Lisa: Johnny took the cookie from the cookie jar.

Johnny: Who me? (Checks card & discovers he has the cookie*)

Class: Yes you.

Johnny: Yes! I took the cookie from the cookie jar!

*Keep the song going until the person who has the cookie card is revealed!


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Math Warm Up Game

Here’s a super short post about a quick little maths game. I like it because it gets kids moving around, while practicing basic math facts!
I find it works best for years 1-3 but I’ve even played it with some year 6’s who thought it was a bit of fun! I guess it depends on the class you have!

Here’s how you play:
– Have students move around/dance to music.
– When the music stops, call out a question (like 3 + 4 or 10 – 5).
– Students need to work out the answer & then touch the ground with that many body parts (e.g. 3 + 4 = 7… Place down 2 feet & 5 fingers or 2 feet, 1 elbow & 4 fingers)
– Have students call out the answer & then start the music again for the next round.

See what happens when you say 5 – 5 or 0 + 0!!!

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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!

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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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Pac Man

This is a simple game to revise facts. It can be used for any subject & doesn’t require any equipment!

1. Students spread around the room.
2. Teacher calls out a question.
3. Students put their hands up if they know the answer.
4. The first hand up to get it right moves one step closer to the nearest person standing next to them (or they can move away from someone!)
The goal is to tap the others on the shoulder and get them out of the game.
5.Teacher continues to call out questions.
6. The last person standing wins.

Some ideas for this game:
– times tables
– math facts
– spelling
– vocabulary definitions
– geography questions
– foreign language practice (eg: say the word in English, who knows how to say it in Japanese?)
– revision of a health, science or social studies unit

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Shower Curtain Game Board

I love using plastic curtains or tablecloths in the classroom because they are so easy to set up, move around & store! I’ve used them for bulletin boards, to section off areas like a reading corner, to cover tables for messy work & also to make giant game boards.

Game boards can be easily folded up & stored away in your relief teaching bag!

To make the game board:
– Buy a cheap, light coloured shower curtain. This one was only $5 from The Reject Shop.
– Draw a 7×4 grid with a thick black marker. I just followed the fold lines, I didn’t use a ruler.
– Cut clear, plastic sleeve protectors in half.
– Tape the plastic sleeves in each rectangle.
– Cut A4 sized paper in half & write your review questions, math problems or sight words on the bits of paper.
– Place them in the plastic sleeves.

To play:
– Have a container of counters by the game mat.
– Students take turns throwing or rolling a counter onto the grid.
– Whichever square it lands on they need to answer the question (if it’s a sight word they need to read it or put it into a sentence).
– If they get it correct they get to keep the counter. If they get it wrong the counter stays in that square.
– If a player gets a question correct they get to keep their counter plus any other counters that have been left in that square.
– Students count up how many counters they have at the end of the game. Whoever has the most counters wins!

– Colour code the cards (these can be in rows or all mixed up.)
Green = easy question = 1 point
Yellow = medium question = 2 points
Red = hard question = 3 points

– Divide class either in half or into 3 groups. Have the groups line up in front of the grid.
– Students take turns throwing a beanbag onto the grid. They answer the question & if they get it correct they get the corresponding amount of points for their team. Keep a tally on the whiteboard. If they don’t get the question correct they don’t get any points.
-Once everyone has gone through two or three times, tally up the points. The team with the highest score wins!


These are so versatile! I’ve only listed two ideas but you could do so much more. It’s up to you how you want to play & what skills you want your students to practice.

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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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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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Heads or Tails – Partner Game


*Each pair will need a game board & 3 coins. Alternatively they could use 1 coin & 2 different coloured counters.

To start the game, each player places a coin on the star of the snake. The heads player places the coin heads side up. The tails player places the coin tails side up.

The heads player tosses a coin. If it is heads, they move the coin one space toward the head of the snake. If it is tails, they don’t move but the tails player moves their coin one space toward the tail.

Next, the tails player tosses a coin. If it is tails, they move their coin one space toward the tail of the snake. If it is heads, they don’t move but the heads player moves their coin one space toward the head of the snake.

Play continues back and forth until one of the players reaches either the head or the tail of the snake, winning the game.

Link to this Mathwire free printable game can be found here:

Click to access headsandtails.pdf