Relief Teaching Ideas

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


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Concertina Changing Pictures

I love an activity that only requires basic materials like A4 paper, pencils, rulers, scissors and glue.
These concertina pictures are a perfect example of how simple materials can create great results.

When you look at them straight on the pictures are mixed up. When you look from either side a different picture is revealed!

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They can be a bit fiddly to piece together so I would recommend this activity for years 4 and up. Some year 3 classes may be okay to do this too.

Here are a few ideas for pictures:
– showing changes in seasons
– as a follow up to reading the book ‘My Place’ by Nadia Wheatley, showing a house or scene changed over time
– a dormant and active volcano
– a face showing two different emotions
– a clean and polluted environment
– sunrise and day time
– night and day
– a person aging

To create a picture you will need two A4 pieces of paper (one cut in half), scissors, glue, ruler, and markers & pencils.

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Draw a picture on one of the pieces of paper you have cut in half. I have found that simple pictures often work the best. I have also found that it is easier to go over your drawing in black marker so that it is easy to trace over the design onto the other piece of paper.

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Trace whatever shape or picture you want to be the same on both pictures.

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Draw both of your pictures.

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Flip the pictures over and use a ruler to mark out and draw even vertical strips. Mine were 2.5cm wide. Label one page with numbers (I had 1-6) and the other with letters (I had A-F).

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On the other piece of paper (the full A4 sized piece) mark out lines the same size as the ones you did on the back of the pictures.
IMPORTANT: Label these from RIGHT to LEFT (opposite to how you would normally), alternating numbers & letters. In my picture they read – 6, F, 5, E, 4, D, 3, C, 2, B, 1, A
Cut out the strips on the pictures. Make sure to try to cut as straight as you can!

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Glue the strips down onto the A4 paper, matching up the correct numbers and letters.

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Fold the paper concertina style.

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Open up to reveal the pictures! You can also glue or staple the end pieces to a piece of paper or card to make it easier to display on a wall.

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Let me know if if you give these pictures a try or if you have any other ideas of how to use them!


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Classroom Photos

I used to love setting up my room at the beginning of the year; I was refreshed after holidays, full of new ideas, and ready for a new school year!
I would scour the Internet, looking for inspiration to turn my classroom into a place that both the students & I would love to spend our days in. A classroom that was colourful, without being too zany, a classroom that showcased the students’ work, and also inspired them, and a classroom that was organised and made sense to everyone who worked in it.
Before Pinterest I used to print off classroom photos I found on the Internet & make up a folder of things I wanted to try. Now it’s so much easier with Pinterest. I’ve become slightly obsessed with clicking that little red ‘pin it’ button!
While searching for photos I did notice that there weren’t a huge amount of Australian classrooms represented. I was planning on posting some photos from my own collection (I used to take photos of all my classroom displays), however I’ve been searching for them for the past few weeks and don’t know where my album is! It seems to have vanished when we moved house last year. If I come across my photos I’ll add them to this post.
In the meantime I put a call out on my Facebook page, asking anyone who was interested to email me photos of their classrooms.
Here are the photos I have already received:

First we have Aymie’s bright and colourful room. Aymie is a graduate teacher who is working in a Catholic school in Brisbane. I love how she has used the rug and the ABC giant jigsaw to mark out her mat areas. I also like how she has displayed her books facing out in her reading corner, and the material she has draped on the ceiling. She’s made it look so inviting!
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Next is Emily’s reading corner, based on Dr Seuss’ ‘Cat in the Hat’. What an amazing little corner she has created here! There’s so much I love about it; the cushions, the quote on the wall, the different levelled blocks to sit on, the turning book stand, the truffula trees, the round window! All great!
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Marni transformed these old, daggy bookshelves into bright & cheerful additions to her classroom. I would love these in my book corner!
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This is Annette’s birthday wall display for her year 1 class. I love how she has used ribbon to create a cupcake stand for the cupcake months to be arranged on!
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Rhiahn sent these photos in of her classroom’s transformation from storage space to fun & inviting kindy room!
It started like this…
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Slowly being transformed…
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Adding some colourful charts to the walls…
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I love the ‘Under the Sea’ theme she’s chosen to decorate her room. The material draped across the ceiling to look like waves is an eye catching idea. Since taking this photo, she’s also thrown some shells up onto the fabric…
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She is planning on adding photos of her students to the flowers in this display…
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Names of students will be put on these envelopes so when they do any work they will go to their name pocket and grab an already printed name tag! She will move names around the poster too so students have to look for their name. Great idea!
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Reading/quiet area to the left and morning circle time to the right!
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Home corner area…
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Work area…
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Another ocean themed room! This time it’s Desiree’s year 2 room. She has painted this fantastic mural to add colour to her classroom wall. I’m sure her students will love it!
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Katie sent in her photos of her home office. She is a Social Science high school teacher and until she gets a contract she will be relief teaching. She was unable to stick anything to the walls so instead hung some of her posters from string strung up between the bookshelves. To make her pin up board more interesting she covered it with a fun printed material she found at IKEA. Love it! She says she still needs to hang her notice board & add a few more things but I think it’s already looking like a neat, well organised, light filled place to work!
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Bel sent in this photo of how she has organised all of her relief teaching resources in the boot of her car.
She has two suspension filing boxes with activities sorted into stages and KLAs, a wicker basket of books she can read and another with resource books, and a big red plastic basket filled with art activities.
You can’t see them in the picture, but she also has a little red container with laminated fast finisher activities and another with laminated game ideas for both in the classroom and outside.
I love how organised & prepared she is!
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Next we have Lynne giving us a classroom tour of her year 3/4 room…
Hi Lynne!
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This comfy looking chair was a gift from a wonderful school family.
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This is the front of her room. As an aide for 17 years and now a qualified teacher she has seen many rooms. She says that she particularly thinks about setting up students with ASD for success. That means to keep things nice and ordered, have clear direction and include lots of visuals. Every child benefits from this approach!
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This is a close up of her visual timetable that she has on her smaller whiteboard.
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Her theme is ‘Doing Your Best…You Are Already Superstars!’
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This area will be used to display the students’ work. She wants the students to feel excited and proud of their work so she designed a wall that has a showcase theme. This will also fit in with the celebrations unit they will be doing. The wall is 9 metres wide, with a 3 metre drop. It was covered in a white fabric first & then black pleats were arranged across the top and pretend curtains on the side. The whole wall only cost $55 to cover because she went to a fabric wholesale factory. Clever thinking!
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Even the bin area is designed around learning – reuse/recycle, sustainability and the global effect of our choices.
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Finally, we have the lovely Rebecca from ‘Musical Experiences for Children’ who posted a link to an album of photos from when she taught kindy. She has so many inspiring early childhood ideas. Check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.766188130066289.1073741855.558725680812536&type=1

Thank you to everyone who sent their photos in! If you would like to add your photos to this collection, please email them to reliefteachingideas@hotmail.com


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What is the Question?

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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!


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Peggy by Anna Walker – Book Activity

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Peggy by Anna Walker (nominated for Early Childhood Book of the Year) is about a chicken named Peggy. A big gust of wind picks her up and blows her from her quiet street to the big city of Melbourne. She faces her fears & explores the busy city, seeing many new & exciting things, eventually finding her way home.
After reading the book, flip through the book again & make a list with the students of all the things she saw and did on her adventure. Show the students how to write a diary entry (Dear diary….). Have students write a diary entry as if they were Peggy – describe what they saw & how they felt. They can then illustrate some of the highlights of Peggy’s adventure.


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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:

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Charlotte’s Web:

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Times Table Facts:

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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.

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2. Open up the piece of paper & fold over the other corner to make a triangle. Open up again to reveal these creases.

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3. Fold each corner into the centre.

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4. Turn the paper over and then fold the corners into the centre again.

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5. Cut down the centre of each of the 4 triangle flaps, to create 8 smaller flaps.

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6. Flatten all the flaps down and fold the paper in half.

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7. Place your thumbs and forefingers in the four openings. Push open and then in towards the centre to manipulate into shape.

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8. Flatten again, to write out facts or questions.

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Done! And ready to play!

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For some more ideas & free printable chatterboxes you can also check out this fantastic page:
http://www.teachjunkie.com/holidays/winter/christmas/17-quick-cootie-catcher-printables-lesson-plans/


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Recycling Bread Tags

We’ve been collecting bread tags for colour sorting & craft (we’re big on recycling/reusing.) It didn’t take long to build up quite a collection!

My little boy loves sorting through them, lining them up & putting them into little containers, shaking them up!

As we were playing with them on the weekend, I started thinking of other ways to use them, especially in the classroom…

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– Clip onto popsticks for sight word or place value practice
– Thread onto pipe cleaners to make a counting bracelet
– Create funny faces or creatures

I just used permanent markers to write on the tags. Super simple & easy to do!

Does anyone else have an interesting way to reuse bread tags?


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Shower Curtain Game Board

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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!

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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.

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To play:
GAME ONE
– 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!

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GAME TWO
– 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!

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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.