Relief Teaching Ideas

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

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The Black Book of Colours

The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin is the most unique picture book I’ve come across.

Unlike traditional picture books about colours, this book invites readers to imagine colours through the perspective of a blind person, using a person’s senses to describe each colour, rather than using bright, colourful pictures.
“Red is sour like unripe strawberries and as sweet as watermelon. It hurts when he finds it on his scraped knee.”
All of the illustrations are black and raised on a black background, and the text is written in both English and Braille.
The descriptions of each colour are sweet and childlike, and you can’t help but to touch all of the beautifully designed illustrations and Braille on each page. There is even a full Braille alphabet on the back page for you and your students to have a look at and touch.



Kathy, one of the members of our Facebook community, recently posted some 5 senses poetry that her students wrote after reading the book. I hadn’t heard of the book before but as soon as I saw her post I was intrigued. I now have my own copy and look forward to using it in the classroom.
I’ve written 5 senses poetry before with classes but never with this book. I think that it will be a great source of inspiration for the students.
Here is an example of a ‘Senses Poem’ that I have written.
Before writing the poem have students brainstorm different things that the colour reminds them of:

They can then brainstorm different describing words for each and choose which ones they would like to include in their poem.

This is just one idea for this book. There are so many more learning opportunities.

Students could:
– Discuss how we communicate ideas with each other.
– Investigate different forms of communication.
– Go outside, close their eyes for a few minutes. Record what they felt, heard & smelled.
– Imagine having to describe a simple household or school item to someone who had never seen it before. Write down how they would describe the item.
– Write their name or a simple message for a friend in Braille by pressing a pencil on the back of thin cardboard or by glueing small round beads onto card.
– Research Louis Braille and how he came up with the Braille alphabet.
– Choose a classroom item, hide it behind their backs & describe it to a partner to see if they can guess what it is.
– Create inference bags. Place a small item in a paper bag. On the front of the bag write 5 clues about what it is. Students rotate around the room, reading & recording what they think is in each bag.

For more teaching ideas based on this book, click here: