Relief Teaching Ideas

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

1 Comment

Keeping Track of Books You Have Read

Relief Teacher Tip

I keep a post it note in the inside cover of the books that I read to classes. I record which classes I’ve read the book to & which ones I’ve done an activity with the book too.

It’s an easy way to keep track of which classes you’ve done what with!

I also have a checklist of activities and classes, that I keep in my folder. The post it notes are just a quick way to check when I’m choosing books to pack for the day!


Leave a comment

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

What a delightful, whimsical book!

The Leaf Man uses the shapes and colours of different leaves as inspiration for its illustrations. The story explores where the mythical ‘Leaf Man’ goes, whenever the wind blows.


This gorgeous book was brought to my attention when I posted these photos of leaf creatures on my Facebook page.

Pictures & craft ideas found here:
and here:

One of our members mentioned that they had read The Leaf Man to their class and then used it as inspiration to create similar pictures. I ordered the book soon after!

I think it would make a lovely afternoon of reading, collecting leaves and then creating leaf creatures of their own. Students could also use their pictures as a writing prompt for a story or poem.

I will post photos of some leaf creatures that I have made soon!


Rainbow Squiggle Line Drawing

By Emma Hessel

When I saw this idea on Relief Teaching Ideas, I just had to try it in the art room! The beauty of this activity is that it’s adaptable to most year levels. I’ve delivered this lesson to students between year 1 and 6 with success. The younger years may not be able to achieve quite the same impact as years 5 or 6, but they sure give it a red hot go!
I start this lesson by telling the children we will be doing a line drawing, and show them my own drawing I had prepared earlier. Their faces light up as they take in the psychedelic colours and patterns produced by a simple squiggle!

Students only need an A4 piece of paper and a marker to draw their squiggle, followed by twistable crayons or pencils for the colouring.

I demonstrate the technique on the board, drawing a squiggle with lots of “loop the loops” and intersecting lines. I explain that they need to make sure most of the page is covered by the squiggle, and they can add in extra squiggly lines to break up any large white spaces. This will make it easier to colour in the individual sections. On the other hand they don’t want TOO many squiggles, as they will need areas large enough to fill with several colours.

I demonstrate the colouring techniques for students on the board. First I show them how to colour from the outside of a section, working inwards, using rainbow colours. I suggest they colour in a strip of about 1cm width, colouring in a perpendicular angle to the line of marker (not parallel). This helps achieve the blended look between the colours.


Another technique they can use is to colour in rainbow stripes across more narrow sections, where colouring around the edges would otherwise result in a monotonous section of just one or two colours.

I remind them to choose different colours to start colouring the edges of each section, to give the finished artwork more contrast. This will also give them sections filled with different groups of colours, which looks great when it’s finished.
This lesson has been a real winner, and I love seeing the diverse range of creations the students come up with!

This guest post was written by Emma Hessel. Emma has been a wonderful supporter of our page. She regularly contributes ideas & inspirational photos on our Facebook group. I was excited when she agreed to write about one of her successful art lessons.
A big thank you to Emma for sharing this project with all of us!


Leave a comment

Casual Relief Teaching Helpful Tips, Forms & Checklists

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I’ve just uploaded a new product to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store – ‘Casual Relief Teaching – Tips, Helpful Forms & Checklists’.

These forms and checklists are all resources that I have used myself, and I find them really helpful in keeping me organised. I hope that you find them just as useful!

1 Comment

Behaviour Management

Behaviour Management is a popular topic on our Facebook page. Students often act out when their usual teacher is away for the day.

Here are some follower questions & the responses from other followers:

Jennifer asks: “Hi all, does anyone have any behaviour management strategies for a 5/6 class? I feel like I’ve tried everything but they’re just not working. I’ve kept them in at lunch, taken privileges away, tried to isolate them from other children, told them I’d be speaking to their class teacher and the deputy, but they refuse to listen. Today I sent one of them to another class, which I don’t usually like to do because I don’t want to involve other teachers, and asked him to fill out a behaviour reflection sheet. But we’ll have to see how that goes. Some of them just aren’t giving me the respect they should be. This is my first year out and I have been told I have a baby face so I’m thinking they are behaving this way because they don’t see me as an adult. Please help!”
Click here for the responses

Callie asks: “What behaviour management techniques are other relief teachers using? I had a terrible day relieving today & it got me thinking about needing more techniques.”
Click here for the responses

Sally asks: “Kids seem to be so immune to swearing now and I have heard everything from the s-word to the f-word from all ages either purposefully said or accidentally slipped out during sport, from mostly boys. Today I was particularly shocked because it was the first time I heard a kindy boy say f***. I was just wondering what consequences people out there present to these kids or tips with how to deal with inappropriate language as I feel a simple “talking to” has no real effect. Kids obviously just repeat what they hear at home but shouldn’t be saying it at school especially in kindy right?!”
Click here for the responses

Mary asks: “Teaching a year 6/7 class next week, as a relief teacher. Any teaching suggestions and behaviour management strategies? (feeling a little out of my comfort zone) I want to be the best teacher I can be and have a fun, productive day of learning~ thank you”
Click here for the responses

Mary asked:”I have a question for your page: When relieving in a tough 10 – 12 year old class in which the kids tell you they have no ‘respect’ for you as their ‘reliever’ and you don’t know their names or personalities, what is the best way to get them quiet and focused, especially at mat time (assuming the teacher has left the work so there isn’t a choice of activity to do). Does anyone have any hints or tips to use with older kids?”

Mila – Tell your stage supervisor. If they don’t listen, keep them all in at recess/lunch until they do.

Heath – Bring a prize box with you. If the kids want in they have to write their names on a nameplate made out of a4 paper. Keep your lesson design as fun and inclusive as possible. Bottom line is you can’t expect respect because of your age and position you have to earn it first.

Relief Teaching Ideas – I’ve taught some very tricky year 7 classes before! Not fun! Try to start the day positive. Tell them how much you’re looking forward to being in their class, let them know some of the fun activities you have planned (squeeze in a fitness or quick classroom game sometime during the day) but then also clearly & firmly tell them what will happen if they act out & don’t follow the rules – state your basic rules & consequences. I would usually give them a warning, move them in the class & then remove to a buddy class (see if you can organize a neighboring classroom to use). At least one student will probably test you to see if you mean what you say! It’s important to follow through.
I’ve also heard that class dojo is a fantastic free behavior tool in the classroom.
You can hand out points to students & can collect the data & leave for the teacher. You can give a certificate or small prize (pencil, eraser, notebook) to students who reach a certain amount of points.

Ashna – Use some sort of reward system eg: points system for the day and have a reward for the highest scoring boy and girl. Or do a class team points system and if they get to say 100 by the end of the day they can have 10-15 mins of free time or extra sport etc.

Ashna – I use class dojo too and it’s great!

Belinda – In the past I have called the office. They have sent the principal and the class has gotten in trouble. The office staff are big on not letting the school down just cos it is a different teacher. After they have had a talking to by someone they know, they are generally better

Annette – Definitely call the office to let them know what is happening. Make a note for yourself in case you get this class again in the future. Try and ask what behaviour system is in place before class starts. Table points, house points and so on. Remember that respect is a two way street and they have to earn yours as well

Relief Teaching Ideas – One of the first things I do, going into a new room, is draw up a quick seating chart & walk around recording where each student sits (use name plates, pencil cases that are sitting on the desks). During roll call I double check that my seating chart is correct. Try to use their names as much as possible in the first lesson & you’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn the names!

Belinda – I should have mentioned that I follow the class system of warnings, timeout, buddy class. However there are some cases where you have to jump all of the other steps and go straight to the office.

Relief Teaching Ideas – Another tip (although this can sometimes be hard to do!!) is to avoid being baited. Some students will try to push your buttons to see how far they can push you. They want to upset you & make you angry/yell. Try to stay calm, stick to the behaviour plan. If they won’t listen & move seats or go to the office, don’t get into an argument, just phone the office. The other kids will quickly see that there is no point in trying to play that game. Win for you! (Even if you’re secretly seething inside!)

Misel – Say ‘You don’t need to like it, or love it- but you will need to find a way to live with it for today’
‘Can be an easy day for you- by following my instructions, or a hard day- missing out on the fun stuff (games, recess, lunch)- choose’

Tanya – Before school I do a seating plan of where the desks are and who is sitting in it. I can usually get most names off chair bags, pencil cases or books they’ve left on desks; otherwise I fill in the blanks when I mark the roll (or an eager helper during class set-up) – it spooks them when you refer to them by name. I then run them through the rewards system I have (raffle tickets and a prize box) and then the consequences. Don’t be afraid to keep them in or call the office for help, especially when starting out at a new school. Once you’re established, you’ll find problems become minimal.

Cassy – This goes against most teaching practises however I found having kids copy notes off the board kept the kids quiet and focused. Find out what the science or HSIE topic is, then have the kids copy information down. Discuss it with the class and follow-up with an art lesson. Students are often scared of looking stupid, some feel less threaten just writing information.

Misel – You’re the boss- you don’t need other teachers they ‘know’ to plead with them to be ‘good’ – they’ll have more respect for you If a) they know you’ll be consistent b) you’ll follow through

Amanda – Buy some king size chocolate bars and a book of raffle tickets! Let them know that at the end of the day you will drawing a ticket, winner takes all! To gain entry to the raffle they need to be on task, respectful etc. each time you see this hand out a ticket….the more on task etc the more tickets, the greater chance they have to win…..this has won over many a difficult class…..the power of king size chocolate on pre-teens is amazing!!! Appeal to their greed!! You can also have a couple of draws winner gets first choice!

Anna – I find using a kitchen timer works really well, that way kids know how much time they have left to complete tasks and make an agreement at start of the time whatever time you have to wait for the when the timer goes off is the time they have to make up to you in there time (lunch, interval or after school). I had tricky year 6 clases last 3 days this worked awesome because they could hear the timer from anywhere in class and stopped and looked at me when it went off.. Also a good way not to lose your voice 🙂

Michelle – I just calmly let them know that whilst they think they can get away with bad behaviour, that all their behaviours are reported back to their teacher to deal with ;). It’s amazing how quickly they shape up!

Lisa – I always draw a clock on the board at the start of the day. Sometimes I tell them what it’s for, sometimes not till they ask. I add strokes around the outside for minutes the class or individuals have kept me waiting etc, I don’t always comment when I do it either but they VERY quickly learn that those minutes will need to be earned off at recess/lunch/home time. They piece this together and beg to earn minutes off for good behaviour too, which is a positive reward system for you. Works every time!

Alisha – Time them and make them give that time back to you at recess and/or lunch.
Give them an explicit run down of the rules and tell them exactly what will happen if they are good or bad.

Nadine – A student telling you they don’t respect you because you are a relief teacher isn’t such a bad thing as it is a great lead into a discussion about respect. You can agree by discussing how it can be hard to respect people when you don’t know them; talk about what respect is; make it clear that you are going to model respect by your actions towards them as students; ask them how it feels when they are treated in a disrespectful manner. One of my fav sayings is, “Every action has a reaction”. I write this on the board and talk about what it means with the students. I also play class ball games that encourage students to use their strengths to beat their own times passing the ball to all members of the class.

Annette – I do something similar. I draw a detailed face on the whiteboard and when they get disruptive I take one feature away. I do tell them they can earn features back bad if the whole face is still there by the end of the day they earn a quick 5-10 minute game. It’s amazing how the whole class will be grumpy at those that ‘lose face’!

Jess – I use the raffle, rewards bag, adding minutes to keep them in and games or fitness, but am always looking for new ideas.

Marcella – I draw 5 stars on the board at the start of the day. They automatically get free time at the end of the session if they can keep those starts. It’s amazing how quickly they will settle if they see you moving to the board to wipe off a star. I also sometimes add stars so if they end up with 10 they get double the free time

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Angry Birds Anger Management Lesson


What a great health lesson from “The Home Teacher”!

She has made FREE printable posters & a student work booklet to help children understand their anger and learn some appropriate strategies to deal with it.



The booklet helps students to identify what anger looks & feels like, goes through what you shouldn’t do when you’re angry & gives strategies to help them calm down when angry.

A great resource to aid in classroom discussions about feelings & appropriate behaviors!


For further information & to download the printables, click on the links below.

Link to article & printables:

Her original post about each of the angry birds and their role in helping kids understand and deal with their anger:

Leave a comment

Beanbag Scavenger Hunt


As many cones as you can find!
Beanbags (15-20)

– Try to set up without students watching you (send them for a warm up run around the oval!)
– Place cones scattered on playing field/court.
– Hide beanbags under the cones (you will need more cones than beanbags).
– Split class into groups of 3 or 4.
– Groups line up along the edge of playing field.
– One person from each team will run out onto playing field & choose a cone to look under. If there is a beanbag they take it back to their team & tag the next player to run to a cone.
– If there’s not a beanbag under the cone they return to their team & the whole team has to do 5 jumping jacks (this is optional – you can decide if you want them to do this) & then the next player in line can run out to choose a cone to look under.
– Game ends once all beanbags are found. Team with the most beanbags wins.


Leave a comment

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…

Leave a comment

FREE Shoe Printable Craft


Print off on card for students to decorate & colour. Use wool or string to lace up.

If you have a junior class see if you can buddy up with an older class so they can help the little ones lace & practice tying up the shoes.

You can find the original source & printable here: