4 Things Teachers Can Do to Plan for a Substitute

Planning for a sub is a lot of work, y’all!  That’s why I am hardly EVER absent because it’s almost not even worth the amount of planning that you have to do for when you are out!  But, today I want to show you how I got things organized for my Emergency Sub Tub.  This is for those days when you absolutely can’t make it to work, and you can’t plan in advance. Here are some easy things teachers can do to help a substitute.

Add Review Charts Around the Room

First, I continue adding charts around the room that will help my kids remember the things we talk about without me having to remind them.  Today we made this chart…

Create Sub Rules for Students

After I saw this Sub Rules poster on Pinterest, I knew I had to make one, too!  Maybe, just maybe, it will help my sub out one day!

Make a Sub Tub

Thanks to Rachelle, putting together my Sub Tub was super easy and it turned out cute if Idosaysomyself!  This tub is placed right next to my classroom sink, and I have shown my coworkers where it is just in case it ever needs to be used!
 Here’s a little peek inside…
Behind each tab/divider, I have lessons with books and worksheets.
 I have the worksheets already copied so that they don’t have to worry about how to use the machines on campus.  I also put several options for each subject so that they can decide what they want to do with my class.
 When choosing worksheets, I tried to find ones that:
1.  My kids could do independently
2.  Would take enough time (so I included lots color by code ones)
3.  Were self explanatory

Draft a Detailed Sub Plan

After I organized all of my worksheets, class list, schedule, important info about my class, sub notes, etc., I put together a very detailed plan for the sub.  I tried to include everything that I could think of, and I made it general with the lesson plans.
You can view it {HERE}.  This isn’t meant to be reused, but a guide if you want to make something similar.  I have blacked-out students’ names 🙂
 Although it took me about 2-3 hours to compile everything I needed for my Emergency Sub Tub, I know it is well worth it. If I’m ever sick, I will be thankful that this is ready to go!  These are my go-to things that teachers can do to help substitutes, but I’m sure you can think of even more. Please share your ideas below! Now, I just have to tackle those long-term sub plans for when I go pick up my sweet daughter!

Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


Sample a day of Rooted in Reading with these lesson plans and activities for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar!

102 Responses

  1. I would love to use these with our Kinder special needs Autistic kids! They could use them to help with expressing needs by using a certain color of frog for certain needs! We could also use them for write the room! I found your blog and even though I teach Kinder it has been especially helpful!
    [email protected]

  2. Love these frogs and your page! I have taught first grade for so long, it was great to get ideas from you for teaching second grade. I would use the frog for our own word wall. it would be extra fun to use that during our writing/reading.

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  3. The puppets are precious! I'd use them with place value (goggling up the larger number). I love the sub tub and so excited about you picking up your sweet daughter and needing long term sub 🙂

    Fun in Room 4B

  4. I would use them to nip at non-workers…ummm I mean to kiss the little cheeks of those sweet little, hard-working pumpkins! (giggle!)

  5. He would help me sound out words (during blending)by looking at each letter and then whispering into my ear the correct sound. I would share his responses with the class. Of course, when he makes a mistake we will lovingly correct him.

  6. Goodness, I think the stick puppets would be great fun for lots of activities, but probably the most common uses I'd use them for is: with my big book station as “reading finger,” as a sort of a “talking stick” during class discussions, and to review our focus wall (sight words, robust vocabulary, spelling words, etc.)

    [email protected]

  7. I am moving from 5th grade to 2nd grade next week and I'm sure my new class of kids would love to use these cute guys to read the room during work stations or practice spelling words with partners.

    My name is: Kim
    my email is: [email protected]

  8. So many great uses!
    Word wall, point out
    vocab on Activboard.
    What about in drama activities
    or for fluency by
    “reading” in the
    voice of the puppet.
    Super cute and thanks
    for the great tips
    and freebies!
    My name is Kathy
    [email protected]

  9. Thanks for the sub tub ideas. That reminds me that I should get that organized now, just in case.

    I cannot believe how long your day is! 7:20-2:55. Holy cow! Only one recess connected with lunch. Wow. You poor thing!

    The word monster is adorable! I'd love to use that with my little guys during calendar time.

  10. As a new teacher I am always looking for ways to keep my kids focused and engaged. I could imagine these being used in so many ways..spelling, vocabulary, telling time, counting coins, writing stories/plays. The possibilties are endless!

    Kirby S.
    [email protected]

  11. I would love to use these when students have shared their writing – I have a stuffed fish that they pass to their friends who have comments or questions but I bet they would LOVE passing a monster 🙂

  12. Oh so many things I could use these for! I would definitely use them to model word wall words, role playing for various partner activities and morning meeting greetings and as a model for a “teach, okay” whole brain teaching technique I use frequently!

    [email protected]

  13. I would use him for the word wall, calendar time, and as an attention(instead of give me 5 I would raise him up) getter.

  14. Reviewing sight words with strange voices to get attention and laughs. Let the students use them when rereading familiar poems. I would love them dearly and treat them as a special member of the class. I would allow a special helper to use him and create their own voice when practicing words or reading texts.
    email is [email protected]

  15. Oh my! The possibilities are endless! We could use them when we read the word wall, add words to the word wall, stretch out words while I model writing during writer's workshop (right now we blow air into our hands and then stretch our hands apart like we have a piece of bubble gum between them), let the kids use them to stretch out words (anything THEY get to touch and use after modeled is always golden!), we could use them to discuss, model, and practice fluency as we read in the voice of the characters and with expression (they are like puppets!), and then, of course, we could use them as pointers, which the kids use as every day when they read big books and charts that we have created to each other. WOW! I'm pretty sure that was a horrible run on sentence! Please don't judge that! HA! 🙂
    [email protected]

  16. I would use it to get some of my shy kids to talk a little more… I have a few that would rather crawl under a table than read a blending word or put a word in a sentence…. Tis might help them!!

    And on a side note, I bought Rachelle's sub kit after having bronchitis last year and being SOOOO unprepared…. I worked on it a little bit this summer but didn't finish… This post was just the motivation that I needed to get it done!!

  17. It would be a little ironic – my monsters using monsters! 🙂 I would use them at a literacy centre – along with the word wall playing My Monster Spies (a version of I Spy). E.G. “My monster spies with his monster eyes a word that starts with m …”
    Hope I win! [email protected]

  18. I would use them for most of the things that others have mentioned. I also would use them as a substitute partner….even though it can not talk back it can listen to the odd man out share his or her ideas.

  19. These are adorable! As a reading teacher I would have the kids use these to find words on our word wall as well as pointing to the words on our lists of word families and short and vowel words. Thanks.
    [email protected]

  20. I love this!!! It would be great for my little ones that have a hard time opening up to point to words on my word wall or to find letters of the alphabet around my room or to point to rhyming words in the story! This is so cute!
    Crayons and Curls

  21. Love, Love, Love the puppets! I would have students use the puppets when they are doing “Read The Room” activities. I have bought the Substitute Survival Kit also, and it came in soooo handy last year when I called in sick with a virus.
    Thanks for sharing!
    [email protected]

  22. I would use these little guys for many literacy centre activities such as read around the room, I spy {the letter of the week or colour of the day}, during calendar time to point to months, numbers, days of the week, and the student of the day could use it to read the calendar and morning message as well as many more fun activities.
    grace2u {at} rogers {dot} com

  23. Amy,
    Love the monster stick puppets! There are so many ways that we could use these! If I were to have them in my classroom, I believe I could use them in my “scoop” the words word work station. The students would use it to scoop letters into the monster's mouth and then have to create words from the letters he “ate”. So my center could be called “Gobbling up words/letters”!

    [email protected]

  24. I would use these monsters for my word work center as well as for my hesitant/non-verbal speakers to encourage the monster to “speak”. It would work like puppets except they could point to the words or pictures they want to say or write.
    [email protected]

  25. Hi Amy,
    I would use this when I have out my shower curtain for center activities. It is on the ground and spelling/sight/vocabulary words are on it and the kids point and read the words. Words are written with a dry erase marker. I would love win and love all your ideas~!
    Delani Lemons
    [email protected]

  26. I love these little guys!! Would definately use them as pointers for locating sight words, vocab. Words, print concepts, and so much more. Great for share time too!!!

  27. How stinkin' cute! I would use these little monsters to point word wall words and our Cafe strategies. My room is all monster themed so these would be perfect!!!

  28. I have ESL students and these would be great for so many verbal activities. I have some students that are really hesitant to speak and this may help open them up if it's the “question monster” asking!

  29. I would use the monster stick puppets during whole group at the carpet. While here, I introduce spelling words of the week, or new sight words. We could also use the puppets to point out words on our word wall.


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  30. I would use these for comprehension during reading…for example, the monster can “chomp” when the student holding it hears the problem, solution, character, etc.
    I would also use it for during reading. Same premise… monster could “chomp” if they hear a word wall word or a specific blend.

    So cute!!
    [email protected]

  31. I would use these for practice with our phonics charts. Students could use the monsters to practice reading the words on our charts. When they add a new word to the chart, they can use the monsters to spell the word out!

    [email protected]

  32. Boy, there are so many ways that I could use this “little monsters”. Aside from the obvious spelling, word wall use, some of the things I would use them for would be for oral reports or to help those students who are very self conscious when standing up in front of the class – kind of their “voice” so to speak. I could use them as an arbitrator for kids when they are having a disagreement. I also have alot of high risk kids in my class that come from abusive families and families with limited resources. Getting some of these kids to open up is tough. These critters could be a secret friend to tell their secrets to. What a cute idea. I would love to know where I can get one for myself.
    Terri King [email protected]

  33. These would be so useful in my Level III classroom. My students could use these for a number of learning activities. We could use them for going over words from our word wall or using them as a visual to take away numbers or letters in word and number building activities. The uses are limitless really! I would LOVE these! [email protected]