We recently got this question from Jada on our Facebook Helpline: “I am getting ready to work as a substitute. What should I have in my ‘just in case’ sub bag? I know that teachers will usually leave materials and lesson plans, but I want to have a plan B at all times. Thanks!”

When it comes to substitute teaching, it’s always a good idea to have backup materials in addition to the teacher’s lesson plans. Check out these great suggestions from our community of teachers for what to pack in a sub bag.

Sub Bag Must: Games

  • A deck of cards for math games and cute pencils. —Edyie W.
  • Riddles and age-appropriate puzzles are great if you have time left after completing the sub plans. —Christine R.

Sub Bag Must: Classroom Management Tricks

  • A whistle! It’s hard trying to get kids’ attention on the playground if they don’t know you or your “teacher voice.” —Jenni R.
  • You can get creative with classroom management. I had a sub that made a football field on a small poster. She laminated it and then could write on it with dry-erase markers. Throughout the day, the kids that did well would move from one end zone to the other. If they made it to the other end zone, they got a reward. —Judith M.

Sub Bag Must: Tech Tools

  • I always bring a backup lesson or activity with me. If I’m subbing for French, for example, I bring in a book in French. I also bring a fun, age-appropriate video, just in case. —Kalli W.
  • There are apps, like Lexia and Symphony Math, that are good for reviewing basic skills. —Susan W.

Sub Bag Must: Extra Fun

  • A picture book with multi-age lesson plans to go with it. ReadWriteThink.org has great picture book lesson plans. Dice and worksheets are good to have handy too. —Liz M.
  • I would recommend a booklet of puzzles or even word finds. Then, the students could create a story using the words from the activities. —Randi C.
  • Mad Libs! —Dara D.

Sub Bag Must: Hand Sanitizer

  • I always brought my own mini-stapler, hand sanitizer, a pen, Advil, Band-Aids, mini–flash cards and a whistle. A shower caddy works really well as a sub bag! —Elena B.
  • Stickers, colorful pencils, candy and lots of hand sanitizer. —Delanie M.

Readers, what are your sub bag must-haves? Fill us in!