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!