I’m a Sub. What Should Be in My “Just in Case” Sub Bag?

Anyone know where Mary Poppins bought her bag?

sub bag

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!