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Thursday, September 13, 2012

5 Great Freebies to Leave for a Substitute Teacher

Well, it's been a rough week.

I found out on Sunday that my godmother, Joanna, has passed away.

Everything else pales in comparison to that kind of news. She was one of those beautiful people who found joy in everything and never let go of her passions, even as she dealt with the frustrating and debilitating symptoms of MS for years. She was only 55.

I didn't live as close to her as I would have liked to, but I will still miss her infectious laugh like crazy. For those of you who pray, please keep her husband and kids in your prayers.

Unfortunately, as teachers, we don't just get to call our bosses and say, "I'll need to be gone" and go. A lot of times, I will avoid being gone simply because it's hard to be gone. I hate writing sub plans.

But in order to carpool to Wisconsin for Joanna's service tomorrow, I will need to miss some school time. I'll share next week how I use my custom lesson plan template to make easy sub plan templates, but in the meantime, I thought I would share a few of the go-to freebies on my blog and elsewhere that work so well to leave for a sub.

First of all, I would be crazy if I didn't mention the free emergency sub plans over at SubHub. She takes a book or book series as the focus, and develops age-appropriate substitute plans that are meaningful but could be used any day of the year. Terrific resource for the "just in case."

One of my favorite reading activities is this free foldable from Rulin' The Roost. It can work with any fiction book, and once I've introduced it, the kids can do it completely on their own. Plus, it's still meaningful review of reading strategies.

Miss Nelson Is Missing!

I love to have the sub read aloud Miss Nelson is Missing (okay, I don't love it... actually, I wish I could dress up and be a "sub" one day and then read it aloud, but that is an awful lot of work and I'm not sure I could really convince them I was someone else anyway).

Anyway, after we read it, it's fun to have the kids write about where they think I am. Ginger Snaps just shared the cuuuutest way to do this, with both primary and intermediate paper, and for free, too. This is SO much cuter than how I usually do it- and to top it off, she included a way for them to write it as a news article, too. LOVE IT!

In spelling, I love to have a game. We've played them before, the kids will be a little active, but they won't be too active. Perfect. My go-to games are pretty simple, but you can download them here.

One easy math activity to leave is the My Number sheet (my very first freebie!). Again, meaningful review at any point in the year (although I do update it and make it a bit harder by the end!)- and the kids already know what to do.

I also think that there is simply no way to have kids practice math facts enough, so I have some of the great games from Deb at Oh My Little Classity Class, like this free addition one. I like to include games at least once during the day- especially with a sub, it helps with the wiggles.

I really try to make sure that days with substitute teachers are worthwhile- in part because we just have too much to learn to skip a day, and in part because I know the kids can see right through busywork and I know they won't behave as well.

Other great options?
- Scholastic News, Time for Kids, etc.
- Math Journal prompts (I gave away some freebie prompts here!)
- Free video on or (if you trust technology to work!)
- Color-by-Number type sheets- great to leave "in case you have extra time"

None of us like to miss school, but these are some of the freebies that sit in my "sub plans" file, easy to copy in a pinch to make it a little easier. Any other easy activities to leave in sub plans that I'm missing?


  1. Seriously, it's like you can read my mind. I came down with something today and had to leave school early. Luckily, I just split my class, but I'm dreading the day that I have to call in since there is no way I would be ready for a sub!
    Teaching in the Valley

  2. Thanks for the freebies~ I'll place this in my sub tub:-)

  3. The teacher I subbed for today had Scholastic hahaha :)

    She also has some fun writing activities called Draw and Write. The kids draw a picture and write about it.

    For math, she does a color by number where if the sum is a certain number, it's a certain color.

    Journey of a Substitute Teacher
    Endless Pinabilities!

  4. Thanks for the link-up! I'm a little slow... ;)


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