4 Steps to Simple Sub Plans

When I was still in the classroom, the most dreaded task I faced was planning for a substitute teacher. This became especially tricky during my last year of teaching. I taught 1st grade until I was 39 weeks pregnant. Frequent bouts of morning sickness, migraines, and the many necessary doctor appointments meant I was always stressing over writing sub plans. But by the time LG arrived, I felt I had finally figured out a method that made preparing for days out as simple as possible. So today I’d love to share 4 of my tips for preparing simple sub plans with you!


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1. Find or Create a Sub Plan Template

One of the first things that helped me shave time off of my preparing was having a sub plan template that I could easily grab and update. This is easy to prepare ahead of time before school even starts for the year! All you need to know is your daily schedule, and you can easily have your template saved on your computer and ready to go! I didn’t have to spend time recreating this format each time I was out, which was super helpful!

Looking for a template that’s all ready for you to edit?? CLICK HERE to grab my FREE, EDITABLE sub plans template!


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2. Use NO PREP Activities That Don’t Require Copies

Next to having a ready-to-go template, this was BY FAR the biggest life saver for me. So often teachers think you need to have a million copies ready to go for a sub. Not true! As a former sub myself, it didn’t matter at all if I had copies or simply instructions for no prep activities. As long as there were clear instructions, I was good to go!

The activity above was one of my go-to activities for every set of sub plans! Every week in class, my kiddos would end the week by writing sentences with that week’s vocabulary words and illustrating them. So since they were already used to this format, I always included it in my sub plans.

To prep this activity, simply instruct your substitute to give each student a sheet of printer paper or manilla (or “vanilla” if you’re a first grader, ha!) construction paper. Your students will need to fold their paper into 4 sections, 1 for each vocabulary word. Then in each section, your students will write a sentence using a vocabulary word from your chosen list and illustrate it. I loved using this to assess how well my students understand their new vocabulary words, and it was a super simple assignment for the substitute to manage!


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3. Leave Spiral Review Worksheets

When I was really ill and needing to miss work, the last thing I wanted to stress about was how to guide a substitute in teaching a new skill to my students. So I used my days out as a time for my students to review skills that I had already taught them. This made spiral review work SO necessary! However, I found myself spending more time than I wanted sifting through old files of copies that hadn’t been used.

To help prevent other teachers from going through the same stress, one of the first resources I created when I opened my TeachersPayTeachers store was a line of monthly spiral review sub packs. For each month of the school year, I created 20 spiral review worksheets (along w/answer keys)  with matching seasonal theme. I made sure that all of the skills included had already been introduced by that month. Not only did this eliminate the concern over how new skills would be taught, it also allowed substitutes to focus more on managing student behavior than assisting with tons of work.

Want to make life a smidge easier with spiral review worksheets that are ready for you to print and leave? CLICK HERE to learn more about my Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade sub packs! OR click the images below to check out the year-long bundles!

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BUNDLE Cover

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4. Prep and Organize in Advance

My last tip is to prep and organize emergency sub plans in advance. As teachers, you’re always playing defense to avoid catching germies your little cuties might be spreading around. To be the best teacher you can, you need to be able to take the time you need in order to heal or restore your health. So having a set of plans ready to go allows you to pass the torch on to a sub and head back to bed!

These EDITABLE sub plan labels from my friend Alleah Maree are SO handy for keeping all of your assignments, plans, and copies nicely labeled and ready for your sub to get to work! CLICK HERE to grab them now!


So how about you?? Do sub plans drive you batty?? Do you find yourself dragging your sick self to school to avoid them?? NO MORE! I hope these 4 tips help you prep simple sub plans and allow you more of the time you deserve!

To find more resources for your K-2 classroom, CLICK HERE and follow my TeachersPayTeachers store!