Substitute Teacher Time-Fillers

Every substitute teacher knows there are days when she walks into a classroom, and there are no lesson plans. It happens. Being prepared for these and other emergencies come with the territory. ‘Time-Fillers’ are key to days such as these in order to feel prepared and keep the day running smoothly.

One time-tested substitute teacher trick is a well-stocked sub bag with these types of activities. This works best when you target specific age groups, such as early childhood, (preschool-2nd grade), elementary school, (3rd through 6th grades), middle school and high school. If you spend time teaching in more than one age group, make a bag for each age-group. Have it ready to go when you get your next online assignment. These impromptu tricks also work well for the children who finish all of their work early and need something extra to do.

For an early childhood bag (preschool through second grade) include some of the following:

  • Children’s books to read aloud-chose three or four of your favorites.
  • Prepared activities, such a flannel-graph activity, art project or writing activity to follow-up with the story time, and enhance comprehension skills.
  • Scented markers and some drawing paper. Scented markers are a novelty for the children and not part of a school’s standard budget. Be sure to pack more than one box.
  • Age appropriate games, like the card game, Go Fish! Others games include Pick-up Sticks, Memory Match®, some simple mazes, or a set of ABC Flashcards. Use flash cards to play games that practice letter identification and sounds.
  • Paper and pencils for playing Tic Tac Toe are a good addition.

For an elementary school bag (grades 3-6) you might include:

  • Age appropriate books the children will enjoy hearing you read aloud
  • Prizes for a Spelling or Math Bee
  • Card games such as Uno® and Old Maid®
  • A few puzzle books like Word FindSudoku, and Easy Crossword Puzzles, make excellent and educational time fillers.

For middle school and high school you might include:

  • Age appropriate books (don’t forget that the ‘big kids’ still like picture books :))
  • Prizes for correct answers to questions
  • A timer (or a timer on your phone) you can use to create games and contests
  • Puzzles such as  Rubik’s Cubes® and Tricky Triangle® Puzzles. These can be purchased inexpensively from Oriental Trading, Amazon, or most large multi-purpose stores.

With these suggestions as a start, you can add to the list, drawing from your creative ideas. Pinterest and other internet sources, also offer lots of ideas to make your bag of tricks a lifesaver for a sub in a pinch. Be prepared to explain the educational benefits of these activities, should a supervisor or parent ask.

For more information on how to be the best substitute teacher, contact us.

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