Monday, October 10, 2016

Substitute Plans Without The Stress & Panic

Preparing for a sub is one of my least favorite things to do. I hate waking up at 2am, feeling sick, and thinking please don’t let me be sick. I can’t write sub plans right now.

Anybody else? It’s the WORST!
This year I decided to plan ahead, and I’ve had so many questions about it that I’m dedicating this post to sharing how I plan for a sub without losing my mind. I’m going to share with you the contents of my sub binder, as well as what I put in my sub tub. Plus, I’ll have a free download for you at the end of this post!

For my sub binder, I used a ½ inch sized binder to house all of my information. I organize it into 4 sections: About Our School, About Our Class, Lesson Plans, & Class Forms. My sub tub is a 20-quart Sterilite container ($6.99) from Target. For my copies, I used colored expandable file folders (affiliate link) that you can find using my Amazon link or in most office supply stores.
The "Lesson Plans" section is where I get the most questions. At my school, we don’t have to turn in our lesson plans (thank goodness), so simply leaving my plans for the sub is easier said than done. In my lesson plans section, I give a rundown/schedule for the day that is good for the ENTIRE year. I give all of the times that we do everything so routines stay the same. However, instead of detailing what to do for the reading lesson for the day, I let my sub choose a read aloud and corresponding activity from my sub tub that they are comfortable using.

Leave your email below if you want to download my free sample plans!

No, it’s not fluff. My sub tub is full of engaging read alouds that I know my students will love, as well as activities that are standards based. I don’t want my sub introducing a new concept, so most of the activities are review. There are certain skills that my students can work on all year, so those are the types of activities I include. They are not all just worksheets. I include task cards, craftivities, and math games that are no-prep. I love adding some of my no-prep math games for addition and subtraction in my sub tub. 

This year, after I chose all of the activities I wanted to put in my sub tub, I saved it for my Thursday volunteer to copy for me… yeah, she pretty much organized everything I gave her and put it in my tub for me. Win-win-win!!! 

At the end of my lesson plans, I write that if there is an assembly or special event for the day, someone from my grade level will let them know what time and where to be. I tell them that they may adjust the daily schedule and activities I have listed as they see fit. I also add daily reflection sheets for my sub so they can write a quick note to me about how the day went.
In the "About Our School" section, I give all of the basic information about my school: address, school start/end times, important phone extensions, and emergency procedures.

In the "About Our Class" section, I give details on routines, procedures, and expectations specific to my classroom. I explain specific details like the fact that my class has a line order, how many students can use the restroom at once, how students take care of sharpening pencils, etc. I also give a few details on important student information such as who has specific allergies or individualized behavior charts that they’ll need to use. 

I also explain my behavior management system. I use Class Dojo in my room, and when I’m out, I can’t exactly have my sub implement that. In its place, I leave index cards and small round stickers in my sub tub. I tell the sub to give each student an index card to put their name on and then they earn stickers in place of points. When I return, I give them points based off of how many stickers they earned. I also leave these "Substitute Reward Coupons" that are in the freebies section of Mrs. D’s Corner.

The last section of my binder is for "Class Forms." In this section, I leave a bunch of class lists for attendance and anything else a sub might want the class list for.

I hope you all found some helpful ideas and tips as you put together plans for your sub binder and sub tub! It really is SO worth your time! You can snag the signs for your sub tub for free by clicking the image below, and if you’re in need of a sub binder, here’s the LINK to mine!
Click picture to download this sign for free!


  1. do you have an editable version of the sub plan template??? If so could you email it to me at

  2. Could you break down what you have in your sub tub? I'm trying to figure out what to put in mine beyond worksheets!