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New Member
I'm a new Sub and I'm just trying to get ideas on how to keep the class busy when there's no work left or the teacher didn't leave anything for you. Any tips and tricks that you've found working as subs would help alot. Thank you. =)

Mrs. Monica

Full Member
extra work/fun papers for early finishers

A lot of teachers have a plan in place to keep everyone busy. In 2nd grade and up they usually have packets in their desks. Packets are extra practice in math, handwriting, journaling, etc. Some teachers also have educational manipulatives (math blocks, etc) available for this situation. That is a quiet, fun, and educational activity for the students. I only let them work with one or two other students if they stay quiet.

Just in case these packets aren't available to me I bring age appropriate extras for the students who "get it" right away and finish early. My extras include fun word searches and mazes. Sometimes I just assign things like write their spelling words 3 times each, or to put all their spelling words into a sentence or story. In math they can write out their times tables. If it's a younger grade I might just have them write their numbers from 1 to 50 or something. They can always just read quietly to themselves.

The point is that I bring a days worth of ideas for extra activities for the grade level I have that day. First thing in the morning, after I look over the lesson plan, I figure out where I will use which of my extras throughout the day. Then I go make the copies I might need. :D


There were many days when I subbed and plans were not left either. I went around to the other teachers in the grade level and asked them for ideas. I guess I was lucky, because every time I did that, they were more than willing to help me out! Plus, it was a great way to introduce myelf to other teachers and get my name out to possibly sub for them!



At the elementary level you can have them read or read to them if the are KDG or first grade students. For older kids, a study hall or allowing them to start their homework in class keeps them occupied and the sub out of trouble in case an administrator walks by and doesn't like what they see.



Full Member

As much as I howled with laughther at Augustus' comment, BobtheSub suggestion to read to them is probably the best. I'm really surprised at how much all of the age groups "including the 7th graders" like to be read to, provided you put some emotion into the story.

Otherwise, go to the principal if the teacher hasn't left lesson plans. The teachers are required to provide lesson plans, and if they haven't, then they need to be "tattled" on. Although I've found that some principals are clueless as to what the teachers are currently doing, so you're still "screwed". But they don't have 25 kids to keep track of while you run around to other teachers trying to find out what is going on. Getting a lesson plan in place for the day is their job.

But really, 007, you probably won't have to worry; most teachers are conscientious enough to leave you with plenty to do! You'll be wondering if you have enough time to do it all, and most of the time you don't, as you just try to keep them out of trouble. Don't worry, be happy!



extra activities

If you sub enough, there will likely be situations where you may need extra work. I subbed for a teacher that put together really nice lesson plans. Unfortunately, she cut and paste the plans from the previous day's sub plans. She managed to leave me plans with only two subjects updated. I sub for another teacher who is the Queen of Worksheets. Every time there is a sub, she leaves worksheets for the entire day. For some kids this is great, but for the ones who are a little more attention deficit, it's BORING!! Other times you are given lesson plans that just aren't meaty enough.

My first choice is usually to have the kids read silently for a few minutes. Not too long, or they'll probably get unruly. 15 minutes is a lot for elementary age when a sub is present, not sure about older classes. Depending on how much time we have, or how beneficial the lessons left were to the children, I sometimes ask if there is a "class book" the teacher is reading aloud. The kids usually like for me to read a chapter of whatever book the teacher has been reading to them. The teachers that read aloud to their students usually choose books that most kids like and they hate to miss a day. Of course, those teachers will usually give a read aloud time in the schedule, but in that case, you can pick an extra time to read that extra chapter. I like to carry flashcards appropriate to the grade I am teaching that day. If we have extra time, we can always play around the world. You can ask a student for a copy of the current spelling words and hold a spelling bee or play travel with the spelling words.

In the case where the teacher hasn't left lesson plans, you could definitely go to the team teachers for that grade. Also, in our school, we have IST's that address any concerns with the lesson plans. I have subbed for a teacher who didn't leave lesson plans and the IST came in and made up lessons very quickly. If you have the teacher manuals, you could also pull a student aside and ask if they have done certain lessons. Otherwise, if the students have practice books, you can check their practice books to see where they left off.

Lots of solutions if you think clearly and don't panic.