Monday, December 7, 2015

Sub Kits

It's Always the Little Things That Are Such Game-Changers!!

On the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving, the unspeakable happened... two of my children started vomiting! Within hours, three of my four kiddos were down-and-out with a nasty stomach bug!

Stomach bugs are the things of nightmares. Especially, when you have four kids, two of whom are too young to make it to the bathroom.

I spent the better part of Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday morning doing laundry, rubbing backs, doing laundry, syringing teaspoons of Pedialyte into sleepy mouths, doing laundry, and applying cool compresses to feverish heads. But, you know what I didn't have to spend a minute doing?!?! Writing sub plans!! Because this year, I made myself a slammin' sub kit and, ladies and gentleman, I can say for sure that this is a game-changer!!

Leaving sub plans is the worst. It's actually worse than the worst. They take me hours... and usually, like in the case of last week, I do not have hours to spare to put them together.

And then, despite how wonderful your sub might have been, it's rare that the plans you spent hours putting together have been implemented to the point that adequate work has been produced.

Well this year, I decided to change that! After 11 years of teaching, I put together this sub kit. Now, this is hardly a new or original idea! Lots of you are loads smarter than me and have been using one of these babies for ages! But, for some reason, I just never got around to putting one together... until this year!

Let me show you mine:

First, I used a box... like the ones that I wrote about here. I made a cute cover... obviously, yours doesn't need a cute cover, but I wanted it to be big and bold so a sub coming into the room can't miss it!

Inside, I have glued a note to the sub explaining all the procedures of the day.

Next, I have a stack of important documents: attendance forms, class lists, fire/lock down drill info, etc:

And then I have plans... and not just any plans, but fun, engaging, standards-aligned plans that I've put time and thought into creating. The idea is for students to be engaged (and therefore, well-behaved), but also doing something meaningful.... not just busy work.

In each folder, I have explicit directions for the sub, along with enough copies of necessary materials for all my students. (Check out the task cards and directions for "Writing Pass" that are available here.)

I keep two days worth of plans in the kit, but I have several additional folders of lessons that can replace the plans in the box as they get used.

This kit sits right on top of this stack of bins on my desk. You really can't miss it! So, if I need to be out and I have no time to sit and write out my sub plans, all I need to do is put a note to the sub through the computer system we use to put in for a sick day saying: Please see Sub Kit on my desk for directions and plans for the day. 

And that's it! I can get back to my sick kiddos (because let's face it, they are really the only reason I miss school. I could be steps away from a coma and I'd still drag myself to school!  I know, I know... not good! But, it's the truth!!)

So, anyone use a sub kit? What do you keep in yours? Anything I'm missing?

I'd love to hear from you :)

Happy Teaching!!


  1. So, do you leave two days worth of writing pass activities for the sub? Do you students seem to do two days of that one lesson without complaint? I purchased your Writing Pass task cards and I am currently making the sub folder. LOVE your idea! Thanks! Have you cut out the task cards and laminated them?

    1. Hi Lisa!

      Well, I've never had to use the kit TWO days in a row (thankfully!!), but I think they would love to do Writing Pass two days in a row! It's one of their favorite activities :)


  2. Do you have any "go to" sub plans that you recommend in addition to the "writing pass"?

  3. Do you have any "go to" sub plans that you recommend in addition to the "writing pass"?