10 Quick Lesson Ideas for Substitute Teachers

If you are a substitute teacher, chances are you bounce around from grade to grade, and sometimes even between different schools. While some teachers take the time to plan your day for you, or at least have lesson plans and materials ready in a folder for any time, there are times when you have to go it alone. Here are 10 quick lesson ideas that you might use for your next substitute teacher engagement. Just keep them in a tote bag and use them where necessary.

1. Create puzzles.

Word search, crossword, and other printable word games are great when you need something to use in the classroom. Simply print off a bunch of different puzzles and carry them with you when you are substituting.

2. Pictionary.

Write the names of some current movies, icons, popular songs, and favorite cartoon characters on slips of paper and place the slips into a bag. Now place the students into two groups. Let the first team pick a person to come up and pull a slip out of the bag, and draw what it says on the whiteboard. Let either team guess what he or she is drawing. The one to guess gets to come up and draw the next thing. Continue until the slips are gone.

3. Brick Brainstorm.

Come up with a lesson subject, such as electricity, technology, etc. Prepare bricks by using red construction paper. Give each student a brick. Now pose a question to the class, such as "What would you have done differently, if you invented the light bulb?" Let students write their responses on their brick. Then have students come up with their brick and explain their answer. Tape the brick to a wall, and as each child comes up, keep adding to make an entire brick wall.

4. Story Starters.

Tell the students what the lesson is about, and then write a story starter on the whiteboard such as for a rainforest theme, "One day I was walking through the forest in Savanna, when I heard…" Now let another volunteer come up and add a sentence to the story. If you do not have time to finish the story before class ends, make it a homework assignment for the children to finish the story and bring it back the next day to give to their teacher.

5. Create a Dictionary.

When presenting a lesson idea to the class, let the students come up with words that they think will be presented during the lesson. Write these words on the board with definitions, and have the students write down the words and definitions on paper. As the students learn about the lesson, let them check off any of the words that they did hear. See how many words they guessed correctly. Now have the students add more vocabulary words to their list, based on actual words used in the lesson, while you write them on the whiteboard.

6. Getting to Know You.

Have students write an essay about themselves. Ask them to write the answers to these questions (and come up with others): " If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? " If you could be anything in the world, what would you choose? " What is the best vacation you ever had?

7. Lead a group discussion.

If your class seems to be under control, leading a discussion is a great way to talk about a lesson. Examples of discussion questions might include: " If there weren't such things as rules, what would the world be like? " What do you think is the worst thing about school? How about the best? " Who are some of your heroes? What makes them so great?

8. Magic Tricks.

Learn a magic trick or two by studying books at your library or finding one online. After you perform the trick for the class, teach them how you did it. Let them practice the trick for a while on their own.

9. Riddles.

Use riddles that stretch the brain to think hard. Of course, make them grade-appropriate, but somewhat challenging. For instance ask them: " What gets wet the more you dry with it? " The owner of a hotel wants the room doors numbered in order. There are 100 rooms. You must go out and buy the numbers to hang on all the doors. How many of each digit, 0 thru 9, will you need to buy?

10. Create a Rebus.

Engage students in a story by reading a short tale. Aesop's Fables work great with this idea. After reading the story, go back through the story and let children draw pictures in place of nouns. They can draw the pictures on the whiteboard. Now go back and read the story letting the students call out the nouns as you point to them on the whiteboard.