What is in your Sub bag?

I have taken the leap into substitute teaching and the best way I found to prepare and ease my nerves was to plan and pack my sub bag.

I have a zip top organizing utility tote which holds four water bottles, perfect for my water bottle, tea, coffee and smoothie (should I decide on a health kick ;). I have it packed and ready to got at a moment's notice because calls come first thing in the morning when life is pretty crazy in my house. I don't have time to run around packing a bag, I'm busy packing lunches and getting children out the door.

My sub bag includes:

  • Sub Binder
  • Favourite picture books with corresponding activities
  • Story Sparkers
  • Pencils and colouring pencils
  • Stickers
  • Business cards
  • Yoga cards
  • Basic Supplies
  • Prize Bag

Sub Binder

I keep my division substitute handbook at the front with a map to all the schools I may be travelling to. After that everything is divided up in subject areas. Some are structured and others are open ended tasks which work for a variety of abilities. They often begin structured and extend into more complex thinking.

Writing Process Magnets

Writing Process Magnets which allow students support through the 5 steps: prewrite, draft, revise, edit, publish. This helps to illustrate the writing process and have a visual reference on the whiteboard.

I also have back up white paper and lined paper should we need it.

Favourite picture books with corresponding activities

Having a few favourite books on hand means I am ready to jump in with my story if a lesson runs short or we need a change of activity. I only bring a few as most classrooms have some good quality reading books.  

Story Sparkers

These 50 photos cards contain beautiful photos and stimulus for writing.

Story Sparkers

The preprinted sentence starters and open ended questions encourage different types of writing. They can be used in conjunction with the Writing Process Magnets.

Pencils and Colouring pencils

I expect to be able to find pencils and colouring pencils or crayons in the classroom but just in case have a class set of each.


These are a great way to say thank you to students for great work. I keep Everyday Favourites Stickers and Super Stars And Smiles Stickers handy.

Everyday Favourites Stickers          Super Stars And Smiles Stickers

As I move around the classroom I can also put a sticker on their work to show that I have discussed their work. It helps me keep track and can be used as a motivator. For the younger years they are a happy way to end the day.

Business cards

Always good to have on hand. I leave a couple with the class teacher and make sure the secretary also gets one for future call backs.

Yoga cards

Yoga is a great way to refocus a class and teach breathing and calming techniques. I use a couple of resources and one of them is Body Poetry: Yoga Cards.

Body Poetry: Yoga Cards

The cards are split into three levels: easy, intermediate, and challenging. On the front is a photograph of a child surrounded by a bright image. On the reverse are illustrated instructions. They are clear enough that students can help lead the activity.

Basic Supplies

So this is quite a list but I won't rummage through a teacher's desk and don't like to be caught short so I have:

I know it is a long list but it all fits into 2 pencil cases.

I like to write a list of student names on the board and tick by their name when I catch them following the class rules and working well. This reminds me to focus on positive rather than the negative behaviour.

Prize Bag

In a ziplock I have a selection of prizes:

Students can have their name in the prize draw by getting a certain number of ticks by their name. This encourages them to work and me to focus on praise.

Yes, my bag is a quite heavy! I am however, prepared for a wonderful sub plan or very little assistance. What is in your sub bag?

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