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 that 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 go 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 of all the schools I may be travelling to. After that, everything is divided up into subject areas. Some are structured and others are open-ended tasks that work for a variety of abilities. They often begin structured and extend into more complex thinking.

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.

My 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.

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.

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 callbacks.

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.

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:

  • Scissors (4 pairs students can use)
    • Mini whiteboard eraser
    • Tape
    • Mini stapler
    • Glue Stick
    • Post its
    • Eraser
    • Binder Clips
    • Paper Clips
    • Pens
    • Sharpie
    • Highlighter
    • Wet Erase Whiteboard marker (to write student names)
    • Dry Erase Whiteboard marker

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 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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