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Efficient and Effective Middle School Sub Plans: Tips and Strategies for Stress-Free Absences

Middle school sub plans are a requirement in some districts. This article contains a list of teaching resources teachers can use from 2 Peas and a Dog.

Middle school sub plans are a requirement in some districts. It is required that all teachers in my district have ready-to-go sub plans in their classrooms. Teachers usually have a binder or a magazine holder full of student information and emergency lesson plans. 

Middle School Sub Plans Binder

What should you include in your sub binder for your middle school sub plans? First, be brief – your sub does not have time to read an essay about your classroom. 

  • Photocopy code if you want them to copy on your planning period.
  • Names of the staff on your teaching team, names of ESL, Special Education and other support teachers/staff that work with your class. 
  • Timetable/teaching schedule with times and locations for each class.
  • Timetables of students who are on alternative programs but are in your classroom. 
  • Yard duty/hall duty/other duty schedule and locations. Provide a brief description of what is required for each duty. 
  • Seating plan
  • Bus students – if they are to be released early to prep for the bus. 
  • Class rules (be brief) – let students know that rules will change when a sub is in the room. For example, if you allow cell phones in the classroom – the sub may not. Students need to understand the rules that the sub creates are to be followed for the day. 
  • Washroom procedures – sign-in/out method, how many students can go at once?
  • Fire drill/emergency procedures – ensure the information is accurate and comes directly from the school or district manual.
  • School discipline procedures – when can the sub get the principal involved?
  • A list of students with allergies, health issues or other needs. Be brief unless the student has a formal plan. If students have a formal medical or behavioural plan, my school requires these plans to be included in our sub binder. Check with your admin if these are to be included in your sub binder.

Middle School Sub Plans

As mentioned above, my district requires that any class that you teach have ready-to-go emergency lesson plans in your classroom. Below are middle school sub plans suggestions. These can be assigned on the day of your absence or kept in your emergency sub binder. I organize each subject or class period I teach using labelled file folders. In each folder, I put meaningful curriculum-related activities that my students could do in case of an emergency. 

True Story

In my first five years of teaching, I was prepping a Christmas-themed craft in my classroom during my planning period. I accidentally sliced my finger open, and blood was pouring out of my hand. I immediately ran to the office to get first aid. I was rushed to the hospital by my principal. I had to wait at the ER to get stitches! 

By the time I had arrived back to school – just in time to walk through the middle school lunch spot – the kids knew something was wrong—no one thought to have the custodian go and check my classroom or the hallway for blood. When my students arrived back in the classroom, they saw blood on desks and, I assume, on the carpet, down the hall, etc. 

No one thinks they will ever be sick at school or too sick to write real sub plans, but it can happen, and it is best to be prepared. 

Middle School Sub Plans By Subject

I have linked to free and paid resources for middle school sub plans that can help you plan for a sub. 


To make prep easier, I make sure that I teach a few different activities during the first month of school so that students are already familiar with these activities and that I can leave them if I’m going to be absent. I also ensure students have a Creative Writing Journal set up during the first or second week of school. This assignment contains 20 different writing prompts so students won’t run out of ideas on what to write about. You can find the Creative Writing Prompts and Activities on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD

I also love using podcasts in my classroom. See if your students like podcasts with this free introduction lesson to Mars Patel. You can download the questions for Season 1, Episode 1 of Mars Patel for free on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD

Another great sub assignment is the Pet Memes Assignment. Use this engaging assignment to get students excited to write. Students will first create pet memes by captioning photos of pets with speech bubbles. Then they will take one of their favourite photos and write a day in the life narrative piece about that pet. This assignment will help teachers cover narrative writing. This lesson can be adapted for multiple grade levels as needed. You can find the Pet Memes Assignment on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD

If your students LOVE sports, leave them with this Professional Basketball Persuasive Writing Assignment. In this assignment, students work on gathering evidence from a podcast to support their persuasive writing. After listening to the evidence presented by the podcast, students must decide who the greatest of all-time basketball player is — LeBron James or Michael Jordan. You can find the Professional Basketball Persuasive Writing Assignment on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.

Below are links to my favourite ELA middle school sub plans. 

Activities For Any Novel

Comprehensive Free Emergency Lesson Plans


Middle School ELA Emergency Lesson Plans: Use these ready-to-go pre-made lesson plans for middle school ELA classes. Lessons have been divided up into reading, writing, speaking/listening, and media literacy. Use these middle school sub plans lessons to help students review concepts previously taught throughout the year. Lessons can be completed on paper or on the provided Google Slides templates. Included Activities: Retell, Relate, Reflect, Review Novel Analysis Assignment, Daily Writing Assignment, Podcast Reflection Assignment, Media Review Assignment. These Middle School ELA Emergency Lesson Plans are 100% free and can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD


I leave review sheets, task cards, number talks, or games in my middle school sub plans for math. Search for your grade on Google or Teachers Pay Teachers. 


These are great go-to lessons for any science class and perfect for your middle school sub plans. Students watch a video and then decide if bottled water is truly the best option. 


Leave readings about famous people who influenced history, videos, or supplemental textbook work in your middle school sub plans. If leaving a video, prepare questions ahead of time or have students complete a 3,2,1 Chart (3 New Things They Learned, 2 Things They Already Knew But Were Confirmed, and 1 Question They Still Have). If using the 3,2,1, Chart, have students research their question if time permits.

You can also download these FREE Canadian History Sub Plans that talk about significant moments in Canada. You can get these middle school sub plans for FREE when you sign up for our email list. Once you sign up, we’ll send a copy to your inbox. Just click HERE to sign up.


For geography, I often leave a mapping assignment or an article related to global issues. You could also leave a reading that relates to a specific area of the world.

Art Sub Plans

Leave lessons that only require paper, pencils, and pencil crayons (I keep these stocked in my classroom at all times). I always have my students keep an art sketchbook to use as a fast finisher activity that I assess/grade three times a year. This is a great activity to leave for a sub. They can put on a clean playlist and let students socialize and draw. 

Health & P.E. 

I usually leave articles or videos for students to read and discuss with the sub. Check your government’s website to see if they have any free food guide activities. 

Depending on the rules of your school, the sub can continue with the P.E. unit or have the students participate in games such as Capture The Flag. Some places have strict regulations about P.E. activities for subs, so ensure you check with your administrator. 


Drama can be very difficult for a sub to teach. Leave a structured activity like a drama circle or a game like charades. Alternatively, leave a video of a play for the students to watch and analyze. 

Primary Coverage

If you have to give another teacher their prep, e.g. primary class coverage, leave something for the sub, like a picture book with a follow-up activity like quick writing and drawing response, colouring, or a word search. I would make these follow-up activities very generic that can be used with any picture book. 

Flipped Classroom Model

If your students are already using a digital LMS like Google Classroom, Teams, or Canva, you could upload any daily lessons into that program and schedule them to release on the day of your absence. I have made Screencast videos and uploaded them to Google Classroom, so all my sub has to do is monitor the tech usage and student safety. Learn more about flipped classroom tools that you can use for your middle school sub plans here

14 Ready to Go Middle School Sub Plans

Use these ready-to-go no-prep Middle School Sub Plans for ELA classes. All the teacher needs to do is upload the sub plans to a secure online location, and then students can complete the engaging before, during, and after reading/viewing activities. These middle school sub plans can also be used as asynchronous work, independent classwork, homework, or fast-finisher activities. Students will learn about a variety of high-interest topics, such as:

  1. One Child Policy
  2. 4-Day Workweek
  3. Canoeing
  4. Charitable Athletes
  5. Climate Change
  6. Effects of Sugar
  7. E-Waste
  8. Fast Fashion
  9. Fax Machines
  10. Green Buildings and Spaces
  11. Party Planning
  12. Repurposing
  13. Sustainable Fashion Trends
  14. Reusable Take Out Containers

You can find the Middle School Sub Plans on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.

Try a free sample of these Middle School Sub Plans with this One Child Policy Reading and Writing Assignment. You can find this on Teachers Pay Teachers USD or Shopify CAD.

I hope this comprehensive list of middle school sub plans helps you successfully plan for an absence. 

More Resources For Substitute Teachers & Middle School Sub Plans

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