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Try Task Cards for Your Substitute Teacher Plans

Substitute teacher planning is faster and easier with task cards. So next time you’re lesson planning for a sub, use these ideas and tips for simple, smooth, and engaging plans that teachers and students will love. Best of all, you can use and reuse plans like this.

Not too long ago, I felt absolutely awful and had to take an unexpected sick day. Unfortunately, I had no sub plans ready to go.

Yeah, I know you’re shaking your head at me right now in disbelief. But I never get sick! Well, hardly ever.

I knew that my “Emergency” sub plans were way too generic (and kinda cruddy), so I had to make a special trip to school at 9:30 at night. In the winter. In the dark. Feeling like crapola.

Not. Fun. At. All.

Well, an hour and a half later, I was still struggling to get decent plans made. I was furious at myself for not having plans ready-made and getting more frustrated by the minute.

I determined this would never, ever happen again.


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Task Cards to the Rescue!

I later realized that task cards were, and still are, the answer to my sub prayers.

Here are some basic guidelines for substitute teacher plans and task cards:

    1. Decide what you want your sub to do with the task cards. Do you want students playing SCOOT or another game? Maybe you’d prefer your sub to work with a small group of students while others work independently. Read this blog post:  How to Energize Your Teaching with Task Cards for gobs of practical and engaging ideas if you need some inspiration.
    2. Plan to use task cards in your own lessons, so students learn expectations and have experience with them.
    3. Plan time to instruct students on using the answer recording sheets. If your students are like mine, they’ll probably need to be explicitly taught how to use the answer recording sheets. Some kids become confused and put answers in the wrong boxes or spaces. This is especially true if you plan to spread the task cards around the room and have students complete them in random order.
    4. I suggest you type the directions for at least one specific game or activity that you want the sub to do with the task cards in case the main lesson ends early. It’s usually a good idea to switch up your lessons and activities midway through the class period to keep students focused, especially when there’s a sub in the room.
    5. Make sure that you leave the answer key and (if needed) a quick tutorial on how to solve the math problems. I’ve learned that math can often be quite intimidating for subs. 
  1. Leave a copy of my FREE task card guide, “What are Task Cards For?” (grab below!) in your sub plans just in case your sub has additional time during class. I try to over-plan for my subs. But, you know, as I do, that students need to be kept busy because downtime usually leads to trouble.
  2. Best of all, once you get the sub-plans typed up, you can switch out different task cards each time you need a sub. So, hopefully, much of the lesson plans you type up can be used and then reused with few changes.

Task Card FREEBIE!

Need a FREE guide to get you started using task cards? Click on the picture below for a FREE download of  “What Are Task Cards For?” a guide filled with ideas and activities for incorporating task cards into your lessons.



Task Card Sets

Here’s a link to some of the task cards that I’ve left for subs in the past:  Area & Perimeter Task Cards
Area and Perimeter Task Cards for Squares and Rectangles!

I love these “Used and Abused Verbs” task cards reinforcing the correct usage of commonly misused verbs. It focuses on verbs that students use incorrectly, like did/done (such as “I done it.”) isn’t/aren’t/ain’t (“We ain’t got school Friday.”);  you get the picture. I just absolutely can’t take it when my students say “tooken”!! UGH!!

Click here:   Used and Abused Verbs Task Cards


I love the idea of having students make their own task cards. I have some blank task cards available for just that purpose!

Here are ink-saving task cards:  Ink Saver Task Cards – Make Your Own!  Great for exit tickets and reviewing!

Blank Task Cards for All subjects - students write their own questions

Or, if you don’t mind the extra ink – here are some colored ones:  Colored task cards – make your own!

Blank Task Cards - Make Your Own or allow students to write their own questions

When I’m feeling sickness coming on, I still flashback to that horrible night. I remember typing up directions for several task card games, searching for answer keys, and wondering, “Why didn’t I figure this out sooner?!?!?!”

Seriously – using task cards for substitute teachers is such a NO-BRAINER! What took me so looooong?!?!?