Having a substitute teacher in your room isn’t always the easiest experience. That being said, having some go-to activities prepared to leave when sick days or personal days pop up can make the sub day a whole lot easier for you and the guest teacher! Ideally, it’s helpful to leave a detailed lesson plan when you’re going to be out, but as we all know, that isn’t always possible. Here are a few easy sub plans for middle school science! These activities work well as emergency sub plans OR a preplanned lesson.
Let’s talk practicals!
I highly, highly, highly, recommend prepping a sub tub or sub binder. If you or your child gets sick, you don’t want to be pulling together sub plans at 5:00 am. Trust me! A little planning ahead of time will make your life so much easier when that day comes!
The purpose of a sub binder is to give your substitute a quick glance version of your classroom. It should contain all of the important information they will need in order to have a successful day with your students.
Your substitute binder may include:
- Different rules and procedures used on a daily basis (bathroom policy, turning in assignments, etc.)
- Class rosters for each class period
- Information about taking attendance
- A feedback form for the substitute to fill out
- Names and classrooms of team members (for questions and support)
- Names of helpful students
- What to do with early finishers
In addition to all of this practical information, you’ll need to include, of course, instructions for the day’s lesson. Personally, I recommend having a couple ideas that you’ve preplanned and collected that you can simply pull last minute for the substitute when the day comes.
Easy Sub Plans for Middle School Science
Alright, the moment you’ve been waiting for…lesson ideas! As you build your bundle of science sub plans, here are a few of my go-to activities:
A WebQuest is an activity that guides students through their learning. Using videos and/or informational text articles, students will take a deep dive into a particular topic. They will demonstrate their comprehension by answering questions on the attached student sheet. This straightforward activity is ideal for substitute plans and can be completed with little or no adult assistance.
I’ve created several WebQuests that are a huge component of my middle school lesson plans. Each product comes in either a digital or PDF version. For those using Google apps, the digital versions make it easy for you to post all activity materials to Google Classroom. Your students will have exactly what they need without your sub needing to pass out or collect papers.
Here are a few examples:
To see additional WebQuest materials, click here!
Reading with Questions
Need a good emergency lesson plan? You can’t go wrong with a reading passage and comprehension questions. You can access these texts from a variety of sources.
Here are a few of my favorites:
If you’re looking for a text more closely aligned with your science content, I’ve got you covered! I’ve created several guided reading lessons that I’ve used within my own middle school science classroom. Each guided reading activity comes with printable student handouts in addition to digital Google slides. Take your preference!
The reading passages provide a detailed yet easy-to-read (avg. reading level: grades 6-8) reference on a variety of topics. The questions that accompany the text are designed to be rigorous and require students to predict, reflect, connect, and think critically about the information being presented. If you’re feeling a little sick and need a day to rest, these reading passages would be an excellent way to allow students to work on their own (either digitally or on paper) without a lot of speaking required on your part. To make things even better, you’ll be supporting literacy in the classroom too!
Check them out!
As their tagline suggests, Mystery Science lessons are designed to help kids learn to love science! Each lesson includes a video and reflection questions. The videos are fun and engaging and the questions will truly get your students thinking. Mystery Science is a fun way to keep your students learning with a sub in the room.
Who doesn’t love a good movie?! Honestly, this is one lesson plan that your students AND substitute will thank you for. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with the classics! Bill Nye and Magic School Bus will always be my personal favorites. (I guess that’s my 90’s kid nostalgia coming out.) Star Materials has some great worksheets to go along with these videos.
Brain Pop Lessons
Similar to Mystery Science, Brain Pop offers video lessons with accompanying worksheets. These science lessons are standards-aligned and organized by content topic. With a huge library of materials, you’ll be sure to find something to meet your needs. Brain Pop always gives me peace of mind knowing that my students with be doing something productive while I’m out of the classroom.
Let’s be honest! What middle school student couldn’t use more vocabulary practice? This is where vocabulary crosswords and word searches can be so helpful! Not only do they make a fun lesson plan, but your students will be reviewing important content. Each of these activities can be completed individually or assigned to a pair of students. Here are a few of my favorite emergency plans vocab puzzles:
Additional Vocabulary Review
It’s always a good idea to have backup plans when students finish early. Reviewing vocabulary words is always a good one in my book. Whether you’ve assigned a guided reading or a video lesson, there will always be a few early finishers that need something else to do.
Here are a few of my go-to’s:
Turner Graph of the Week
Looking for a way to boost your students’ data analysis skills? Look no further! Turner’s Graph of the Week has a collection of lesson plans that can be used with middle schoolers or high schoolers. This great activity asks students to review and analyze data charts and graphs and write a reflection. For some, they may be asked to create their own graph. Understanding graphed data is a staple of all stem activities. It truly isn’t something you can practice enough!
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