Substitute Plans for Elementary PE

One of the things I worried about the most my first year of teaching PE was what to do if I needed a substitute. 

This was also in the time of COVID, when we were bouncing back and forth between in-person and hybrid, so even I wasn't sure what we would be doing one week to the next.

No matter the climate, having solid substitute plans are an important part of getting set up for PE-- it will alleviate stress when you're probably already stressed enough with whatever is taking you from school that day, and allow you to rest, recover, and heal knowing your students are in good hands.

Types of Substitute Plans

There are two main categories of sub plans: Planned and Emergency

Planned is when you know you will be gone in advance. You can create plans that are continuous with what you have been working on, you may even get the chance to set our equipment before you go, and you can leave specific notes to the sub, who is maybe even someone you chose in advance.

Ideally, all of our sub days would be planned. They still require lots of work, but at least you are healthy when writing them and can get everything squared away before you go.

Emergency plans are some of the trickiest to plan, but an essential part of your prep for the year. These are used on days when you or a family member is unexpectedly sick. Maybe you need to be out of school last-minute. You don't have time to set up, you have no idea who will take your classes, and you don't have the energy or brain power to figure it out the night before or morning of.

You will inevitably need both types of plans at some point during the year, so it's best to have a rough outline for Planned absences and a folder or binder with Emergency plans all ready to go as early as possible in the school year.

What All Sub Plans Need

No matter if it's Planned or Emergency, there are certain things that all sub plans need.

This includes:

  • rosters for each class (ideally with photos)
  • squad/small group lists
  • how to get the class' attention/transition procedures (I have an electronic whistle which is great when a sub comes since they can use it, too!)
  • daily schedule
  • class schedule
  • helpful students (2 per class)
  • students who need some extra behavior support
  • students with health concerns
  • what to do if a student gets hurt
  • Nurse Pass & Health Room procedure (I also include a small baggie with extra masks and bandaids to give to students if needed)
  • Office Pass
  • Bathroom Pass & procedure
  • Water procedure
  • emergency plans (fire/tornado/lockout/lockdown)
  • building phone numbers
  • where to find materials for games (if any)
  • where the adult bathroom and faculty lounge are 
  • school rules & consequences (school forms, if necessary)
  • PE rules & consequences
  • rewards (stamps or stickers) for students
  • line up procedures at the end of class
I am careful to mark "confidential" on the top of any pages that include sensitive student information, but it's important for the sub to know about these things, especially health and behavior concerns.

I also include a sheet of small stickers for them to pass out to students at the end of class. I want kids to feel excited about a sub and know there are positive reward for a job well done when I am away.

For an editable version of this checklist on Google Docs, click HERE to get your own copy!

Lessons to Add to Sub Plans

These next ideas will differ based on whether you are writing Planned or Emergency plans, but it's important to include the following:

  • warm-ups
  • games and activities
  • cool down
  • Mindful Moment/reflection script
*Find out more about my Class Schedule HERE.

Something I am cognizant of is that I may be comfortable with a lot of equipment and supplies, but chances are, my sub isn't.

Not only do they not know where they all get stored in the gym, so setting up could be a real hassle on emergency sub days, but they probably don't feel comfortable managing so much equipment with K-5 students all day.

Because of that, whether I have planned absences or not, I try to limit equipment to just the basics and keep the materials easy to find and easier to manage.

Games & Activities for Sub Days

Simple but fun games are always on the menu for sub days. 

You want to ensure that there aren't complex rules or excessive competition, both of which make it overly challenging for the students to understand and the sub to manage.

Equipment should be easy and safe, if any is used at all.

Whole-class games are best so that all students are engaged the whole class. Standing around waiting for long periods of time can quickly become a management nightmare.

Making games consistent across K-5 (with accommodations for older and younger grades) makes it easy for the sub to teach all day and also works in your favor, as students will remember the sub games from year to year.

So what games and activities work?

Some of our favorites include tag, relays, and challenges.

I'm linking some helpful videos by one of my favorite YouTubers, PhysEdGames:

Many of these require very little equipment, but some of them do require noodles, hula hoops, sit spots, etc. We use those often enough in PE that they are front and center in my equipment storage, so it's easy for me to get anytime and also easy for a substitute to find.

Teach the Sub Games

Most of these games I reserve specifically for the substitutes, but I also teach them during the first few days of class at the start of the year.

Not only are they simple and easy to organize, they keep everyone involved and teach students what these games are called and how they are played correctly.

That way, if and when a sub is called in, the kids already know how to play the game the sub announces.

I will also sprinkle these games in from time to time throughout the year, because what they learn in August is hard to recall in February!

My recommendation is to give the YouTube links to the substitutes in your sub plans. We submit out plans over Google Docs, so inserting a direct link is helpful. I have found with most things PE that it is easier to watch and understand than to write out the details and try to visualize it in your head.

If you have any specific changes or clarifications to the rules, be sure to add those into the plans so you can ensure they have what they need to successfully lead the students. 

Having Emergency sub plans & a template for Planned days away ready at the start of the year can help alleviate additional stress when the time comes for you to be out from school.

I hope these ideas gave you a springboard to creating your own plans and please share any of your favorite sub games and activities in the comments below. Bonus points if they are K-5 and require a small amount of equipment!

Stay well,

No comments

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment!