What you need when you need a few days…

Back to school! It’s around the corner… there is excitement, nervousness, a feeling of unpreparedness… and I’m not talking about the students 😬

Teachers make it to August every year only to realize that the next school year is around the corner. While I have lots of options for help with planning your Social Studies curriculum (see here), one thing that is a must-do in the first few days is preparing your EMEREGENCY SUB FOLDER. I am notorious for not getting this ready in time- it’s the last thing on my mind when just coming back! But, sure enough, a few weeks in, illness/an emergency/mental health needs come a’ knocking.

Let’s make this simple.

The resources in your sub folder should consistent of student-centered work where you leave the sub with little else but babysitting duties. The less direct instruction that you have to provide to the sub, the less stress you will feel for needing some days off. I love filling my sub folder with material that requires simple instruction, such as “make 60 copies of the Sojourner Truth Scavenger Hunt. Distribute to students”. DONE! No lengthy explanation needed: make copies, give to students. Here are a few ideas of helpful material for your classroom:

US History: There are 16 Primary Source Readings in the resource below. They align with an entire US History course from beginning to end. So, if you need three days off in January, there are primary source readings that will align with your pace in the course (i.e. The Industrial Age, WWI, Women’s Suffrage. That’s the historical period I am usually teaching about by January). Each primary source scavenger hunt should take an entire class period or more, and students love them! Heck, I’ll often assign them just for good critical thinking and primary source analysis work when I’m not sick. I have also attached a link to a teacher-favorite for almost all grade levels- The Ultimate US Maps Pack. There are 8 maps that allow students to dabble in their more creative sides.

World History: Similarly, I have included a package of informational readings of six Ancient Civilizations so students can focus on reading strategies- like annotating. Additionally, I have included two maps activities for creative outlets- Ancient World Maps and Mesoamerica Maps. Like the US History material, all resources are student-centered and provide you with different options as to what skills/knowledge you would like your students to work on.

In the making: I am currently putting together review material for my AP Government & Politics course that would make for great sub folder-material. In the meantime, this Bureaucracy Project is a fun way for student to enhance their Unit 2 content, while also giving them an student-centered, group activity to complete that spans several days.

I hope that these materials allow you to check-off the “Emergency Sub Plans” portion of your to-do list, and alleviate a little stress! Have an amazing school year 😉


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Hi! I’m Teri, a.k.a. the “Mad Historian”. I enjoy fitness, heels, and history, but most of all, I love creating effective classroom resources and sharing my strategies.

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