Sub Plans for the Music Classroom |

Sub Plans for the Music Classroom

We've all been there...we get sick in the middle of the night, or our kids get sick in the middle of the night, and we are scrambling to put together sub plans. It's not fun to put together sub plans when your loved ones or you are sick, especially when we often have to plan for a substitute to not have any music background! A few years ago, after finding some sub tubs on Pinterest, I decided to make a sub tub for myself, so that I could be prepared in ANY situation with solid sub plans that could work with any sub! Here is what worked for me:
Sub plans for the music classroom: Suggestions for putting together a sub tub, links to great sub plan freebies, and more!

I bought my sub tub from Target (you can purchase a similar one here.) Here is the outside of my sub tub:

Sub plans for the music classroom: Suggestions for putting together a sub tub, links to great sub plan freebies, and more!

...and here is the inside of my sub tub:

Here is a closer look inside the sub tub:

File folder with general information
I put the following information into this folder: Introduction to my classroom (and a thank you to the sub!), information about any duties I have, information about fire, tornado, and safety response drills, routines (such as restroom, star student, etc.), discipline plan, seating, record-keeping, and my schedule. I also have a section about how to use my SMART board and my iPod, as well as where to look for student health concerns (more on that in a minute!)

Sub plans by grade level
I have file folders that each say a grade level (one for K, one for 1st, one for 2nd, etc.) In each of these folders, I have a few sub plans that could work for that respective grade level. In each folder, I included sub plans that I created from these two sets below:


There are also some freebies on TeachersPayTeachers that could work for the grade-level folders; some you will need to add directions to (as well as additional activities), some you could put into a folder on the desktop of your computer so they could open and use, and some you could print and file! Click on each picture to download each file.

Walk and running cards to practice ta and ti-ti:

Walk, Running, and Jump cards to practice half note, ta, and ti-ti:

Recorder composition cards to practice B, A, and G:

Cinderella at the Ball, to practice ta and ti-ti:

From Lindsay Jervis' store, a sub plan with a book (which you would have to purchase):

From Amy Abbott's store, a fun ta and ti-ti game:

And here is a great freebie from Pitch Publications, which you can use to type up your sub plan information and lesson plans!

Themed sub plans
This is a new project for me this year, to create sub plans which have the same theme from K-5, to make the substitute teacher's day a little bit more cohesive! I have a separate folder in my sub tub for each set, so that whether I am using a visual from the set or the sub is, they are easy to access. Here are two themed sets I have created:


Sub plans for later
In this folder, I've filed any sub plans that my students just aren't ready for yet. For example, I have some lessons to practice ta and ti-ti, but since it's October as I write this,  my first graders don't know ta and ti-ti yet. I've put those plans in my "sub plans for later" folder so I can rearrange the tub throughout the year!

Health concerns
In this file, I include any information I have with student health concerns, but I organized it by day to help out the sub. In my notes, I ask the sub to check the concerns for that day. Most of the concerns aren't an issue, as they are food allergies, but if there is an issue such as epilepsy or a severe allergy, I definitely need the sub to know!

If there is no sub...
We have had a sub shortage in my district--not just for music teachers, but for all the teachers! Our policy is simply to cancel a special on that day if there is no sub, but sometimes classroom teachers just need to sit down and get things done during what would have been their planning time. So I have a video that could work for K-2 and another video for grades 3-5, in case the classroom teacher just needs a break. That way, they don't have to create more for their kids to do on the spot, and they can get some things done...AND at least the kids will learn something about music that day!

In the picture above, you see some books in my sub tub. If any of my lessons require materials, like picture books or a purse for the song "Lucy Locket," I put them in my sub tub for easy access.

And now for a few items not in the sub tub itself...

Substitute Need-to-Know Packet
I stumbled upon this packet this year and LOVE it! It looks like this:

Sub plans for the music classroom: Suggestions for putting together a sub tub, links to great sub plan freebies as well as this great flip book, and more!

It has all of the general information at a glance the sub will need! I leave it on my desk at all times just in case something happens, so they know who to ask, a general idea of what the day looks like, etc. You can purchase it from Chalk and Apples by clicking on the picture above.

Folder on computer
If you have any digital files, mp3's, etc., it's helpful to keep a folder entitled "Sub plans" on the desktop of your computer. Just make sure your desktop is not super cluttered so the folder is easy for your sub to find and open!

Here is a Pinterest board I just created for sub plans in the music classroom; I will be adding more to it soon:

I hope this has been helpful for you as you create your own sub tub. Feel free to comment below with any more ideas or questions!


  1. Thank you for featuring my "Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo" mini lesson. Great post!

  2. I hope you don't mind. I posted a link to this on my blog for music sub plans. Jan