Emergency Lesson Plan Ideas

Ideas, Tips and Suggestions in Case of Absence

Classroom out of control with teacher tier up with rope.

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There are going to be times when you will be absent from school due to unforeseen circumstances. To ensure your classroom continues to run smoothly, you should plan ahead by creating emergency lesson plans. These plans will provide the substitute teacher with what should be covered throughout the day. It's a good idea to keep these lesson plans in the main office or mark where they are located somewhere in your substitute folder.

Here are a few ideas that you can add to your emergency plan folder:


  • Provide a list of writing prompts and have the students use their creative writing skills to develop a story based on the prompt they chose.
  • Provide the substitute with a few books to read to the students and have him/her choose any of the following activities for the students to complete:
    1. Write a paragraph telling what character was your favorite.
    2. Write a paragraph telling what your favorite part of the story was.
    3. Discuss a book that was similar to the one that you just heard.
    4. Make a bookmark and include the name of the book, the author, the main character and a picture of an important event that happened in the story.
    5. Write an extension of the story.
    6. Write a new ending to the story.
    7. Write what you think will happen next in the story.
  • Write spelling words in ABC order.
  • Have students answer questions from textbooks that you normally would not have the students answer.
  • Provide a copy of the book "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson and have the students use the ready strategy "Sketch-to-Stretch" to re-tell the story.
  • Have students use the letters in their spelling words to make sentences. For example, if they had the spelling word "Storm" they would use the letters to write the sentence, "Sally tasted only red M&M's."


  • Play bingo with spelling words. Have students fold paper into squares and write one spelling word on each square.
  • Play the game "Around the World" with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, spelling words or states.
  • Play "Spelling Relay." Separate students into teams (boys vs girls, rows) then call out a spelling word and the first team to write it correctly on the front board gets a point for their team.
  • Play the "Dictionary Game." Make sure you have enough dictionaries for all students or at least for teams of two. Then hand out a worksheet with at least 10 words on it for the students to find their meaning and write a sentence about it.
  • Have students draw a map of their classroom and provide a key for it.
  • Make a poster of your favorite book. Include the title, author, main character and main idea of the story.

Quick Tips

  • Make lessons that are simple and easy to do. You never know the expertise of the teacher that will be in your classroom.
  • Make sure plans cover ALL subjects. Your best bet is to have these lessons be review lessons because the substitute will have no idea where you are in your curriculum, and you will not know when the emergency will occur.
  • Include a few easy worksheets or Scholastic News magazines that the students can read and discuss together as a class.
  • Prepare a "theme for the day" folder and place related activities in the folder. Ideas for themes are space, sports, bugs, etc.
  • Allow the substitute to offer the students an extra 15 minutes of free time at the end of the day if the students behaved appropriately.
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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "Emergency Lesson Plan Ideas." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/emergency-lesson-plan-ideas-2081986. Cox, Janelle. (2023, April 5). Emergency Lesson Plan Ideas. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/emergency-lesson-plan-ideas-2081986 Cox, Janelle. "Emergency Lesson Plan Ideas." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/emergency-lesson-plan-ideas-2081986 (accessed June 6, 2023).