Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Emergency Sub Plans for Middle School Math


Emergency sub plans for middle school math! 

  • Do you have emergency sub plans?
  • Will you need them? 
Chances are good that you WILL need them!
Your school district might require you to have a week, or even two weeks, of plans ready to go.
Or maybe you just want emergency plans ready, so you’re extra-prepared for anything that comes up!

What's the Best Approach for Emergency Sub Plans in Math?

What’s the best way to approach emergency sub plans for middle school math?

  • If you’re like me, you don’t want your absence to cause your math students to ‘get behind’ in the curriculum…you don’t want things to be put on hold or to stop in the middle of a unit.
  • BUT, you don’t always know who will be taking over your math class….will it be a math teacher or someone who has never taught math and isn’t comfortable with math?

If you must have the plans set at the beginning of the year, you can’t really include the specific content you’ll be teaching when those plans are needed. 

So what’s the best approach for sub plans? 

First off…if you do have to be out and there’s a test (or some other really critical item) scheduled for your first or second day of absence, I’d keep that on the schedule. Do whatever you can to be sure students get to take the test as scheduled.

  • Make sure you’re prepped for the test a couple days before….copies made or links prepared, so no one has to scramble to take care of it that morning (or has to postpone it).

After the test, your sub can move on to the emergency plans.

  • (I only mention prepping ahead because I was guilty of last-minute, ‘morning of’ prepping too often. Eventually, I started prepping my classroom for the next day before I left in the afternoon….writing the agenda on the board, being sure all copies were done, etc. Maybe you’re already great at being prepped ahead of time, but in case you’re not, I recommend getting into that habit:-)

OK, on to some emergency sub plan ideas…

Problem Solving Activities for Emergency Sub Plans

Problem solving is always an area that students can practice!
I typically include problem solving sheets requiring students to show all their math work AND do some writing, to explain how they arrived at their answers.
Some problem solving suggestions include:

  • numberless problems
  • problem solving that addresses standards from the previous year
  • multi-step problems that incorporate basic operations
  • logic puzzles

There are several free problem solving sheets here on this site. And, if you’ve been part of my email community for a while, you’ve received quite a few free problem solving sheets in my emails:-)

Color by Number Activities for Emergency Sub Plans

Color by number activities are my favorite for sub plans:-) Once I started creating these, they were always part of my sub plans! 

If I was out for just a day, I’d include one for the math topic we were covering. 

However, in the emergency plans, I included mixed practice color by numbers, like this free one.

  • Members of my email community received a free color by number every month for a while, so you might have several of these saved or still waiting in your inbox!

I also loved including Faceing Math activities. These incorporate drawing as well as coloring. They are so much fun and so creative! 

My own children brought these home as homework and got me hooked on them:-)

Other Activities for Emergency Sub Plans

Number Puzzles
Many students love number puzzles, and depending on the type, they can be excellent to help students problem solve, work on math fluency, develop persistence, and look for patterns.

Review Lessons

If you have time, creating review lessons focused on areas of student need could be very beneficial.

At the beginning of the year, you might do a pre-assessment of math skills needed for your grade level (Grab a free 6th grade pre-assessment here). Review lessons would then focus on those skills students seemed to have the most difficulty with.

  • In 6th grade, students have always needed extra fraction and decimal practice, so I’d include those in review lessons. You could grab a few practice sheets with the free Fraction Review Toolkit.

Computer Time as Part of Sub Plans

If this is a possibility, I’d recommend having students work on whatever program your school may use…students can complete a lesson every day or two that you’re out.  Fluency lessons and review lessons are great options.

If your district doesn’t have a particular program, Kahn Academy is always great!
There are also several free activities on my math activity site.

Do Your Emergency Sub Plans Need to Be Digital?

If you’re teaching virtually, your sub plans may need to have a digital component. If it’s possible for students to print some of the math activities and interact on paper, I think that would be great.

However, students can still complete many of these suggested math sub plan activities on the computer. 

I hope you can use some of these ideas for your sub plans!
For more tips about handling sub days, listen in to the Substitutes in the Classroom podcast episode!

See all the resources discussed in this post in the Emergency Sub Plans Bundle!


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



Select to see on TPT

Select the image above to learn more!

Select to see on TPT
Select to see on TPT
Select to see on TPT
Select to see on TPT
truth or dare math games
Select to see on TPT
Select to access the free toolkit
Select to see on TPT
Select to see on TPT