Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Math Sub Plans Survival Guide: Navigating Unplanned Classes

Creating math sub plans class or subbing for a math class doesn't have to be overwhelming or complicated with these easy to follow tips, tricks and math sub plans to help you survive an unplanned absence.

You stroll into a classroom, ready to tackle the day’s math class as a substitute teacher, only to find. . . nothing. There’s no lesson plan in sight, or worse, the one you do find can likely be finished in less than half the class time. The worry about how to keep the students engaged looms large. Don’t sweat it! We’re going to chat about how to handle those unexpected, plan-less moments like a pro. We’ll chat about the art of being prepared for the unpredictable so you’re always prepared with the tricks to rock a math class. So, let’s dive in and discover how to be prepared for those moments when you might need emergency math sub plans. In the world of substitute teaching, preparation is your greatest ally.

Being Prepared with Math Sub Plans

Picture this: you’re all set to hit the road on a cross-country journey. You’ve got your car, snacks, playlist, and a well-prepared route on your GPS. You’re confident you’ll reach your destination, right? What if you had no roadmap or GPS? That road trip suddenly turns into a wild adventure filled with uncertainty and detours.

Getting and keeping your math sub plans in order will not only be super beneficial to you but to your sub as well.

Being a substitute teacher is a bit like embarking on a daily adventure to an unknown place. Having some ready-to-use math sub plans in your substitute teacher toolbox is your trusty GPS. Sure, the classroom teacher is supposed to leave plans, but we all know that life happens. By having your own stocked toolbox you will be prepared for the unexpected.

But here’s where it gets even more magical: your preparation doesn’t just benefit you. It’s a gift to your students too. As the captain of their learning ship for the day, you set the course. With well-prepared math sub plans, you create a smooth, engaging, and productive learning environment – even if the regular teacher’s plans have taken an unexpected detour!

So, think of your math sub plans as your life jacket. No matter what you can confidently walk into a class knowing that you have a plan that will keep the students engaged and learning.

Emergency Math Sub Plans: When Life Throws You a Curveball

Now, why are these emergency sub plans so essential? You just might walk into a classroom that has no plans at all. Panic mode, right? Not when you have your own. What about plans that don’t fill the class time? Just let them talk? Not when you have your own backup. Or. . . what about the situation when students just aren’t engaged or the topic is beyond your math knowledge? That’s where your emergency lesson plans come to the rescue.

Having these plans ready means you’re armed with a backup that can save the day. Lessons you are familiar with that your students will love. You might not need them every time you sub, but when you do, you will be so glad to have them.

Uses these Emergency Math Sub Plans for middle school packed full of problem solving activities, puzzles, and printable color by number no prep pages to add to your sub folder this year.

So, what should these emergency math sub-plans look like? They’re simple, effective, and engaging math-related activities that you can whip out at a moment’s notice. Think of them as your bag of tricks, ready to entertain and educate.

I have created Emergency Sub Plans for Middle School Math to help you be prepared for those moments when you need time fillers or even a whole lesson! You have the flexibility to create lessons featuring captivating Math Dates number puzzles, color-by-number sheets, and problem-solving pages. Mix and match a couple of sheets with your existing lesson plans. This comprehensive math sub plans bundle includes four different resources, boasting over 70 distinct activities.

And. . . if you happen to have landed here as a classroom teacher and not a substitute, these emergency plans can be used by you too! Just leave them for your substitute and know that they will be well equipped with fun and engaging activities that will keep your students working on key math skills.

What’s Included in the Emergency Math Sub Plans?

Problem-Solving for 5th – 6th Grades

First, a treasure trove of 28 problem-solving pages that present various real-world situations. Each situation challenges students with a set of 3-4 word problems. They cover a range of topics from decimal operations to measurement conversions, all accompanied by detailed answer keys and two different answer sheet options.

Problem-Solving for 6th – 7th Grades

Next, we have 10 problem-solving sheets with answer keys. These sheets tackle topics such as ratios, unit rates, algebraic equations, percentages, integers, surface area, and more, making them an ideal fit for upper-level students.

Color by Number Activities

The Color by Number activities bring a burst of fun into math learning with 12 captivating color-by-number sheets. Each one has 10 questions that span a mix of concepts generally suited for 5th-6th graders. These questions range from multiplication and division to LCM, GCF, proportions, exponential expressions, and much more.

Math Dates Number Puzzles

Lastly, the Math Dates Number Puzzles add an intriguing historical twist to math practice. You’ll discover 12 Math Dates in History Find-a-Number, 5 Mixed Math Dates Find-a-Number, and 5 Mixed Math Dates Cross-Number puzzles. These puzzles dive into concepts like square roots, cube roots, exponents and exponent rules, order of operations, fraction and decimal operations, absolute value, and even more.

So, whether you’re planning ahead or dealing with the unexpected, these resources have got you covered. They not only keep students engaged but also offer valuable review opportunities, ensuring that learning never takes a back seat, even when you’re not in the driver’s seat of the classroom.

Utilizing Online Resources for Your Math Sub Plans

Whether it’s using a tablet, a laptop, or even a smartphone, technology can be a game-changer for teaching an unplanned math class.

Digital activities like these are perfect for your math sub plans because your substitute teacher can pull them any time during the day and use them with ease.

You’re in a classroom, and the lesson plan isn’t cutting it, or maybe you don’t even have a lesson plan left for you. That’s when technology swoops in to save the day. You can quickly pull up math apps, educational YouTube videos, or even access online math games. It’s like having a teaching wizard in your pocket.

I have free digital games ready for your students to access at Cognitive Cardio Math Activities! These games review topics from absolute value to finding the mean, median, mode, and range. My students love practicing their math skills because of their game-like nature!

Technology also offers flexibility. You can adapt on the fly, finding resources that suit your students’ needs in real time. Plus, it keeps students engaged – they’re used to screens, so why not use that to your advantage?

The online world and technology are your allies in the quest for math class success!

So whether you use these free online games as your lesson, or as an enticement for completing another assignment – your students will love them! Grab these free QR Codes that you can print or project to make accessing the free games a snap!

Flexibility and Adaptability are Two Keys to Successful Math Sub Plans

Let’s talk about a couple of superpowers you need in your collection – flexibility and adaptability. Trust me, they’re your secret sauce when the provided lesson plan decides to play hide-and-seek.

1. When Plans Fall Short: The Importance of Adaptability

So, you’re all prepped up with your lesson plan in hand, ready to rock that math class. But lo and behold, the plan is shorter than a tweet, and you’ve got an ocean of class time left. Panic mode? Nah, that’s not your style.

Here’s where adaptability comes into play. Instead of dwelling on what’s missing, you roll with the punches. You see that extra time as an opportunity, not a problem. Maybe you dive deeper into a topic, throw in some bonus math challenges, or encourage class discussions. Flexibility means you can adjust on the fly, ensuring that every minute is a valuable learning experience.

2. Strategies for Staying Engaging

Now, let’s chat about keeping those students engaged. When your original plan wraps up early, it’s your time to shine. Here are a couple of strategies to keep the classroom energy buzzing:

No prep activity pages like these are lifesavers for you and your substitute when you include them in your math sub plans.
  • Math Puzzles and Challenges: Go back to that stash of ready-to-use math puzzles and activities that you have at the ready. Who can solve it first? Pair the students up, and see which team can solve all of them first!
  • Real-Life Math: Connect math to real life. Bring in some fun examples from the world outside the classroom. Math is everywhere, from cooking recipes to sports stats.
  • Peer Teaching: Let students become the teachers for a bit. Pair them up and have them explain a concept to their peers. It’s a win-win – they learn, and you get a breather.

For more ideas on activities to prepare for your next substituting gig, check out Emergency Math Sub Plans for Middle School!

Remember, adaptability is the key. Instead of stressing about unplanned moments, embrace them as opportunities to make the math class even more exciting and engaging.

Building Confidence to Implement Math Sub Plans

Teaching math can sometimes feel like dancing on a tightrope over a pit of equations. You’ve got all it takes to be a math-teaching superstar sub, and it all starts with building your confidence.

1. Embrace Your Inner Math Whiz

First things first, you’ve got to embrace your inner math whiz. Remember, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in mathematics to teach effectively. Your enthusiasm and willingness to learn alongside your students will start a ripple effect on your students.

2. Learn from the Masters (and Mistakes)

Confidence grows with knowledge. So, keep learning and improving your math skills. Dive into math resources, take online courses, and seek advice from experienced teachers. And yes, it’s okay to make mistakes. Every teaching day is a learning day. Every class you sub for is going to be different. Long-term subbing has its perks over the short-term subbing of a day or 2. Share your successes and even those classroom bloopers with fellow teachers. It’s how we all get better.

3. Personal Anecdotes: Confidence Boosters

If there is one thing my teaching experience has taught me it is this – when I enthusiastically dive into the topic headfirst, using real-life examples, the students not only enjoy it but they also excel in the lesson. I realized that confidence is contagious. When you believe in your ability to teach, your students will too.

4. Celebrate Small Wins

Confidence isn’t built overnight. It’s a journey of small wins and occasional challenges. We all have been there after a long day subbing a class that thought it was recess all day. So, celebrate every small victory. When a student finally “gets it” or the class is buzzing with excitement, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You’re making a difference.

Classroom Management Tips for Math Sub Plans

Whether you’re walking into a classroom with a rock-solid plan or just a glimmer of one, these classroom management tips will help you steer the ship like a pro.

1. The Art of Classroom Management

Think of classroom management as your tool for maintaining harmony and guiding your students on their educational journey. You’ll be using your skills to strike that perfect balance between structure and creativity in the classroom.

Maintaining order is a delicate balancing act. You create a calm and organized environment where students know what’s expected of them. When you’ve got that down, you’re free to focus on the fun part – keeping students engaged.

You use your enthusiasm and creative teaching techniques to capture their attention and curiosity. It’s all about making learning feel like an exciting adventure, not a chore.

Creating a productive learning atmosphere? It’s where students feel safe, supported, and encouraged to explore the wonders of math. It’s where their questions are welcomed, their contributions are valued, and their potential is unleashed.

Want to know a secret? It’s not about being all-knowing from day one; it’s about continuous learning and growth. With practice and patience, you’ll find that classroom management isn’t just a skill. It’s a force that empowers you to become the teacher your students will always remember.

2. Keep It Positive and Friendly

Imagine stepping into the classroom like you’re walking into a grand, mysterious castle, and you’ve got the treasure map. That’s the kind of excitement and energy you want to bring. As you walk through that door, your smile becomes the golden key that unlocks the door to a world of learning.

You’re not just a substitute teacher but a guest expert who’s about to take these young minds on an incredible math journey. You’re a math wizard with a bag full of tricks and the ability to turn numbers and equations into magical discoveries.

Setting a positive tone from the very beginning is like laying out a welcoming red carpet. When your students see your smile and feel your warmth, it’s an invitation to join you on this math adventure. It tells them, “Hey, we’re in this together, and we’re going to have an amazing time.”

Your friendly vibe isn’t just about making you likable. It’s about creating an environment where students feel safe, comfortable, and excited to learn. When they sense your enthusiasm and approachability, they’re more likely to open up, ask questions, and actively participate.

3. Establish Clear Expectations in Math Sub Plans

Think of clear expectations as the roadmap to a successful journey. When you’re heading somewhere new, you need directions, right? The same goes for your classroom.

Setting those ground rules right from the start is giving them a trusty map. It tells them what to expect on this educational journey, what behaviors are encouraged, and how they can be active participants. It’s not about stifling their creativity or making the classroom feel like a strict regime. Instead, it’s about creating a safe and respectful space where everyone can thrive.

Now, when you’re clear about what you expect in terms of behavior, it’s like setting the boundaries on a playground. You’re saying, “Here’s how we’re going to play together nicely.” And trust me, students appreciate that. It removes the uncertainty and helps them feel secure, which, in turn, leads to better engagement and learning.

Participation? Let them know that their thoughts, questions, and ideas are not only welcomed but cherished. When students understand that their voices matter, they’re more likely to actively participate in discussions and activities.

And respect? That’s the glue that holds everything together. It’s about treating each other kindly, listening when someone’s speaking, and valuing everyone’s unique perspective. When respect becomes the classroom currency, you create an environment where students feel valued and supported.

4. Be Firm but Fair

Being firm doesn’t mean you have to morph into a stern-faced drill sergeant, barking orders and striking fear into your students’ hearts. That’s not the vibe we’re going for. Instead, think of being firm as being the guiding lighthouse, showing your students the way with unwavering confidence.

When you enforce the rules consistently and fairly, you’re creating a sense of order and predictability in your classroom. Everyone knows where they’re headed. Students can relax because they know what to expect.

When you’re firm but fair, you’re sending a message that you respect your students’ time and potential. You’re saying, “I’m here to help you learn and succeed.” Students pick up on that. They see that you’re not just about rules. You genuinely care about their growth and development.

Consistency is the key here. Always there, always reliable. When you apply the rules consistently and treat all students fairly, it builds trust. They know you’re not playing favorites, and that’s crucial in creating a positive classroom atmosphere.

Being firm but fair isn’t about being the tough guy or gal in the room. When they see that you mean business but also genuinely care about their learning, they’ll respect you for it.

5. Engage, Engage, Engage

When your students are excited and involved, you’re on your way to a fantastic learning journey.

Sometimes, the math sub plans you’re handed feel like they belong in a museum. It’s not connecting with your students, and the enthusiasm levels are closer to zero than infinity. No worries; it’s your time to shine.

Think on your feet. It’s like being the star of an improvisational show. Ask questions that make them ponder, and not just any questions – the kind that sparks curiosity and encourages critical thinking. Discussions are your secret. When students talk and share, they’re not just passive listeners. They’re active participants in the learning journey.

Make math relatable to their lives. Connect those seemingly abstract numbers and equations to their everyday experiences. Math isn’t just about solving problems on a piece of paper. It’s a tool for understanding the world around them. Show them how math is the language of science, technology, and even art.

For instance, bring in real-world examples. Talk about how math is used in sports stats, in cooking recipes, or even in building their favorite video games. Suddenly, math isn’t that intimidating!

And when all else fails. . . turn it into a game. Students of all ages love playing a game. So whether you divide them into teams that will earn points for answering questions or play a game of teach the teacher – you are sure to up the engagement factor with the mere mention of the word “game.”

6. Handle Challenges with Grace

Alright, let’s be real for a moment. Teaching isn’t always smooth sailing. Sometimes, you hit a few rough waves. It’s like navigating through an especially rocky storm at sea.

A student starts acting out, disrupting the class like a mischievous wind stirring up chaos. Or maybe a question comes your way that feels like a math puzzle from another dimension – you’re not quite sure how to solve it. It happens to the best of us.

In those moments, the most important thing you can do is stay calm. Think of it as the eye of the storm, that tranquil center where you gather your thoughts and make a plan.

Address the issue calmly and directly. With disruptive behavior, let the student know that their actions aren’t acceptable, but do so with kindness and understanding. Sometimes, there might be underlying reasons for their behavior, and a gentle approach can work wonders.

And as for that tricky question, it’s okay not to have all the answers. You’re a teacher, not a walking math encyclopedia. Admit that you’re not sure, and turn it into a learning opportunity. You can say something like, “That’s an excellent question! Let’s explore it together.” It shows students that it’s okay not to know everything and that learning is an ongoing journey.

7. Seek Help When Needed

Teaching isn’t a solitary journey, but really, it’s a team sport. Think of it like a relay race, with each teacher passing the baton to the next. But sometimes, you hit a hurdle or two, and that’s when you need to call in reinforcements.

You’re in the classroom, and a situation arises that leaves you scratching your head. It could be a particularly challenging behavior issue, a complex student concern, or a teaching challenge that feels like a maze with no exit.

In those moments, remember that you’re not alone on this educational expedition. The regular teacher and the school staff are your trusty teammates, standing by to offer support and guidance.

Reaching out for assistance isn’t a sign of weakness. It demonstrates your dedication to providing the best possible learning experience for your students. It shows that you care deeply about their well-being and also their educational journey.

So, don’t hesitate to send an email, make a phone call, or pop your head into the staffroom. Share your concerns, ask for advice, and tap into the collective wisdom of your educational community. More often than not, you’ll find that others have faced similar challenges and can offer valuable insights and solutions.

Remember, my fellow educators, it takes a village to educate and nurture young minds. We’re all in this together, supporting one another on this incredible journey of teaching. So, if you ever find yourself in need of a helping hand, don’t be shy – reach out.

Get Your Math Sub Plans Now Before Entering the Classroom!

As mentioned earlier, make sure to grab your emergency math sub plans! This versatile resource is packed with engaging activities that will keep students on track when you can’t be in the classroom. Have these prepped and ready to go in case you walk into a classroom that does not have a lesson plan to greet you! Whether it’s a planned absence or a sudden emergency, these no-prep resources are your go-to solution. What’s even better? Many of the concepts covered in these activities serve as fantastic review material for your students.

And. . . don’t forget to grab your Free QR Codes so your students can quickly and easily access the free online math games.

You’ve Got This!

So, there you have it, fellow substitute teachers – your Math Sub Plans Survival Guide. We’ve journeyed through the importance of preparation, the power of communication, and the art of adaptability. We’ve explored resources to keep your emergency math sub plans ready and engaging.

Teaching math, especially in those unexpected moments, can be like embarking on a thrilling adventure. With the right tools and mindset, you’ll be able to guide your students through the math seas.

Remember, you’ve got the skills, the passion, and a treasure trove of resources at your fingertips too. Whether it’s making math relatable to their lives, handling challenging moments with grace, or seeking support when needed. You’re equipped to make a difference in those classrooms, one math problem at a time.

So, the next time you walk into a math class with no specific plans or plans that need a little extra oomph, embrace the challenge.

Smile, set clear expectations, be firm but fair, and keep those students engaged in the fascinating world of numbers.

And if you ever find yourself in uncharted waters, remember that teaching is a team effort. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other teachers or school staff for support – they’ve got your back.

So, here’s to the substitute teachers who step into the unknown with enthusiasm and a passion for teaching. Happy teaching, and may your math classes be filled with discovery, curiosity, and respectful engagement!

Save for Later!

Lastly, remember to save the post to your favorite math Pinterest board to gather ideas to prepare for your next substitute teaching gig!


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!



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