Subbing Special Classes Guide for the Substitute Teacher (page 2)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 14, 2011

What if I am Asked to Sub for the Art Teacher?

Some of us can draw realistic portraits that result in oohs and aahs from everyone who sees them. Others have trouble drawing a good stick figure. The good news is that even the artistically impaired can sub effectively in an art class.

Most art teachers have special plans for subs. The projects require simple tools, usually crayons and paper for younger children and pencil sketching for older students. Regardless of the simplicity of the project, be sure to set guidelines at the beginning of each class. Explain the project clearly, define what the students are supposed to create, and establish a procedure for handing out and collecting supplies. Write all directions on the board.

But what if there is no sub plan? That’s why I always keep a few how-to-draw books in my personal bag of tricks. For primary classes, I show the children how to make a cat, horse, or cartoon character. Using the simple steps shown in the book, I draw each step on the board and have the children follow my lead. When they are finished, they can color their pictures or make more. I encourage them to keep practicing until they master the technique. For older children, you might try one or more of these ideas:

  • Have the students draw pictures of their rooms at home. See how many details they can remember. Then ask them to add some things that they wish they could have in their rooms.
  • Bring in a print or painting done by a famous artist with a distinctive style (Georgia O’Keeffe, Vincent van Gogh, Norman Rockwell). Promote discussion about the masterpiece. Why is it famous? Discuss brush stroke, lighting, and shadows. Using the artist’s style, have the students try to create their own works of art.
  • Have students create a CD cover for their favorite musical group.
  • Ask students to design a cool pair of sneakers with a unique brand logo.
  • Have students do a graphic design for their favorite website.

Students of every age tend to love art class. Everyone has a creative side, and you can help students expand their potential creativity.

What if I am Asked to Sub for the Music Teacher?

Each time I’ve subbed for music in elementary grades, I’ve been told to show a video of a famous musical such as Peter and the Wolf or a Disney classic. This might work well, but in some cases, the children have seen the video many times, and they become bored quickly.

As an alternative to the video approach, here are a few ideas to add to the typical music sub plans for elementary grades:

  • Write the words to a patriotic song on the board. Discuss each line. Ask students to choose one line that has meaning for them and illustrate it with a drawing. One example is the line “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam.” If you have a CD player, play the song while the students are drawing.
  • Play a CD from a popular Disney musical and have students draw a picture of their favorite character or scene.
  • Have children work in pairs or work alone to write a rap song about their school. Have them perform the song at the end of the period.
  • Create rhythm patterns—you clap a rhythm and students copy it. Make the rhythm more complex each time. Finally, ask a talented student to lead. Repeat until all students have a turn to lead.
  • Clap your name—have students say their first and last names and then clap the syllables to make a rhythm.
  • Have students choose their favorite breakfast cereal and write a jingle for a TV commercial for it. They can present their jingles to the class.
  • If you have time in advance, make up a word search with musical terms such as treble, bass, clef, piano, trumpet, orchestra, soprano, alto, tenor, and band.
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