Jedi Music

A Resource for the Beginning Elementary Music Teacher


Substitute Planning...Do it while you're healthy!!

Back to school season is here again, and when setting up your classroom, please don't forget to plan ahead for the inevitable day when you might not make it to school because of illness.  Beginning teachers are especially prone to picking up sicknesses going around because they haven't built up an immunity.  So, your sick self is going to thank you sometime mid-winter when you don't have to haul yourself out of bed in sub-zero temps to get to school to set up for a sub!

When it comes to sub plans, keep it simple! Most of the time your sub will not be a music specialist, and will not feel comfortable picking up lessons where you left off.  My best sub plans include a music game or activity that anyone can teach, or a video that reinforces or extends concepts taught in music.

Here are some good activities to leave in your sub folder:

  • An easy option activity is for the students to have a "Greatest Hits" day.  They get to choose their favorite music from their music series for the sub to play on CD.
  • Music Bingo is a great activity for grades 3-6.  Concepts that can be reinforced with these games include lines and spaces, rhythm, melodies, instruments, composers, solfege, musical styles, and musical symbols. Just be sure to leave chips, cards, and access to a CD player.

  • Again from PBS, the Composer's Special DVD series gives a glimse into the lives of six famous composers. Titles include Bach's Fight for Freedom, Bizet's Dream, Liszt's Rhapsody, Strauss: King of Three Quarter Time, Rossini's Ghost, Handel's Last Chance.  These movies are appropriate for grades 4-6, as well as middle school grades.  They are a little long for our class periods (50 minutes), so you may watch 15-20 minutes on another day so the student's can see the end.

  • A dance video, such as Everybody Dance! is a fun activity for a sub. This is a good choice for grades K-2 in my school, just because space is limited.  If you could provide a large area, this would be a good activity for grades 3-6 as well.  This is a good activity because the students all have different levels of knowledge about the Macarena, Electric Slide, etc.
  • If you are lucky enough to have enough computers in your room to set up stations for online music games, or if you can reserve your school's computer lab for your class ahead of time, these online music education sites are great! Try for a listing of games and sites, and you can choose from these for grades K-6.
  • Even if you can't get the students online for games, there are still games that are simple and fun for a sub to facilitate.  Check out for ideas on simple music class games.
So, remember, don't delay....plan for your sub today! (and thank yourself later!)

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