Organize Your Perfect Sub Tub

Inside: Learn how to organize your sub tub, so you don’t need to stress about sub plans last minute ever again!

It’s no secret that having a sub in your room can be more work than just trudging through the day sick. This shouldn’t be the case, but many teachers don’t use their sick days for this very reason. By organizing your sub materials way before you need a guest teacher in your classroom, you’ll be more at ease and have a lot less work when you return. Check out how to organize your perfect sub tub with these easy tips.

Do you have a sub tub? Having an organized sub tub can help make taking days off so much easier! Check out these tips to get your substitute plans put together in a sub tub. Your sub plans will be ready to go! Perfect for emergency sub plans.Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Keep a binder of master copies.

This is a great tip regardless of whether or not you have a sub in your classroom. Kids may lose their homework or need to redo assignments to demonstrate understanding. Being able to pull a copy out of a binder instead of searching through physical or digital files is so much easier. This tip will make your sub’s day or days so much easier and protect your personal files. They’ll be no need for a sub to rifle through your file cabinet to find the copy they need. Plus, if you keep an answer key in the binders, your sub may just find some time to grade some student work for you. (Trust me, it does happen!)

Keep student copies organized in folders in a sub tub.

Get a container to put all of your sub plans in. (I used this cute one from Amazon). This will be your sub tub. Organize student copies by day of the week, time of day, or content area depending on your grade level and schedule. Put the lesson plans in the hanging file folders inside the sub tub. Let your sub know the schedule in your plans, and then all they will need to do is pull out the papers needed from the designated folders. Easy!

Add a folder for your sub at the front of the tub to include lesson plans. Additional folders may also be included. I love adding one for brain breaks or games. These can be used during transition times or for early finishers in the classroom.

Sub tub label freebie

I also like to create a “morning” folder and an “afternoon” folder. The sub can easily pull out what they need in the morning and again after lunch. And if you’re only gone for a half-day, they’ll just pull out the one they need!

Label where your sub tub is located clearly.

It does no good to have an organized sub tub if your substitute has no idea where to find it! Let your sub know where to find the organize your perfect sub tub by attaching a sub tub label. Get a label like the one pictured above in our Free Sub Planning Starter Kit.

Link to free sub planning starter kit

If you keep your sub tub in a cabinet, consider placing the label on the outside of the cabinet so it is easy to see. Having your materials placed in an organized fashion will help your sub and your students be prepared when you are gone from your classroom. You can also let some of your co-teachers know where your sub tub is located, just in case, your sub can’t find it!

Be prepared ahead of time with substitute notes and thank you cards

Leave notes for your substitute to let you know how to use your sub tub and the general flow of your day. You can also leave a note for the sub to fill out at the end of the day. This serves as a reminder to your sub to leave notes for you and helps you to know how the day went. It’s also a great idea to keep thank you notes on hand because we appreciate substitutes who give us the break that we need!

End of day form

Want to get your sub tub organized in the EASIEST way possible?

Putting together a complete sub tub from scratch can take a lot of time! Are you a work-smarter-not-harder kind of teacher? I’ve made Ready To Go Sub Plans JUST for you! Teachers have loved that these sub plans are literally print-and-go. Each set of Ready To Go Sub Plans includes an ELA lesson, reading lesson, writing lesson, science lesson, math review, math lesson, social studies lesson, brain break, art activity, and an educational game! The lesson plans are simple to follow, with engaging learning activities for the kids. Each set is guaranteed to last at least a full day. (You can also find these on TPT)!

When you grab the bundle of all 5 sets for your grade level, you’ll save 20% on your purchase AND get the sub tub bonus! And, by purchasing the bundle, you will get the sub tub organization bonus with a sub tub label, hanging file folder tabs, binder tabs, sub tub organization tips, and more! Check them out for your grade level below:

What have teachers had to say about Ready To Go Sub Plans?

Teachers LOVE how these sub plans take the stress out of sub planning, so you can take the days off without pressure. Check out what some teachers said about Ready To Go Sub Plans:

“I have purchased several sets of emergency sub plans, and they just never really fit my needs. These, however, are just what I’ve been looking for!! Easy prep, easy for the sub to follow! I recommend this to anyone needing emergency plans.”

“Amazing! I heard back from my sub today and she said that the kids LOVED the activities today and were so engaged! AMAZING quality and unbelievably thorough. I’ll never worry about making sub plans again!”

“I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this resource! Each day comes completely laid out, and walks a substitute through every step of the way! I will keep this forevvvvver!!!!!” 

As you can see, these sub plans have been a lifesaver to many teachers! I hope they can be a great resource for you as well. When you purchase these ahead of time, you can be well on your way to having a full sub tub prepared for the next time you need to take a last minute absence. Teachers work so hard, so you deserve to take a day off when needed without all of the stress.

You can also find my sub plans in my Teachers pay Teachers store!


Being absent can be stressful for you, your students, and a substitute teacher if you aren’t organized and prepared. Being able to organize your perfect sub tub will help everything run smoothly whether you’re out for a morning or a week! You can learn even more about preparing your sub plans in our comprehensive guide to emergency sub plans.

Sub Tub Items on Amazon- These are the items I use to put my bin together!

85 Responses

  1. This is great!!!! I never take time off! When my boys are sick, I just leave them home alone because they are old enough now…they’re in middle school, and I always feel guilty! Creating an amazing sub tub like this will give me peace of mind for when my boys (or myself) are sick! Thanks!

    1. No problem, Rachel! It is super helpful, especially as a mom because then you can just take the time off when those times come up.

  2. As a 2nd year teacher still trying to figure it all out, I love how thorough these sub plans are and all the tips you give to organize them! So helpful!

  3. Honestly I have always been excited to put together a sub tub, because I love crafty projects – however, the curriculum and worksheets for the tub was a completely different story. What can I leave that will actually get done? Your plans are not only wonderful to leave behind, but are amazing to learn from for a growing teacher! Thank you!

  4. I purchased this resource and absolutely LOVE IT!! It took time to get it ready but I don’t worry what will happen if I’m ever sick! My teammates can just pull it and the sub is fully prepared!

  5. As a SPED teacher working with several different students at different levels, this is a wonderful way to get ready for emergencies, or just for those days when I need a professional day for testing or meetings. Thanks for the freebie and the ideas! I used the freebie to create a sub binder. The sub tub is next on the list.

  6. I can’t wait to get started on my sub tub! I don’t take very many sick days because it is too much of a hassle, this will change once I have it out together. There won’t be as much stress.

  7. These sub binders and supplements are the easiest way to set up emergency sub plans for those days that you’re sick in bed. Everything is ready to go!

  8. As a current substitute teacher and someone who just graduated and about to start as a beginning teacher, I can say this resource is so helpful!!! Can’t wait to check out more!!!

  9. When I get sick, it’s normally very unannounced. So I need emergency plans to give to my teammates. Usually I have to rely on Chrome book work or work my team gets ready for me and it stresses me out. This will change everything!!!!!

  10. I love my Sub Binder! I have added information about specific medical needs in my room and details about the associates that help in my room and what they do throughout the day. Thanks so much for this great resource!

  11. Love the idea of thank you cards ready to go!!! I always leave a thank you, but a card is so much more heartfelt!

  12. I was brand new to regular education kindergarten this year (previously taught preschool and special education, K-2), so the task of creating a sub binder was quite interesting. This sub tub is a great addition to our required substitute binders. I’ll will definitely consider your tips and a sub tub for next year 🙂

  13. I love these tips. I need to get a bigger tub for my sub plans. I also like the idea of keeping a master copy. Thanks for the tips!

  14. Changing grade levels is always a challenge! But this resource removes the “what do I leave a sub” dilemma! Thank you!

    1. So true! In the past, I’ve had customers grab them for different grade levels when they’ve switched grades because they’d already used them in another grade and knew they’d like them. Thanks for stopping by, Kendi! 🙂

  15. I need to get this organized for my classroom. Then I went feel as stressed out when I need to take a last minute sick day.

  16. This is really great! I’ve used binders and folders before for a sub but never a tub like this I’ll have to look into getting one because I love the simplicity of it!

  17. Keeping master copies is such a smart idea that I totally have not been keeping up with. I always think I’ll just print it out yet, but perhaps along with new organizational methods come new routines.

  18. The sub container is so cute – I love it! It’s MUCH better than the copy paper box I’ve been using! Thank you! 🙂

  19. I love the idea of having a master copy binder. Therefore, not only if the sub needs more copies but I can just reprint and have for next year!

  20. I am changing grade levels next school year, these tips will be so handy to get things organized and ready for a sub.

  21. I just came across this website….and I am already obsessed! I have been subbing and am about to graduate and start teaching. I am putting all of these resources in my folder so I can be as organized as possible! These are absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to see what else I find here.

  22. I have a sub tub and a sub binder. If there’s ever an emergency I don’t need to worry as much. It’s such a big help. Thank you for all your products!

  23. I am so excited to find this site. You are a gem!! This will definitely help me become more organized as I go into the new year.
    Thank you!!

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Hey there, new teacher bestie! I’m Kelsey, and I created Wife Teacher Mommy just for YOU! I blog about teaching and create emergency sub planning resources to make your life easier. Be sure to sign up for my FREE sub plans here!

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