Sub Plans for the Elementary Computer Lab

Sub Plans for the Elementary Computer Lab
Whether you’re out sick or have a planned day out of the computer lab, writing sub plans is time consuming and often stressful. Technology teachers have a unique set of challenges to consider when deciding what to leave for a sub.
This blog post will hopefully give you some solid ideas and peace of mind for the next time you need to be out.
I have this other blog post about Technology Tools for Sub Plans with ideas and tools to help your sub be more comfortable using technology. Today’s post is going to assume you have a substitute who is not comfortable using or teaching technology. You can skip right to idea #3 if your substitute cannot use any technology.
All of the images are linked to the resource if you’re interested. Just click or tap to learn more.

1. Sub Plan Idea #1: Continue projects or units already happening

If you’re already into your school year a bit and have your procedures established, the computer lab should be able to run pretty seamlessly without you. Most students will know how to get to the class website and keep working on projects or units that they have already started.
This is one of the major benefits of having a class website or using a pre-made curriculum like my elementary technology curriculum. Leaving sub plans when you can just say something like “1st grade lesson 17 on” is a breeze!
Students will be able to be self-directed and not require much input from the sub. You can have “techspert” students help any other students who need it.

2. Sub Plan Idea #2: Review something students have already done

I’m going to recommend Digital Pixel Art for this. Do one at the beginning of the school year and then have the rest on hand for days you need to be out. That way students are still getting practice on their tech skills, but there is no tech knowledge needed by the substitute.
The “Everyday Bundle” is really good for this because then it doesn’t matter what time of year the lesson is done. There are 4 levels of challenge that makes it great for all grade levels K-5.
Again you can have a few student techsperts in each class to help the other students so that the substitute doesn’t have to. The sub can just manage behaviors.

3. Sub Plan Idea #3: Unplugged Technology Activities

This one is probably the reason why you clicked to read this blog post. Most computer lab teachers don’t even want students to use technology when they can’t be there to lead. I have plenty of ideas for you so that your students can still have a productive day. 

Tech Themed Picture Books:
Have your sub start each class by reading one of these great tech themed picture books. All are great for K-5. 

This should take up about half of the class time. If you have a tough group on the day you’re out, you can leave a coloring page for the students to complete at their seats while the book is being read. 
The next activity I’ll suggest is unplugged technology centers. I’ll start with ideas for your youngest students and then progress to things your older students can do. 
File Folder Keyboards
Yes the prep time on these is a bit intense, so this is something you’ll want to already have done before you need to be out. It is a great idea to have introduced your students to these file folder keyboards before you leave them for a sub. They make a great warm up or early finisher activity too, so having a class set of these serves many purposes. 
Typing Practice Printable Keyboard Pages
Any grade level can color in printed keyboards. You can turn this into a whole group activity by calling out a color and a letter and having students color it in one key at a time. Most substitutes should feel comfortable leading this activity.
Technology Themed Coloring Pages
Standard coloring pages here. Having coloring pages on hand is always a good idea, but some administrators frown on them being left for substitutes. There isn’t much educational value without a conversation or reflection, which some subs won’t be able to lead.
Fill in the Keyboards
Can you tell yet that I like to leave keyboard activities for the sub? There is never too much keyboard practice/review and it works for every grade level! These fill in the keys keyboards do need to be prepped ahead of time if you want them to be on a ring and laminated to use with dry or wet erase markers. They are great to keep on hand for early finishers and students who lose technology privileges too.
 Technology Vocabulary Term Word Searches
Gotta love a printable worksheet with a purpose! These word searches are intense and should take students a long time to complete. I laminate a class set so that they can be used over and over again with a dry or wet erase marker.
Crack the Code Puzzles for Technology Class
I prep these the same way I do the word searches. Students don’t even realize that they are learning computer languages. They just think they are doing decoding puzzles, which are familiar from math class. I have pairs of students share the Converter Keys so that it saves on paper.
Coding Quests Printable Board Games
If you know you have a substitute who doesn’t mind a little noise then these printable board games could be the way to go! Of course you’ll have to prep them ahead of time and it is a good idea to have your students play at least once before leaving this as sub plans.
You could set any of these activities up as stations and have students move through them (even the picture books could be their own center if you have space for a classroom library).

Emergency Sub Plans

Are you required to have a set of plans on hand for emergencies? I think it is pretty typical for admin to require this.
Once I’m at least a month into the school year, I rely on my digital emergency sub plans  that are part of my curriculum already. Students know what to do because it is all website they are familiar with already.
Otherwise, I leave this document with the front office for true emergencies.
You can change out the book to whatever you have available in your computer lab. It should probably be something you own otherwise the media specialist will likely be annoyed with you for checking out a book for the whole year.
Well there you have it. These ideas should get you through a handful of days that you need to be out of the computer lab. Thanks for reading!
Sub Plans for the Elementary Computer Lab

Emergency sub plans for tech class!

♬ happier – Olivia Rodrigo

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