5 no-prep lesson ideas for supply teachers

Supply teachers save the day! They cover classes for long-term placements whilst vacancies are filled and jump into the class teacher's shoes when they are ill or absent to maintain a high quality of education for pupils. Supply teaching can be last minute, so the absent teacher may not always set high-quality work. This can leave your lessons vulnerable to disruptive behaviour and wasted learning time.

But you may have chosen to work as a supply teacher for the reduction in paperwork and planning demands, right? So how can you protect your time from the classroom whilst delivering high-quality lessons without planning?

The Institute of Supply Teachers (take a look at who we are and what we are about) shares 5 non-prep lesson ideas to fill lesson time whilst making good progress towards learning outcomes.


Top tips for supply teachers

The Institute of Supply Teachers has free CPD training for supply teachers, accessible through the Teacher Learning Camp (TLC). Covering a wide range of topics from behaviour management to those important top tips for a smooth supply placement. One top tip covered in the online training is to get there on time (we share important documents and information you should read to be prepared in an emergency).

5 no-prep lesson ideas for supply teachers

It is always useful to have engaging and fun lesson ideas up your sleeve, open ended activities that require no planning, resources, and can be extended easily. We suggest familiarising yourself with the 5 supply teacher lesson ideas below before your next placement.

1. Fact or adjective swordfights can be altered for any subject, Key Stage and class size. Using fingers as swords, the children can build their fact base or vocabulary knowledge with a partner. For example, let’s say the learning objective is to discuss synonyms. The children have completed the worksheet left for them, next they partner up and battle for the position of top adjective swordsmith. Big will be combatted with large, then topped by huge… and so on.

2. Snowball questions are a great activity for those classes that need an energy boost. It can be completed in small groups or whole class (refresh your behaviour management skills to facilitate a calm working environment). The class will be given small pieces of paper and can write a question, a fact or a story starter on their paper. Scrunch the paper up and on the count of three, fire into the air. When the pupils have their new question, fact, or story idea they can let their imagination run wild.

3. Open-ended questions can extend learning easily whilst assessing the security of the pupil’s knowledge. Adaptable for all subjects, an open-ended question requires no planning or resources. Let’s look at Mathematics; by giving a student the answer of 48, ask what the possibilities could be for the question. 6 x 8, 45 + 3, 15 + 16 + 17.

4. Two truths and a lie can be thought-provoking tasks that serve as an assessment activity in tandem. Once the set work is completed, ask the children to create 2 truths and a lie linked to the learning objectives, they must know the content well to create a lie that won’t be immediately obvious. For example, one of the facts below is incorrect (the answer is at the bottom of this article).

  1. A day on Venus is longer than an Earth year.
  2. Venus spins anticlockwise on its axis.
  3. Venus is hotter than Mercury.

5. Write or make the odd one out; this activity can be tailored to any subject, including practical subjects like Art! The pupils will think about the learning objective for the lesson and create an odd one out. For Art it may be the focus was shading in monochrome; 2 drawings in monochrome and 1 in pastel colours would work as an ‘odd one out’ activity.

Access free supply teacher CPD from IoST via the Teaching Learning Camp (TLC) today.

ANSWER: B- Venus spins clockwise on its axis.