Simple Ideas and Help for Emergency Spanish Sub Lesson Plans
Spanish sub lesson plans

Publication: Mar 8, 2020

Category: Teaching Spanish

Inside: Ideas and resources for creating Spanish sub lesson plans for emergencies or sick days.

As I sit down to write this post, many teachers are sharing that their schools or districts are asking them to prep Spanish sub lesson plans in case of a local Covid-19 (or Coronavirus) outbreak. While I hope you don’t need these ideas for that sort of scenario, the teacher life is always full of curveballs.

The title up there says “Easy Ideas for Spanish Sub Plans.” Okay, okay–  anybody who’s taught for two seconds is probably rolling their eyes. We all know making sub plans is the WORST… sometimes even worse than going in sick! But I did try really hard to find the easiest options out there. 

These ideas will help you brainstorm for those times when you’re out sick or can’t meet with your students in person. They’re also helpful for when you need to set up an emergency lesson in case you won’t make it to school and can’t create specialized sub plans that day.

Related: Spanish Shows for Class, also: G and PG Movies for Spanish Class

Spanish Sub Lesson Plans

Here’s a quick overview of the ideas I’m including. If you are looking for something specific, you can click the link to jump to that section:


If your school is looking for you to hold regular-ish sorts of classes, these resources can help you plan. They allow the students meet with you virtually (live or with something pre-recorded), or complete virtual assignments which you can track from home. Here is a spreadsheet with a running list of digital learning platforms offering free services in lieu of Covid-19.

Some of you are probably feeling overwhelmed just looking at all these tech options (I get it!). No worries- Jen Shaw just published a post outlining the top four EdTech tools for WL teachers, will detailed ideas on how to use each one. Start there if the list below feels like overload.

Tech tools and sites for uploading video lessons created by you:

  • Screencastify: With this, you can record yourself teaching lessons and record a Google Slides presentation. (Free for Google Chrome)
  • TeachVid: Upload videos of lessons and create a transcript in which students complete activities based on the lesson.
  • EdPuzzle: Use this when recording your own lessons or with any video, and create activities for your students to complete.
    (For both TeachVid and EdPuzzle, you can also access lessons created by fellow teachers.)
  • Seesaw: Another platform for creating digital lessons and allowing students to answer through videos.
  • ClassKick: Create lessons with videos or visuals, and then watch in real time as students respond with drawings, text, or audio.
  • Kahoot: A game site that allows you to quiz the students for fun practice. If you are conducting an online, realtime class, you can use this during your virtual meet-up. (In response to Coronavirus, Kahoot is offering all of its premium features for free.)
  • Zoom: While you can use Google Hangouts for virtual classes, Zoom is a much slicker and user-friendly platform. You can manipulate text, include images, use a digital whiteboard, and record for any students who miss the session. Here’s a good tutorial if you’re learning how to use it:

Try these free options for assigning specific activities or practice at home, in response to a teacher-created lesson:

  • Flipgrid: This is a user-friendly tool in which students can record themselves speaking and send it to you. They can also interact between themselves using the platform.
  • Quizlet: Create sets of vocabulary for students to practice and play games with, and track which students have complete activities (just make sure they’re logged in!).
  • Peardeck: Spice up your Google Slides Presentation by adding formative assessment and interactive questions for students to answer virtually.
  • Gimkit: Use this to create and gamify questions which students can answer and set up to be graded automatically.

If you’re using Gimkit with students, here’s a tutorial created by a Spanish teacher you can use for them:


There are quite a few teacher and companies pulling together resources to get through the next weeks of distance learning. For those of you who can use tech-based lessons, here’s a list of what I have found so far:




If you assign something from Netflix (here’s a list of Spanish series for students), it’s now possible to set up a watching party and watch together.

If you choose something like Podcasts, YouTube, or apps, you can also create some choices for how students will let you know that they’ve completed the work.

Also, although specific questions can sometimes work as proof of completion, it’s always possible students will simply send each other the answers. You might consider something more personalized like 5 new words learned, a brief summary, favorite/least favorite part.

And of course, be aware that if ask for written responses in Spanish, the temptation is huge for students to use online translators (and you might waste a lot of time try to figure out who used them). Under these circumstances, you could choose to have students submit a verbal response through Flipgrid. It may also be a better use of your time to provide comprehensible input in Spanish, and ask for English responses to demonstrate comprehension.


For some districts, you won’t be allowed to assign anything involving technology. The goal here is to assign the students useful work without creating a TON of grading for when you get back.

Non-Tech Resources Created with Covid-19 in Mind:

Here are some more ideas using stories or texts:

  • Type up some comprehensible class stories or texts and create questions or give some choice for an assignment after reading. I have a set of choice boards you can download for free, for students to respond and demonstrate comprehension. (This option will help reinforce exactly what you’ve been working on in class of course.) I like activities that have the students slightly rework the text, add to it, or draw so their main focus is on reading and comprehension.You can have them re-write the text from another perspective or in another settings, turn it into a cartoon, or summarize in half the space.
  • Here are 3 Editable Readings in Spanish.
  • If you send students home with novels to readhere is a cool Google Doc journal for students to complete as they read their books (from Noemi Gallega).
  • Here’s a Comic Crunch Board for students reading a novel at home (includes a rubric for grading).
  • If you need something quick for novices, I also have a free fable that includes the story text and activities. 

If you’d like to assign a project, try these:

  • Novices could do an all-about-me project involving the super seven verbs – soy, estoy, me gusta, tengo, quiero, voy a, and hay. (Or it could be about them a child, and completed in the past tense.) It could be a booklet or poster that combines text and illustrations. You can assign for a grade, or you could gather them when everyone is back at school, read aloud, and do a guessing activity to see who is being described. Students could also choose a celebrity to describe.
  • For cultural projects, check out this list of project options and suggestions, done for you!
  • Assign an illustrated dictionary booklet. Too simple? Maybe, but if you are scrambling and want to reinforce certain vocabulary or content, it’s a meaningful assignment. Doing projects by hand is good for long-term memory.
  • Here’s a writing about animals activity with notes for students.

To teach more specific grammar features or traditional units:

  • El Libro de Español was created by a teacher and is PACKED with printable resources to fit most typical units for Spanish 1, 2, and 3. If you are hoping to create a printable packet of work, definitely check this out.


Above, I was imagining scenarios in which no one can come to school (i.e., district closes down due to Covid-19). Most of the time, though, you’re looking for Spanish sub lesson plans because you’re sick or need a personal day. The suggestions above still apply, but here are some ideas that involve being in class or working in groups.

I know it’s so much work coming up with plans, it might seem easier to go in! These ideas are meant to be easy, low-prep, and simple for the sub to manage:

  • Battleship Verbs in Spanish (free printable): Battleship has always, always been a hit with my students. I do conjugations sparingly, but a day with a sub is perfect for this. You can fill in any verbs, in any tense. It usually takes at least 30 minutes for students in pairs to complete the game. Just make sure your students have played before and know what to do.
  • Students create illustrated Bingo games and play. Type up a quick list of 24 vocabulary terms (or complete phrases/sentences) and print out these blank Bingo boards. The students create their boards by reading the list and illustrating each of the 24 boxes. It actually takes a while to complete all 24, and leaves just enough time to play a few rounds in an hour-long period. Old-fashioned? Yes. A hit with both old and young students? Yup.
  • Students create a set of Go Fish cards and play. Provide a list of terms, paper, and pens/pencils/markers/scissors. Have groups of 4-6 create game sets with a time limit. Then groups can play Go Fish or Memory with the cards.

Planning to show a movie? Keep students accountable and make it more meaningful with my editable graphic organizers and guides that can be adapted for any book, text, show, or movie.


Many of the ideas above could work even if your sub doesn’t speak Spanish. Though the Go Fish games could work for a well-behaved group, for example, the sub won’t really be able to tell if students’ speaking is on task or not!

So here are some tips specifically for when you have a non-Spanish-speaking substitute:

  • Have students work quietly with vocabulary lists. You could leave a choice board for what to do with the vocabulary: create crossword puzzles, word searches, cartoons, illustrated booklets, etc. They can create clues with pictures or sentences. If you will be out for several days, the top puzzles can be copied and given out for the students to solve.
  • Leave some stories or texts for students to read quietly and respond to.
  • If you are reading any novels in class or doing FVR (free voluntary reading), students can create smashdoodles (free rubric) or cartoon summaries of a few chapters. 
  • If you are ever planning to assign cultural projects in English, now’s your chance! I have a free set of cards to work on Spanish-speaking countries and capitals here.

What ideas do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

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Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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