Supply teaching would have to be the hardest job I have had as a teacher. The reason for this is that more often then not, you don’t know the students, the staff or how the school works. The curriculum left to work through by the normal teacher of the class can often be hard to teach and not engaging for the students. Then to add to all this you may only be told at 7:00am that morning where the school is and you have to follow the blue dot on Google maps to try and find the school!

In March 2010, I moved over to London with two other teaching friends of mine. We all signed up at teaching agency and we did supply teaching for five months. These five months were extremely hard, and it challenged my teaching in a way like nothing before.

I would normally walk into classes where I did not know even a single student. I found that the best way to get these students ‘onside’ was to play  4 icebreaker and team building games straight away. After these games I would have all the students’ respect and they would be ‘eating out of my hand’. Then, if I didn’t like the look of the photo copied sheets that the teacher had left me to use as cover, I would use one of these trusty crowd pleasers that cover multiple subjects through the curriculum. These were my golden tickets, my ‘get out of jail free cards’. Supply teachers – use and abuse the following activities as these made my job a whole lot more enjoyable. As always if you would like these five resources as a PDF please email me at

Theme Park

Resources: Internet access to show the students designs of theme parks around the world, A3 paper/cardboard, pens, pencils and rulers

Description: Students can work individually, in pairs or groups up to the size of four. Each group will get an A3 piece of paper, on which they will design their own theme park. Before you get the students to start, show example theme parks on the whiteboard such as Disneyland. Then explain how they need to have rides, shops, restaurants and toilets for the guests. They also need to plan the layout, making sure they don’t have too many rides and not enough shops or vice versa. Then they need to decide a name for their park. The Maths’ section deals with making sure that each attraction is ruled and looks neat, then also pricing the rides and the entry charge to the park. If you want to make it a little more challenging for the students you can give them a budget of how much they can spend. State that a ride is worth $20,000 to build, a shop costs $10,000 and so on. You can write all of this up on the board.

It is a good idea to brainstorm different rides, shops and restaurants as a class, then choose together how much each one should cost. The class will enjoy designing their own park.

Theme Park

100 Dictionary

Equipment: Dictionaries, paper and pens

Description: The students will work individually in this activity. Students will need their own dictionary, pen and paper. Get students to write in their book the following rules. A=1, B=2, C=3 and so on for the rest of the alphabet. Z=26.

The challenge for students is to find a word where the letters add up to 100. They can pick any word in the dictionary. Then, using the rule they have put in their book, add the values together to see if they equal exactly 100.

For example, the word HAVE = 36

H=8 + A=1 + V=22 + E=5

DOG = 26

D=4 + O=15 + G =7

Some words that equal 100 are Wednesday, primary, resolved, chimpanzee, fluorine, underdone, responded and chromium.


The Baggage Collector

Resources: Paper bags for each student to write on

Description: Each student needs to be given a baggage card. Have the students ‘pack their bags’ by writing five interesting facts about their lives on the bag. The students should try to use facts that other students may not know about them. This will make the game a little more difficult. Once the students have finished the teacher collects the cards.

Students now have to pretend they are getting off a flight and they are going to the baggage area to get their bag. Only they ‘accidentally’ pick up someone else’s bag. In other words, they pick up another student’s card. The students then have to go around the room questioning their classmates until they find out whose bag they have.


Reduce Bullying Activity

Resources: A4 paper for each student

Description: Give each student one piece of plain A4 paper. Tell them they are allowed to scrunch it up, stomp on it, really mess it up, throw it on the ground. They can do whatever they like to it besides tear the paper.

Then tell the students to unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty the paper is. Then get them to say they’re sorry to the paper. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, point out to the class all the scars left behind on the paper. And say that these scars will never go away no matter how many times you say sorry or how hard you try to fix them.

Then say this is what happens when a student bullies another; they may say that they are sorry, but the scars last forever. Go around the room and ask each student about how they feel after doing this to the paper. Have a class discussion about bullying. Then get the students to write their name on their piece of paper and stick them on the wall as a display. You can always refer back to this if a problem with bullying occurs.

Reduce Bullying

Restaurant Design

Resources: Sample menus from restaurants or access to the Internet to show example of menus on the whiteboard. Paper, pens and pencils will be needed for the students to create their menus

Description: The students have to design their own restaurant menu. They need to decide what style of restaurant they want to open. They then need to plan a menu that fits in with the culture they have chosen. They also need to make sure they have a variety of dishes so the general public will be interested in eating at their restaurant. Once they have chosen the meals, they need to decide how much money they will charge per dish. Once all this is completed they need to decide on a name for their restaurant and complete a final draft of their menu.

Show the class examples of different restaurants on the whiteboard, and talk about the descriptions of the dishes, and how using certain words can make an ordinary meal sound amazing and delicious. Also talk about meals for vegetarians and other special requirements. Students can work separately or in groups for this activity.