Making it special - by Jan

Supply teaching – some ideas to make it a special day/time

I have been working as a supply teacher in Early Years for the last half term and try to make my time with the children special and memorable for them, I want to leave a warm, light and positive imprint on the class during my short time as a visitor in the space. I may only meet the class group for one day and I want it to be a positive and enjoyable experience. I have developed a few ideas to bring some magic into the time that I have with the class.

Treasure: I bring a box of treasures with me, which I generally share with the group after we have met and done register, before the session gets going. I tell the children that I have brought something special from home to share with them at the end of the session and I give them some clues – a favourite treasure is a small fossil. I introduce it: “It’s something very old – 400 million years old! Its tiny and someone found it on a beach” I have had some good guesses “a chocolate, a mouse, a fish, a biscuit...” Often, throughout the session, the children will remind me about the treasure, ask what it is... At the end of the session, seated together, the treasure box is opened and the treasure handed round, in one session children chose to make a wish whilst they were handling the fossil. Other treasures that I have brought in are

A tiny dragon, a tiny tea set, sparkly beads, a bag of stars, a torch, tiny mirror in a box, a compass. Charity shops are great places for developing treasure boxes. I have an assortment of boxes and bits of treasure to explore and handle as a stimulus for talk and interest.

Special stories Doing supply you have to get to understand routines, names etc. very quickly. I have a small book and a special pen, which I take with me and start a new page for each supply session. I tell the children that I am writing down the date and the class on a new page and I am going to write down all good things that I notice in the session and share it at the end with children and the teacher. I explain that I am going to write down when I see children helping each other or helping me, trying hard with their work and anything interesting or exciting that I notice. I don’t always get to share it with the children but I copy the information for the teachers who can use it in their records. It’s very positive and specific and I try to include as many names as possible, just small events such as “I saw Adam making a sand castle, Phoebe helped put the lids on the pens..’ children like to be reminded of what they did and hear it celebrated. Sometimes I invite children to add in their own words and ideas throughout the session


Music and songs and stories are inclusive and invite all children in to a shared time, children can engage at different levels, from the shy children to the most confident all can be involved. I have my guitar in the car with me and offer to do a singing session, I often teach children a new song or rhyme that they can share, I take a favourites story or story sack for telling or reading with me. Developing a selection of stories for telling and props is a good idea. I would be interested to know what other people do out there in the world of supply teaching...

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