Sub Plans - Middle School

Sub Plans - Middle School


Substitute Plans and Time Fillers for Middle School - for High School

Lesson: Flip Book Faces
Submitted by: Melissa Speelman

See Elementary School Sub Plans here


One of my most fun and successful sub plans has been based on the book "Making Faces". by Norman Messenger.

If you are not familiar with the book, it is filled with front and side views of faces, some very strange. Each section of the book flips to create new and even stranger faces. There is also a "celebrity" version of the book.


The book is the same size as legal paper (8.5" x 14" - 21.5 x 35.5 cm). What I do is trace the sections of the book as well as a few lines of the heads to show students where their drawings must cross over in each section. This ensures that the faces they draw will line up with everyone else's drawings. I photocopy the template onto legal size paper for everyone. Students create their own face (Colored Pencils..), I laminate. them and bind them together. Once bound, I cut on the lines separating each section allowing students to flip and change the faces.

The students love creating and looking at these faces. Many students create multiple faces. This year I created a second template for the side view of the face. Then I ask students to create a side view that matched their front view. This proved to be pretty challenging for some. I make templates -- The templates are very easy to make yourself since the format of the book is legal size. Just a note, I photocopy the template for everyone very lightly so that the guide lines are almost disappear once drawing and coloring is complete.


Lesson: Changing Cubes - Funny Faces
Submitted by: Bunki Kramer


funny face sculpture funny face sculpture


The other lesson I've done similar is in 3D. I had some redwood (or any kind of wood) posts that were about 3" x 3" (7.6 x 7.6 cm) and the shop teacher cut them into 3x3x3" (7.6 x 7.6 x 7.6 cm) squares. We slightly sanded these to get off the spikes of wood which were left. Each student got 3 of these square blocks which they stacked one on top of another. They blocked off on Drawing Paper. 9" x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm) three-inch (7.6 cm) squares which gave them the specific measurements of each side of the stacked square and they could sketch in their faces. They transferred onto the blocks with the measured gaps lining up on each. We painted them in tempera. They could "rotate" each block so they would have different parts of the faces connected to make different other faces. When finished, they protected their sculptures with Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray Paint..


Art Appreciation with this project: Marisol Escobar, Marisol - Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper (Also Artcyclopedia Online) and/or Dr Seuss

Another use for those post squares is to give each student ONE and they have to make it a "piece of themselves" or a "self-portrait" about who they are. I put out little bits of stuff like wire, Beads., cloth, corrugated board, Tag board., nails, hammer, lace, computer parts, ribbon, White Glue., etc. plus Tempera Paint.. I got some wonderful little sculptures.

One was covered in "eyes" with tag board eyes painted and popping out onto wires. Another used just nails and corrugated board painted and with Beads. underneath as little pedestals.


Flip Book Alternative - by Linda Wood

Suitable for many grade levels. I have done "Head, Body, Feet" flip books for years. When I do my books, I have kids work in groups to create a larger book in less time. They work in groups of 3. At first they line up 3 sheets of 3 x 4 (7.6 x 10 cm) paper vertically and make a mark at the edges where each joins... between the top two sheets, they mark the width of the connecting neck on top and middle paper, on the bottom and middle edges, they mark where the body transitions into legs or whatever means of getting around they dream up! Then they trace these marks (measurements) on lots of other pieces of paper. Then they go to work... one person dreams up all sorts of ridiculous heads and necks, another designs lots of random bodies with lots of details, the 3rd kid designs the "legs", which might be carrots, tree trunks, real legs, animal legs and feet, etc. The heads and bodies can be human or animal, too. The only important thing is that they remember their original measurements in their drawings, as later, they all have to join up. When we are tired of drawing (usually about 3 or 4 days), we put them together in booklets and kids have fun looking at each other's wacky combinations. It's great for a sub, also great for an end of the year, fun, "mindless to the teacher" activity that kids love. So much to do in the little classroom prior to closing up shop. I always try to do something like this at the end that is pressure free!


Flip Book Alternative - by Bunki Kramer

I have done two lessons similar with your "faces". When we were doing our "Screamer" classes (monster-making), during the drying times we made monster flip books like your face book. It was a great time-filler between drying times and one they could always return to. I had forgotten all about this lesson and glad you brought it up. I particularly like the idea of laminating and binding them. We just used the old fashioned stapled way.


Drawing Ideas From: Jayna Huffines

Here is what I've tried for Middle School sub plans lately, and the kids seem to like it a lot. Next year I intend to give the students a Sub Assignment check list, with a list of assignments that can be completed in a day or two using colored pencil only (so the sub will not have to stress about supplies). I like the idea of giving the kids a choice, because it kind of feels like a "free day" to them rather than a day when they know they will have written work to complete. I feel much better about giving my students written work when I am there for feedback, anyway.


1) How do you picture yourself in twenty years? What will you look like? What will your job be?

2) Draw your family portrait, but not in a posed format. Draw everyone the way YOU see them! Is your brother a pest? How could you show that? Does your sister think she's a princess? Draw her that way! Do you believe that your mother runs the household? How could you draw her? How should you look compared to the rest of your family?

3) Fold your drawing paper in half lengthwise and draw the front of a locker. On the inside of the paper, draw the inside of the locker. You may draw it realistically, with books, notebooks, gym clothes, etc., or you can imagine that your locker door opens to another dimension to reveal a fantasy world. What would the inside of your locker look like then? (Thanks to the originator of this idea-I'm not sure who to give credit to)

4) What if there really is life on Mars? What would the environment look like? Draw it in either one or two point perspective.

5) Draw the inside of your bedroom (mess and all!) in one point perspective.

And the list could go on and on... Jayna will give updates from time to time so check back.


Design/Drawing Ideas From: Kara LiCausi

The sub plans I leave are very similar to Jayna's, in that I leave a list of options for the students to choose from. The projects could be completed in colored pencil so that there are no issues with supplies. I have the students do their work in their sketchbook and hand them in for a grade to make sure that nobody is wasting time while I'm not around. I also use these for homework sketchbook assignments.


1. Pretend that you are a fashion designer. Design an outfit for each season, complete with accessories. Pay close attention to the color schemes and how they would be appropriate to each season.

2. Design a car, boat, plane, motorcycle, etc. Add interesting gadgets or features such as ones that could make them fly, or turn invisible. The students may label and describe the parts and often name their "machines".

3.Draw an animal in a strange environment. The animal may be real or imaginary. I have seen elephants in fish bowls, and a herd of cows flying in the sky... a really fun project!

4. Draw yourself or someone you know as a cartoon, a background must be included.

5. Choose an image (art print) that is hanging in the classroom. Draw it as best as you can, but change the color scheme.

6.Fold your paper in half. Choose a landscape and draw it twice, once on each half of the paper, but draw the landscape as you would see it in two different season. Make use of warm and cool colors and add interesting details.

7. Draw an everyday scene, such as a day at the zoo, park, carnival, etc, but either add 5 hidden pictures or draw 5 things within the picture that are bizarre, but not immediately obvious to the viewer.

8. Draw your hand in three different positions. Create a composition using all three drawings. (This one was from Yvette Lewis)


Hog Wild Metal Magnetic Sculptures from Linda Wood

Linda has many different learning centers to use as back-up plans. One is Hog Wild Metal Sculptures - the kids really go to town creating unusual creative pieces (think Picasso and other cubist sculptors). These are all temporary as after a few days, they are disassembled and put back into the boxes for others to use. Linda has purchased several sets and mixed them all into one center. See Hog Wild page for more information.


What's inside your Locker? from Yvette Lewis

Handle this as a lesson in surrealism - fantasy - or personal self portrait of a different kind. Draw details of locker on out side, lock, handle, vents etc. I provided a template of the locker for them to put inside the folded 12 x 18 (30.5 x 46 cm) (or 9 x 12 / 23 x 30.5 cm) drawing paper for those who had trouble remembering what our lockers looked like. Inside draw whatever wild and unusual objects that might be hiding while no one is looking. Students can do monsters, talking sneakers, underwater scenes, landscapes, animals, Finish in colored pencils or makers. Posted originally by Yvette Lewis.

Bad Hair Day by Michal Austin and Sky McClain


bad hair day picture bad hair day picture


All grade levels (K through 8) should be able to have fun with this idea. For Michal's "bad hair day" assignment, draw either a lady's or a man's face. Add hair, either atop the female's head, or the male's mustache and beard. The requirements for this lesson include drawing a minimum of 5 different values, and 5 different line patterns. The values are achieved through variations of line thickness and distance. The entire artwork is created using black Permanent Markers. on 12"x18" (30.5 x 46 cm) white Drawing Paper.. (For a sub, you could use 9" x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm) paper so it will be easy to complete in one day). Sky's lesson has the student drawing a minimum of six different kinds of lines and repeating all around the head for hair. Check Michal Austin's Art Kids site (Archive) for more great ideas - pictures and brief instructions included!


See how beautiful this lesson can be! Princeton Community Middle School (Archive)


Cryptograms from Yvette Lewis

Use 1" (2.5 cm) grid paper. Create a symbol for each letter of the alphabet -- it should fill the square. Write your name or a secret message with the new alphabet


Surrealism Hand Drawing by Bunki Kramer

Have students draw their hand realistically first - then create a surreal hand. See also Surreal Feet.


From Jean Womack: I like the lesson plan where you trace the outline of the hand and fill each finger with a different texture or pattern. They can also draw animals or people in the hand. They usually say they've done it before, so I say that great artists draw and paint the same thing over and over, like Monet's haystacks, so please do it again One girl drew a "save the animals" picture in her hand. Here is how Michal Austin answers the problem " We did that before": When I have students tell me they've done something before I ask them if they've ever had pizza. Then I ask them if they've had pizza more than once, and if they'd ever like to have pizza again. Then I explain that good things are worth doing more than once.


Shapes and Things by Ellen Sears

I have left for grades 2-7. I left the book 'Shapes and Things.' by Tana Hoban - a book of photo-grams along with a bucket of kitchen utensils.


Two assignments I have left are:

  1. Draw one object 5 times - 1 complete, and four coming onto or going off of the page

  2. Divide the paper into 6 unequal sections. Draw the silhouette in one section to fill... Abstract the object in each of the remaining sections by - multiplying, dividing, adding, subtracting, stretching...

They can use markers to add pattern in negative or positive, warm and cool, complementary...


Castles Dragons and More by Jean Womack

This is good for sixth graders. Jean is a substitute in the San Francisco area. An art teacher was gone for a week. She left a very elaborate lesson plan where the students were supposed to draw a castle, from a handout. Then add dragons, trees, etc, all from the handout. And draw lots of detail. She said they love castles. She drew one on the board that was awesome. Jean showed Cinderella or Snow White or one of those Disney movies that have castles in it (you might want to check with the school policy on showing Disney videos - maybe show a segment of the video). She told them that Disney people made a lot of money drawing castles. Jean also got old calendars with castles and put them up on the wall.


Elements and Principles of Design Videos (Gerald Brommer videos) by Dawn Stienecker

Here is a Substitute note for the Videos:

Good Morning Substitute,

I have requested a TV/VCR from the LMC. Please pick it up.

The video is the Principles of Design (or Elements of Design). It lasts approximately 30 min.

There is a handout (Handout for Elements - Handout for Principles - Note: You might want to include a question or two about the content of the video) – the top part should be done while the video is on so that they will pay a little bit closer attention.


The last part can be done after the video is over. This shouldn’t take more than the 10 or so remaining minutes.

Finally - on the back of the work page, please have them write down their favorite project from the video. Have a great day!


Creative Advertisement Design by Phyllis Brandon


Materials: 8 ½" x 11" (21.5 x 28 cm) Plain White copy paper.
9" x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm) White Drawing Paper.
Pencil Art Artgum Erasers.
Color AquaMarkers. or Colored Pencils..
Hand out the copy paper.


Students are to design an eye-catching magazine advertisement for one of the following: clothing, food, or a sporting event or equipment. Do NOT use real brand names (like NIKE.) Students are to make up a name for their brand of item. Prices need to be stated in the ad. Encourage the students to be as creative as possible with names, descriptions, and advertisements.


The planning is to be done on the copy paper in pencil. Then, when the students are satisfied with the design, they can get a piece of drawing paper and draw their final design on the white drawing paper. Entire surface of white drawing paper should be used and in color. No white backgrounds. Students are to leave white only items that they intend to be white in color. Designs will be graded according to creativity, neatness in execution, and how well they followed directions


Original Comic Strip by Phyllis Brandon


Materials: 6" x 24" (15 x 61 cm) Drawing Paper. strips
Drawing Pencils.
Artgum Erasers.
Colored Pencils..


Give everyone a long piece of drawing paper. Show them how to fold in half, then in half again. When it is opened up, there are 4 sections.


Students are to create at least 3 characters and make up names for them. They are to compose a 4-part comic strip based on the 3 characters. The characters should interact and speak with each other. Students should enclose legible spoken words in a bubble.


All four parts should relate to each other and one section should contain a punch line. The entire four sections should be filled with the cartoon design.


Body parts should be drawn to fill the cartoon space-not just heads.


Students should color their cartoons with color pencils. Encourage the students to be as creative as possible with their cartoons, character names, and punch lines.


Comic strips are graded on originality, legibility, neatness, and good use of design components.


Design an Art Museum - by Sara Green

Draw a one point perspective room with frames on the wall and a sculpture table or case. Have the students design an art museum by drawing works of art in the frames drawn on the paper. You can suggest they use what they have learned in previous lessons or projects as a start, or you could leave postcards of famous art work. They can draw people looking at the work as well. At a higher level they could design a specific type of museum - a Picasso museum, a modern art museum etc.


Suggestions from Linda Kieling

Jasper Johns' "Numbers in Color." inspired name design.
1. fold paper so that it makes a grid of squares
2. student writes name one letter in each box until page is filled
3. create a pattern in each square (can write lesson to be more specific like -unity by using color scheme, etc)

Create an Alphabet - all letters are inspired by a single theme (IE: beach theme C looks like conch shell, S like starfish)

From the Start - students have to start with a dot (or line or number) on their page, then they have to creatively disguise it within their composition.


Upside Down Drawing from Lisa Ruiz

Having a sub in the art studio is always a planning issue. I teach 6-8 grade art at a visual and performing arts magnet and even though my students are familiar with the studio procedures there are still problems. They are adolescents after all and they will test the limits. I always lock up all materials when I am going to be out and I leave only the materials they will need for the activity that is planned.

I usually leave a drawing activity because all they will need are the instructions and pencil and paper. I try to make it as easy for the sub to manage as possible. I use several of the drawing activities from the book by Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.. I use the drawing activities in her companion workbook called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook. A favorite activity is the upside drawings. The kids love it and the subs usually sit down and do it with the kids. I get notes from them saying, "I didn't know I could draw like that."

In the Workbook. there are several contour drawings by famous artists and the instructions are to place the copy of the drawing upside down and draw your own contour. I have found that middle school students cannot leave the drawing upside down. They are too concerned with "getting it right" and they can't stand to have their paper or the drawing they are copying upside down.

Before I make the copies of the drawings for the kids I draw light, horizontal lines at one inch intervals all the way down the sample. I place 4 different drawings inside a 9 x 12 (23 x 30.5 cm) manila envelope. The drawings are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 (each drawing gets more challenging) and they are upside down. The students slide the drawing out of the envelope one inch at a time, using the horizontal lines as their guide. They draw only the portion of the image that is revealed as they pull the drawing out. They are told to record the lines and the negative shapes that they see as they reveal more and more of the drawing. I tape the envelope to the table so they cannot move it and the instructions are printed on the envelope. I have used this activity for 5 years. I have a file of master contour drawings and I change out the images when I need to use it again.

This lesson in drawing forces the students to turn off the critic in their head and get down to the business of recording what they see. If they cannot see the whole image it's easier for them to do. Once they have achieved success at the activity a few times they are more willing to use this trick on their own and they develop the confidence they need to take risks in the art room. The kids can't wait to show me how close their copy is to the original. They are so pleased with themselves and the sub has a good day in the studio as well.


Dede-Tisone-Bartels Lessons (Archive) - Good ideas - Easy enough for a substitute
Series of basic art lessons. Geared to middle school level.


In a pinch? Try ART a Facts™ Magazine Source for Art Lesson Plans and Teacher Resources for Art Education Elementary and Secondary Level. Five issues each year - Comes in set of 30 copies. Homeschool issue also available (consists of one copy of each of the five issues). From Judy: I would recommend you order a copy for elementary and secondary for yourself (see Homeschool price - it is worth it!). Lessons are different for each level... Secondary can be adapted for lower grades, too. There is not much difference in reading level. Font is smaller on Secondary copy so there is more in depth information - also good for you to have. Internet resources are given as well as books. You can easily write up a hands on exercise for student to do after they are finished reading and discussing the magazine.

Lessons for Middle School and High School

Forensic Artists by Patricia Brown, Art Teacher, Weisenborn Middle School, Huber Heights, OH
Materials Needed: Photographs of famous artists - the more distinctive the features, the better (think Andy Warhol!), teacher-created "rap" sheet, Pencils, and Paper.


Procedure: The teacher will print off pictures of famous artists. Why not use those you've studied in class or relate to student work? Write up a very brief description of the crime. Ex: Georgia O'Keeffe - stealing rare flowers from local greenhouses or botanical gardens. Go into as much detail as you choose. Put in a manila envelope. One student is the forensic artist, the other is the witness. The witness must describe for the forensic artist what the person looks like, without showing the picture. This is a good time to practice creative and descriptive vocabulary. Then, hang up the pictures, and as a class, read the description of the crime, showing the picture, and see if the students can figure out "WHO DUNNIT!"


Hidden Squares by Randy Menninghaus

See lesson plan. Randy has set this lesson up for substitutes. Squares are cut from ink drawings (approximately 1" (2.5 cm) in size) ahead of time. Students glue two or three squares (or irregular shapes) to drawing paper (cut to 5" to 6" [12.6 x 15.25 cm] square) and camouflage them into a drawing using ball point ink. Randy suggests using ball point pens rather than Crow Quill Pens. and India ink. bottles.


Playing Card Advertisement by Randy Menninghaus

Randy used the court or face cards of a deck of cards as a spring board... Students looked at cards first... Then discussed using a card to sell a product or favorite food. Using 12 x 16 (30.5 x 40.6 cm) white Drawing Paper. (Rulers. if you want for the border)... Students draw the two heads and pattern on clothes that relates to the product or food - first in pencil then black pen or a simple application of color... generally Colored Pencils...


Forensic Drawing from San D Hasselman

I've done this project with my 9th graders, and it might work for you as sub plans and can be extended to multiple days as well. I take a folder (I make enough folders for ½ of the amount of kids in class) and put in a face that I have photocopied (from magazines, from online, from newspapers, etc). The face is big enough so that students can 'talk' about the features. I then give pairs of students each a folder. One becomes the 'police artist' and does NOT get to see the photo in the folder, the other becomes the poor crime victim (nothing violent... pickpocketing I usually say). The victim then describes the person in the folder and the "police artist" has to draw it based on the description given to him/her. What makes this interesting is that I put in all kinds of faces, including a German shepard etc). The "victims" are not allowed to tell the "police artist" WHO the pickpocket was (if they can identify the picture, ie. Brittney Spears). These folders can be shuffled around the room so that multiple drawings can be done by different pairs of students.


Police Sketch Artist from Heather Hayes

Heather used San D's idea that was posted to Getty TeacherArtExchange.

From Heather: Have the students partner up. One student will be the witness, and the other student will be the police sketch artist. I took 20 pictures and glued them onto Tag board. (so the sketch artist couldn’t see through the paper), and then put them into envelopes labeled with the suspect number. The witness picks a suspect and describes the suspect to the artist. They can only describe – they can NOT show them the picture. They are allowed to look at the drawing, and offer suggestions to improve it. They may only show the original suspect picture AFTER the artist has finished his or her drawing. After they finished one sketch, the students switch roles – the artist is now the witness. They repeat the activity.


For my suspects, about half were photos of real people, and half were comic villains. I tried to pick "suspects" that had unusual features in order to make it a little easier to describe.


I hung up the original suspect picture and all the drawings of that suspect. I had my classes vote on which one was closest to the original picture. I gave a small reward to the winners.


See some examples from Ridgeview Middle School.


copied image      portrait drawing     copied image

drawing from image copied image drawing from image


More Ideas

IAD's Free time activities


Be sure to scan the lesson plans on Incredible Art Department for more easy for a sub plans. Specific plans will be listed here at a later date - check back over the summer.



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