12 must-have apps for supply teachers

Sharon Wood

Once permanent teacher, then career supply teacher, now homeworker, Sharon Wood founded National Supply Teacher Week. Having worked as and with supply teachers for over a decade, she has built an online community for whom she believes to be the most isolated of teaching professionals. For more information, please visit SupplyBag.co.uk and TheSupplyTeacher.com.

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Website: www.TheSupplyTeacher.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What are the essential resources for the supply teacher? Sharon Wood, founder of National Supply Teacher Week, takes a look at her absolute favourites.

On supply, normal rules don’t apply. You may be left a set of plans, fully resourced, for the day. Or you may turn up with five minutes (10 minutes after you received the call to go) before the children arrive, to an empty desk, a missing laptop, and no password for the photocopier. You don’t know that the children have some work to finish off in any spare five minutes. You need to make sure that the children are fully occupied and engaging with their task to help minimise fuss and poor behaviour. You may be warned assembly is a 9:30 sharp, only to arrive and discover that it has been cancelled for today. In short, you need help! From five minute time fillers, to whole session activities ideas on the hop, apps are an essential tool for supply teachers.


Class Break features over 200 different activities and games that are outside the traditional PE class games of kickball and volleyball. It also features team building exercises, brainteasers, and more. In addition, it works well in a traditional classroom. Teachers will find that it is ideal for students who are having trouble staying awake during an uninspiring assignment. Simply take ten minutes and allow students to participate in a few of the brain exercises to increase their focus. Additionally, many of the physical activities can be done in the classroom, which is ideal for rainy days when break is cancelled.


Twitter is more than just a social media site. It is an excellent way for teachers to keep parents and students updated on what is going on in class as well as what is coming up. You can tweet out assignment due dates, test dates, plan field trips, post syllabus changes, and more. It is also a great way to send out supplemental information to parents and students including links to articles and news stories. It is a simple way of allowing students to ask questions during a lecture and take and share notes with classmates. It can be even be used to engage in conversation with classes all over the globe. It is a free app that is simple to use and navigate.


Undecided is a free app that is intended to help make decisions easier. It features a six-sided dice, spinner, straw pull, and coin toss. Teachers will find that its great for students to use while playing games, especially those where the spinner or dice have been misplaced. It is also ideal because it eliminates the need for any major clean up.


BrainBreak is a great way to motivate, re-energize and refocus students at any stage of the day. It has nine different categories that offer numerous activities to choose from designed to maximize oxygen to the brain and stimulate students. Teachers can choose from stretching, brainteasers, meditation, balance & coordination, movements, controlled movements, breathing, posture and powerful proverbs. Teachers will find that it is an excellent way to revive students in a very short amount of time and get them refocused on the work at hand. Additionally, it is a great way to let students use up some excess energy without leaving the classroom.


Toontastic is a free app, but upgrades can be made for a small fee. This is the perfect app to encourage children to explore their creative side. It is ideal for students that have difficulty writing short stories because it prompts children through the story writing process. Students are able to add animation and music to their production as they create their own cartoons. This app allows you to view cartoons produced by children all over the world, which is also a great way to introduce students to other cultures.


SparkleFish is a free app that is reminiscent of the game Mad Libs. It requests that students record themselves saying examples of certain parts of speech. When the student has filled in all the blanks with correct answers they can, then, listen to the story been read aloud. Students usually enjoy the fact that the stories end up being funny and entertaining. Teachers will like that is a great way for children to have fun while reviewing basic grammar lessons. It also provides children with examples if they are unable to come up with a correct word. Additionally, it is great for any age group because it does not require the child to write anything, only say words aloud.

Screen Chomp

Screen Chomp is a free app and is a digital whiteboard that can be used by teachers and students to write and draw (in 12 different colours) on using their fingertips. It also can be used to record voiceover lectures or actual presentations in the classroom. Teachers will appreciate that this app allows students who have been absent to view what they missed in the classroom. For example, a maths teacher can record him or herself working out problems on the whiteboard while explaining the procedure in the voiceover. It also allows students that are experiencing difficulty comprehending a concept to review previous lectures.

Teacher Shake

Teacher Shake provides over 100 different lesson starters as well as a number of debrief and reflection ideas. Perhaps best suited to younger students, the activities require few resources and can be quickly organised. The app provides a number of outstanding icebreaker activities and also games for those times when a class needs to refuse. One iTunes reviewer says it all: “Where has this app been all my life. I use Teacher Shake to start and finish each class. This is a fantastic resource”. The best feature of this app is the simple shake function, where teachers simple shake their device and a new activity appears randomly. This is a must have for all supply teachers.


ClassDojo is a free app that has completely changed how teachers manage behaviours in their classrooms. It allows for quick and effective behaviour monitoring. Each child’s name and avatar is entered into the system. The app allows teachers to record both positive and negative behaviours. There are present categories including on task, helping others, no homework, and unprepared among others. You have the ability to add additional categories at your discretion. Teachers simply click the boxes that apply to each student. In addition, teachers will like the fact that it gives you a quick summary of each student’s behaviour to refer to as needed. Finally, it prepares a report on a pie graph that is sent out to children’s parent on Fridays detailing their child’s weekly behaviour.

Too Noisy

Too Noisy Pro costs £2.29 and is intended to monitor noise levels in the classroom. It allows teachers to choose the acceptable level of noise. The app features a colourful background with a smiley face. However, as the noise level increases it changes until it becomes a crying face with its ears plugged. When the noise level is unacceptable an alarm will sound alerting the class to become quieter. It has a counter feature to keep track of how many times the alarm has gone off. Teachers will enjoy the fact that they can easily change the acceptable level of noise depending on what activity is taking place such as silent reading or free time.

Easy PD

Easy PD makes keeping track of professional development easy. You can easily track the number of hours that you have completed and take a screenshot of your results for verification. Teachers will find that it is much easier than attempting to keep track of paper certificates. Also, records can be sent via email to the teacher or her supervisor.

Apps Gone Free

AppsGoneFree is obviously a free app. Its purpose is to compile an updated list of apps that are free for a short period of time. It features detailed descriptions, ratings, and reviews. You can download them to see if you are interested in them. Teachers will appreciate the fact that it allows you to try out apps before paying for them. Everyone loves free apps, but some of the best ones have a small price attached to them. You will often find fantastic interactive books and student based learning educational apps. We recommend you download the free app and check the great list of free apps offered daily.

What apps have you found ideal for supply teaching? Let us know in the comments.

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