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CDs! Lots of dancing music and songs on CDs! Leave worksheets with song lyrics on one side (so they can listen to a recording of the song and sing it) and on the other side put background on the song, music theory concepts or whatever you want them to learn with that song. You might leave illustrations of the concept on poster paper for the sub to put on the board. Have the kids play games and fun activities which they already know, with which to break it up.

For your older kids why not assign a research project, which is not so directly music knowledge-related. Easiest option is a report about given composers. Biographical info and info about styles is in encyclopedias (man do they still print those??) and in books – let alone the internet. Talk with the librarian about resources to which the teacher and librarian could direct the students. Make a list of acceptable websites which the students can use. Some ideas off the top of my head are (Dallas Symphony) and (New York Philharmonic. There’s also a PBS kids site with great music info, which I’m forgetting.