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When Fall rolls around, the hot topic becomes "how do I start off the year?" The lists of ice breakers are endless, and here our contributors share some of their favorites. Got one of your own? Send it to us!

My introduction to the students is sharing a part of my interests and self by taking a small white paper bag (lunch bag size) with my name witten in crayon and decorated with stickers, sequins, etc.. I place about 5 - 10 different items that tell about myself. Chocolate Hershey bar ( I love chocolate...what teacher doesn't?), picture of my animals, sea shells, NY Yankees pennant (favorite baseball team), favorite book, a little potted plant, (enjoyment of gardening), a baby rattle & picture of my new baby, etc... After sharing this with the students, I pass out these same type of bags and direct the students to bring no more than 10 items depicting their interests and likes (must fit in the bag!) They then will take turns explaining their items - sometimes I video the presentations to be used later on in the year (can be used on a web page or avid cinema presentation). The students learn a lot about each other as well as provide you with their interests on which to use and build on during the school year for motivation and/or conversation. I finish up the day by bringing the students and a large skein of yarn (rolled into a ball) outside and sit everyone into a circle. I begin by holding the end of the string and tell something about another person I learned, then I gently toss the ball to another student, they must share something they learned about another student. The ball is tossed around the circle weaving a "web" until the yarn is totally unrolled. This allows for bringing the class together as a "family" from day one, making your interests common ones, and helping new students unfamilar with those who know each other more comfortable now that they know the others a bit better. -"Botn1"

I like your idea about the bag. It would be a good idea for a couple of days subbing too. Your yarn idea reminded me of another use I have with it. When you throw the yarn you must say something that you LIKE about the person you are sending it to. When everyone has had a go, the yarn is thrown back, again, stating what you like about the person you are throwing it to. -Dona Hartwich from down-under

Ask students to bring a box or a bag with items that tell something about them. Have students interview one another and then introduce their partner to the class. Once students have interviewed each other, have them make a place mat for their partner. Have a personal scavenger hunt Ask them to write an acrostic with their names Play the Letter Name Game: Students must go around the room looking for someone who has a certain letter in their names. Ex. Look for someone who has an "m" in their name. Or, find how many people in the class have an "m" in their name. Play "Get Acquainted Bingo." Get a list of students' names and ask them to fill in a Bingo grid. Then play Bingo. Another Bingo activity is to have them say something about themselves as their name is being called. Play Signature Bingo. Instead of you writing the names of the students on the Bingo grid, have students go around collecting signatures from the students; then play Bingo. Hope you can try some of these. -Marta Pabellon

You could have your students make "Me Posters" and you could make one also. The poster would include photos and/or magazine pictures that tell something about the person, such as family, hobbies, special interests, etc. - you make your poster including the information you want to know about the students and then use is to introduce yourself to them. Then ask them to do the same. I always ask them to include their name or nickname in a way other than just written out. Another suggestion would be to write the class a letter about yourself and put it on a transparency. Read the letter to the students and then ask them to write you a letter including the same type of information. You will need to be specific about what info you want included - I give an outline or list. I don't know what age your students are but this works well with older students. -Sandy "SQUILT109"

I write a letter to the kids. I also write a letter to the parents to introduce myself and tell a little bit about my background. I've received great feedback about that. -"Luvmugs44"

I also send a postcard welcoming my new students, and they have always commented on it the first day of school. Another thing I do is send a letter to the parents also, introducing myself and telling a little about what my class will be like for their children. This year, for the first time, I have made a handbook to send home the first day of school with very detailed information about most of the expectations in my classroom, including such things as what happens if toys are brought to school, restroom policy and weather-appropriate clothing for outdoor recess as well as the usual information on behavior management systems, classwork expectations,and homework policy. -Nancy Rausch 4/KY

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