As a teacher, each year brings a new group of smiling faces into your classroom. However, it is a group of people that need to get to know each other quickly, as they school year gets off to a running start. They are anticipating a new school year and wondering who will be in their class, what they will eat lunch, and when is recess. Most of all, they are wondering, who is my teacher and is she nice.
When I first started teaching, a veteran teacher introduced me to a fun ice breaker for the beginning of school. A Bio Bag is simply a bag filled with items that relate a sense of who you are to the children. The bag can be a simple as a brown grocery sack or a loud, crazy suitcase.
Think of the things that the children may want to know about you and then choose an item that represents that fact. You could include items that tell children about your hobbies, family, or pets. For example if you enjoy knitting, you could include knitting needles or an example of something you have made. Show the kids a picture of your family or pet. You can also include items that relay some of your favorite things or special places your have traveled.
Using the Bio Bag
When you would normally introduce yourself to the students the first day of school, tell them that you would like to share some things about yourself with them. As you pull each item out of the bag, talk about the item and how it relates to you. Allow the students’ time to ask questions about the items. You may even want to pass certain items around. Be sure to include two items that tell the children why you are a teacher and what your ultimate goal is for the classroom. For example, if you are a social studies teacher, you may include a ball with a world map on it and talk to the children about the interesting things they will learn about the world.
Why it works
First of all, any good teacher knows that good instruction involves using visual and hands-on, concrete items. Because the presentation involves more of the students senses, there is a higher chance that they will be interested in what you have to say. It also is a great way to get to know you students in a natural way. It also helps the students buy into you as their teacher more quickly and they will be more likely to respond to you, meaning classroom instruction will get off to a running start.
The Bio Bag is a great way to also get to know your students. After you demonstrate your Bio Bag, give each student a brown paper bag and challenge them to fill it with a few items that represent them. The second day of school, begin instruction by breaking the class into small groups of pairs and allowing the students to share their Bio Bags.
Source: Personal Experience