The popular children's book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" has just sold a million copies and is quickly becoming an integral tool for many teachers’ classroom management. As many districts address and re-address their policies on bullying, and bullying prevention, this engaging K-5 children's book encourages positive behavior and teaches children that showing kindness, respect, and appreciation really makes a difference.
Although the bucket filling concept isn't a new one, Carol McCloud's book offers child-friendly explanations in simple prose and beautiful illustrations. Teachers have found that integrating the bucket filling concept into their classrooms benefits their established character education curriculum and helps clearly define appropriate and beneficial ways to interact with one another. After reading the book we hope you'll be inspired to begin bucket-filling as soon as school begins, and stick with it throughout the year.
As you consider the beginning of the school year, plan to:
- Read the book aloud several times. As you are creating a classroom climate, establishing classroom rules, and learning routines you should also read (and reread) the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" This introduction to the metaphorical concepts will help students of all ages understand the relation between their buckets and their mental and emotional selves. Students will quickly connect to the concepts and begin to use the new vocabulary to describe their emotions
- Create a bucket filling list. Along with the read aloud you can also work as a class to brainstorm ways to fill others' buckets. This is an important step so students can understand and relate the bucket-fillers to concrete behavioral examples. This list should be posted in the classroom and given to students to have their own copies.
- Make bucket filling visual. There are multitudes of ways to accomplish this and you'll want to find a way that the bucket filling process can be visual. You may want to invest in actual buckets for each child or use paper buckets on a bulletin board. As students feel their emotional bucket being filled they can add to their physical bucket using stickers, pom poms, or other items to represent the kind words and actions of others. Some teachers require a student to record the bucket-fillers on a slip of paper or in a notebook before they're added to the bucket and others rely on an honor system. These implementation choices are completely up to you!
- Implement methods of self reflection. It is important for students, regardless of age, to reflect on times their buckets have been filled or dipped into. Young children can draw a picture and older students can record in writing. You may choose to keep these in a personal journal or display them as part of the bucket-fillers bulletin board.
- Celebrate bucket-fillers! Since this program is designed to encourage internally motivating behaviors, the celebration is never the goal. The goal is to encourage children to view their behavior as having an impact on others. However, finding simple ways to celebrate bucket-fillers is crucial. Some teachers read aloud one bucket filler a day while others find ways for students to reflect as a group on the program and to thank others.
There are a variety of websites that provide even more ideas for teachers interested in implementing a bucket filler program when school begins. Check out these sites and resources:
My Fun Teacher
We asked teachers to share some of the ways they’ve used bucket filling in their classrooms. Download our Marygrove MAT Guide to Bucket filling for teacher-tested ideas and hints to make your classroom climate even sunnier this year!