Saturday, September 3, 2011

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

 It is essential to establish and warm and caring classroom environment these first few weeks of school. I try do that in several different ways, one of which includes Bucket-Filling. The idea of this comes from the Bucket Fillers website and this book that explains it all in the simplest of words and illustrations:
The concept is simple: we all carry invisible buckets with us everywhere we go. When people are kind to us, our buckets get filled, and it makes us happy. When people are unkind, they have dipped into our buckets, which makes us feel sad or upset. To make this idea more tangible, each student has decorated their own individual bucket. In the blue bucket (below), I keep little slips of paper that read "I would like to fill ________'s bucket by saying __________________. From _______"

I have noticed students slipping these little papers into other students' buckets during transition times or if they have a moment after completing their work. It never interferes with instruction or other academic times, as student understand what the appropriate times are for filling the actual buckets. On Friday afternoons, I allow students to check their buckets and read their slips. They can't wait for this moment! I saw many smiles today as students read the kind words from their fellow classmates. I encourage students to fill not only the buckets of their best friends, but of students they don't know that well. What better way to make a friend?

I reinforce bucket-filling by incorporating a number of books into my shared reading time during Reader's Workshop. We discuss themes common to the books - kindness, courage, perseverance, and acceptance. Many of the characters in these books share these traits and are bucket-fillers because of the good choices they make. On the flip side, we also get to see what happens when people make poor choices and dip into other people's buckets. These books include:


I think using the concept of bucket-filling has really helped my students see themselves as part of a family or team, rather than individuals functioning alone in the classroom. The key is to make sure bucket-filling endures, and is not a beginning of the year thing or one of those ideas that fizzles out after the first month. I hope to do this by continuing to discuss kindness and teamwork and bucket-filling language within the context of the literature that I read to my students. In addition, I plan to fill my students' buckets from time to time, especially if I notice students who have empty buckets.

Check out Marygold College's blog to find out how other teachers across the country have implemented this fabulous program!


  1. Hi there,

    I LOVE how you put the student buckets on library pockets (???) so they can be filled but not take up a whole lot of room. Do you keep your slips of paper in the big bucket? Also, WHERE did you find the bucket for students to color? It looks so much better than the one I found!!!

    thanks, Beth

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations! I'm doing bucket fillers in my classroom for the first time.

  3. I am happy to help other teachers with ideas! Beth, the student buckets are on library pockets (Genius, I know! Totally not my original idea!), and the slips go in the actual bucket hanging on the wall (3M hooks - gotta love 'em). The buckets I used for the students to decorate are on my school computer, but I do have an alternative on my Teacher Resources tab. I would be glad to email you buckets I used when I go back to school on Tuesday. : )

  4. I've been trying to find a simple bucket system to use in my class. This just might be "the one"!

    Quench Your First

  5. I use this theme in my classroom too. I printed small copies of the bucket and laminated them for the corners of students desks. I added 3 stars beads (Craft section of Walmart) for them with velcro and if they are a bucket dipper they lose a star. If they have 2 or 3 stars at the end of the day they get a dragon award (school motto). I have never been so happy with my class behavior as I am this year. Such great compassion being shown and I truly feel happy and excited all day long!

  6. I'm just starting the bucket system this year and I saw on your vistprint creations you have a super cute card that says "Have you filled a bucket today?" Did you design that yourself? If so can I get it from you so I can use it in my class? Thanks for sharing all of your creativity.

  7. Mikki, yes, I did design the bucket card. However, the bucket image is one that can be found anywhere on the net. It's the one that the author/illustrator created for the book. You are welcome to click on the card I made, save it to your files, and then recreate in Vistaprint, or even in a word document. : )