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:
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!