Tattling, name-calling and other behavioral issues eat up a teacher's teaching time and create a negative environment in the classroom. The idea of bucket filling encourages kids to be kind toward one another to fill up our invisible buckets. The book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carol McCloud, introduces the concept in a child-friendly way. After reading the book to your students, provide enrichment activities to encourage them to be bucket fillers.
Bucket Fillers vs. Bucket Dippers
Instead of telling students to be bucket fillers, list examples. Create a chart titled "Bucket filling..." with columns labeled "Looks Like," "Feels Like" and "Sounds Like." The kids come up with examples for each column. The "Looks Like" category might include kids sharing a toy or smiling. A friendly voice is an example for "Sounds Like." As a follow-up activity, write different actions or statements on note cards. Write at least one for each student. Some activities should be "bucket fillers," while others should be "bucket dippers," or negative things that take away from a person's invisible bucket. Each student reads his card. If it is a bucket filler, he puts the paper in a bucket at the front of the room. Put the bucket dipping examples in the trash to show they aren't acceptable behaviors.
Classmate Bucket Filling
Once the kids understand the idea of bucket filling, encourage them to act as bucket fillers. Each student needs a small bucket or plastic cup to represent the invisible internal bucket. When a child does something that fills another child's bucket, physically fill her bucket or cup. You can use pompoms or other small objects for this. If you want the kids to focus on specific acts, have them write the action on paper and put it into the bucket. An alternative is to cut bucket shapes from paper and to use stickers to represent filling the bucket.
Class Bucket-Filler Log
Tracking bucket-filling activities in the classroom encourages the behaviors to continue. A notebook is a simple way to do this. When a child knows a classmate has filled his bucket, he writes a description of what happened in the notebook. Read the log to the class from time to time. You can also turn the log into a book with pictures that you can share with others. Have each student pick an example of bucket filling that happened in the classroom. The kids illustrate the action and write a description of it. Bind those bucket-filling pages together to make your own book.
Famous Bucket Fillers
The idea of bucket filling doesn't have to stop at the classroom doors. Expand the idea by having kids identify famous bucket fillers. This lesson works well with your history curriculum. Many famous figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., fit the description of bucket filler. Discuss how those people made a positive impact on others by using kindness and compassion. You can also bring the lesson closer to home by asking students to think of other people in their lives, such as parents, coaches or relatives, who fill their buckets.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.