Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

I am loving Joanne from "Head Over Heels for Teaching" and her new linky party, "Spark Student Motivation Saturdays"

It's that time of the year. Spring is dawning. The weather is warming. Hormones are raging. Students who were so kind and considerate are now very comfortable with one another. Our class has bonded - and is now fighting like brothers and sisters. It was one particularly zany day when I heard some insensitive, off-hand comments that made me stop mid-sentence in a lesson, walk to me desk, and pull out this book.
It was time for Bucket Fillers.
You've probably seen this book around. It is fabulous. 
Here's the synopsis:
Everyone in the world has an imaginary bucket that they carry around. All day long people are either filing it or dipping into it with their words and actions.
When you "fill" someone's bucket (by doing or saying something kind and generous), then your bucket gets filled too. However, when you "dip" into someone's bucket (by hurting their feelings, excluding them, hurting them physically, etc.) then you empty your bucket as well.
This book is written for a younger audience, but my students loved it. They understood the concept and know that I hold them responsible for their words and actions.

But I didn't want the lesson to stop with the book.
We needed to take action!
We made lists of things that we can do to fill buckets and contrasted that with things we do to "dip" into others' buckets.
Then came the fun part - creating our buckets! The students were each given a bucket template to decorate and personalize. Then I cut paper bags in half and they glued their buckets on them. I stapled the bags to the bulletin board and *voila!*

Once the buckets were up, it was time to fill 'em!
I printed out these nifty note templates - and you can too! (for FREE!)
We talk a lot about how much it costs to be nice...pretty much nothing! They don't have to spend money on lavish gifts, they don't have to follow that person around all day - it only takes a minute to think of something nice to say or do for someone. I don't let them write (often) to their best friends and I don't accept notes that simply say, "you're nice." - I teach them to be specific in their praise. i.e. "you were nice when..." It's really forced them)helped them think critically about others and look for the good in their classmates. 

I heard from a parent that one of my students is hanging his bucket notes in his room :)

They turn in the notes to me and I sort them into the buckets. I put the note as well as a colorful bead in the bucket. I also put a bead in the bucket of the one who sent the note.
BUT if they DIP into someone else's buckets, they lose FIVE of their own beads because bullying never pays.

You can download some awesome Bucket Fillers posters HERE:

I put up different quotes for my students to ponder each week. When we started our Bucket Fillers unit, I changed my quote to this one:

Now here's where the lesson hits home:
This is true for us teachers as well. Students will not remember all that we teach them nor the fun activities that we plan. But they will remember how we made them feel. Do your students feel valued? Do they feel capable? Do they feel important?
Teachers do lots of bucket filling and dipping too - we must be reflective of the words that we say when addressing our class or individual students. And we must always be on the lookout for ways to fill our students' buckets.


  1. I LOVED YOUR ENTIRE POST! Awesome! Such great ideas! Pinning that bulletin board and ordering the book from Amazon tonight! Thanks for sharing Jessica and coming to my party!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. This is wonderful, Jessica!! I especially loved your ending thoughts about teachers. I have to get this book!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. I love this book and I love all of the ideas you are using! I did something very similar last year when I looped with my class and they knew just how to push all the right buttons on their peers to drive them nuts!

    I was just going to post about this next week...but I think you did the job for me! :O) This book has such a great message and is so simple for them to undestand!! Great post!

    Hope you are having a good weekend!
    Collaboration Cuties

  4. Just stopping by to say that I think this book is great, easy for kids to understand, and is really well received by almost all kids/teachers. I also like when everyone knows what filling your bucket means. too cool, great choice.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  5. This is a wonderful post! Our guidance counselors do a lesson using this book every year and even my big fifth graders get into it! Such a fabulous message for everyone!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  6. I love this book! We start the year with reading it and putting up buckets on a bulletin board too. The message is a strong one and the kids know what it means to fill or empty someone else's bucket. Great ideas! I'm your newest follower!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings


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