I am so pleased to welcome Tama Trotti, who blogs at Across the Pond. While this is a great post for primary, these ideas can be adapted for older students as well. Even big kids need full buckets!
Two years ago, I discovered bucket fillers, and we are still going strong with it in my class. I purchased the book Have you Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud as a guide for implementing in my classroom.
The premise of the book is the idea that we all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this they are filling other people’s buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time.
I read this book to my class on the very first day of school. We talk about what it means to be kind to others and how when we say hurtful things, we are bucket dippers. I then have the children fill out and illustrate an activity sheet about how they will be a bucket filler. I keep these sheets up all year as a reminder. I purchased two shoe holders from the dollar store and bought plastic buckets so everyone has their own bucket. Plastic or metal buckets are better than library pockets, as you will be able to recycle the buckets each year. Everyone also completes a bucket filler name tag to attach to their bucket. The pocket chart forms you see in the photo below and the take-home letter are courtesy of Teaching Heart. There are links below to all these forms.
To begin I model on the SMARTBoard how to fill out a bucket filler form. Then, I give everyone a name to whom to write a bucket filler. I help them complete it and put it in the correct bucket. I tell them to try the best they can with their spelling. This also helps the children to learn and spell the names of their classmates. After repeated modeling these first graders were filling their friends’ buckets two and three times a day. Some days I cannot keep up with having enough forms. I tell the class that they are not allowed to look at other people’s bucket fillers. As the year goes on, I encourage the students to branch out a bit with their compliments and really try to notice something about the person tho whom they are writing. I also participate in filling buckets. I treasure all my bucket fillers and display them all on my wall and save them each year. These just melt my heart:
I also send a letter home the first week outlining the bucket filler ideas and how they will be implemented in the classroom. There are also four buckets to fill on the take-home sheet. I write the names of three students on the form, and the last bucket is for the parents to write a bucket filler to their child. With the help of their parents or caregiver, the children write something kind about their classmate on each bucket and then cut out each bucket. The children bring the completed buckets back to school and place them in their respective classmate’s bucket. The one from the child’s parent goes in their own bucket.
When I get emails from parents that tell me, “My child came home today talking about bucket fillers and how they are going to be a bucket filler,” this just makes my day. Even now, late in the school year, the children always go back to the words – bucket dipper and bucket filler.
As an extension activity to bucket fillers, we also do a Compliment Circle Activity each week where we sit in a circle and say a compliment about someone in our class or even in another class. The look on a child’s face when someone gives them a compliment is priceless. To monitor talking during this time, I use a small plastic cube, and it is passed to you when it’s your turn to talk. Only the person who has this in his/her hand is allowed to talk.
There are so many fabulous ideas on Pinterest for bucket fillers. Search and you will find.
Links to the forms:
Pocket Chart Bucket Forms – Courtesy of Teaching Heart Blog
Take-Home Letter to Parents – Courtesy of Teaching Heart Blog
More Bucket Filler Forms – Courtesy of What the Teacher Wants Blog
Tama Trotti is currently a first grade teacher at an international school in Paris. She loves teaching and finding new ideas to implement in her classroom. She says that blogging, Pinterest, and Twitter have connected her to so many fabulous teachers full of fantastic ideas.