Be a “Bucket Filler”
Beverly Elementary School

This lesson is based on the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud (Ferne Press, 2006).  The book’s message is that we fill each other’s invisible buckets when we show respect and kindness and when we are unkind to others we dip in their bucket and it empties our own. Our happiness increases when we treat others well. Students identify and discuss examples of “bucket filling” and “bucket dipping” from their own lives. Classroom teachers receive a decorated bucket and students are invited identify someone who did a kind act and place it in the bucket.  The teacher may elect to share some of the notes during morning meetings or at the end of the day.  This can be an ongoing practice.

  • Students will understand that the positive things they do for others show respect and will no doubt come back to them.
  • Students will also understand that when they are unkind to others they hurt themselves as well.
  • All grades: A copy of Have you filled a Bucket Today? and a work sheet or materials to make a project or play a game.  (See lesson procedure and attached worksheets.)
  • K – 1: A copy of Rosie’s Roses by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole (Katherine Tegan Books, 2003), Bucket handout to color with letter to parents copied on the back, a plastic bucket, and colored hearts and stars.
  • 2 – 3: A copy of Glenna’s Seeds by Nancy Edwards (Child and Family Press, 2000), blank stars and hearts, and Pass it On worksheet.
  • 4 – 5: A copy of The Original Warm Fuzzy Tale by Claude Steiner (Jalmar Press, 1983) and small paper hearts, two googlie eyes per student, one pom-pom per student and either a small piece of tape or magnetic tape per student.
Grades K – 1:

  1. Read the “Bucket Filler” story and share experiences that relate to those in the story.  (10 minutes)
  2. Read the story about Rosie and ask students to identify the character’s bucket filling behaviors. (10 minutes)
  3. Activity Sheets: Students color an activity sheet showing the bucket from the story. A letter to parents is included on the back of the sheet so that parents can use the same concepts at home.  (When starting this program, this letter can be used for all grade levels.)  (10 minutes)
  4. Game: Use a pail decorated to look like the “Bucket Filler” bucket.  Children pull a star or heart out and share something they would do for a mom, dad, sibling, cousin or friend.  Stars are color coded so they know which person it is for. For example if they pull a pink star it is for a mom or grandma, etc. (10 minutes)


Grades 2-3:

  1. Read both books.  Ask students to identify how the stories are similar.  (20 minutes)
  2. Discuss what it means to “pass it forward.”  Ask children what nice thing they might do for someone and how they think the next person would pass on the act of kindness.  (10 minutes)
  3. Activity Sheets:  Second graders fill in, decorate, and hand out stars that will fill other’s buckets. Third graders identify bucket filling behavior and complete a work sheet called “Pass it on.” (See attached worksheet) (10 minutes)


Grades 4 – 5:

  1. Read the “Bucket Filler” story and the “Warm Fuzzy” story (Note: read pages 1-23 also read pages 30-32 and page 41. Change the wording on pages 31 and 32 by removing with big hips and on 32 Hip Woman to Bucket Woman. Also on page 41 leave out the first sentence.)  Ask students to tell how the two stories are alike and how they are different and to identify the positive behaviors in their lives.  (25 minutes)
  2. Students may make “Warm Fuzzies” by cutting out hearts, writing a “Warm Fuzzy or Bucket Filler” behavior they have seen on the heart and then gluing on googlie eyes and pom poms. Use tape or magnetic tape to attach it to a desk so that the “Warm Fuzzy” can be displayed to remind everyone of the importance of showing respect.  (10 minutes)


All Grades – Closing Reflection:
Either at the end of the lesson or the next day, ask students to share the “Bucket Filling” activities that they are noticing and how they made them feel. Ask how they felt when they filled a bucket.  If anyone experienced “Bucket Dipping,” ask how that made them feel.
To see how the project is working, tally the number of stars handed out and take time each day to hear that children are still focusing on being “Bucket Fillers.” Create a survey to see how the children, staff, and parents feel about the program and if they believe they are seeing more respectful behavior.