This lesson is best done in the classroom after the first month or two of school. Its purpose is twofold: to get students thinking about their own thoughts and feelings and those of others; to give students some awareness into how their choices (words & actions) can make a difference!
Through a story and some fun, meaningful activities students will learn about the concept of “bucket-filling” and will have the opportunity to practice it in the classroom. Overall, it will help to build unity among classmates and peers.
Students will be able to classify behaviors as either “bucket fillers” or “bucket dippers”.
Students will be able to name reasons to be a “bucket filler”.
Students will be able to literally fill the buckets of their classmates and will have their own buckets filled as well!
Large sand bucket & examples of bucket fillers and bucket dippers
Large bucket posters (one per student)
Discussion about the meanings of these character traits will take place.
Teacher will tell students that they are going to learn about another way they can show respect, make responsible choices and be caring each day in and out of school.
Teacher will show class a large sand bucket and solicit ideas from students about what it is and why the teacher has it.
After interest has built, the teacher will read Have you Filled a Bucket Today? to the class. Questioning and class discussion will take
place throughout reading.
- Does everyone in our class carry an invisible bucket?
- How can you tell if someone’s bucket is empty or full?
- How do you feel when your bucket is empty? Full?
- What can you do to fill someone’s bucket? How does that make you feel?
- What happens to your bucket when you dip into someone else’s?
- People who are bullies, are they bucket dippers or fillers? Are their buckets full?
- What can we do here, in our class and school, to make sure that everyone’s bucket is full?
Guided Practice: After reading the book, the teacher will lead a “Sorting Activity,” where students will identify behaviors and comments as either “bucket fillers” or “bucket dippers.” Those that are “bucket fillers” will go in the large sand bucket and those that are “bucket dippers” will go in the trash can!
Additional examples of compliments should be taken and put into the bucket to aide with
ideas for the next activity.
Class Activity: Following the guided activity, students will be given directions for the “Bucket Filling Activity.” The teachers should distribute one large bucket poster (12”x18” paper works best) to each student. Each student should also get one marker.
The teacher will instruct students to write their own name in the center of their bucket.
Then students will be told that they are going to take some time to fill each other’s buckets.
Students will leave their own posters on their desks and will then (with careful organization and instruction) rotate around the room to every other student’s bucket. In each classmate’s bucket, they will write a compliment or something they like about that person. At the end of the activity, each student has a poster (bucket) that is filled with kind words and special thoughts!
Buckets should be done for the teachers in the class as well!
Reflection: At the conclusion of this lesson, it's necessary to give students time to study their own buckets and to share thoughts and feelings regarding the activity. Buckets can be displayed or may be taken home to share with families.
Extensions and Adaptations
A large paper bucket can be made out of bulletin board paper and displayed in the hallway. Students can put a “star” or a “heart” in the bucket when they are “caught” (by any staff member) being a bucket filler and showing good character.
Lesson can also be used to with teachers and staff during a professional development day or faculty meeting to build strong group dynamics and unity among staff.
Depending on the needs of the class, examples of bucket-filling compliments, or just descriptive words (smart, athletic, friendly, etc.) can be written on the board prior to the class activity.
Lessons can easily be adapted to fit a kindergarten/first grade class.