If you haven’t read “Have you Filled a Bucket Today?” before, you must! (McCloud, C. (2006). Have you filled a bucket today: A guide to daily happiness for kids. Northville, MI: Ferne Press.). It is a great book to read at the beginning of the year to get kids thinking about being kind to other, bullying, etc. There are so many ways to use this text! I use it to talk about specific actions I should and should not see in the classroom during the school year.
After reading the book aloud, I ask students to think about prior school years. In what ways did others “fill their buckets” and how were others “bucket dippers?” When a few students have shared their ideas, I talk about how we will work towards always being “bucket fillers” in our classroom. I then give them a simple activity to do that gets them thinking about specific words and actions that will create a community full of bucket fillers.
Each student gets a sheet with two buckets, another with sentence strips printed on it, and a work mat. On each strip, they write ways that they could be a bucket filler and ways or actions that would make them a bucket dipper. They decorate the buckets, cut them out and then glue the correct sentence strips to the back of each bucket (sentences that show positive actions go in the “ways to be a bucket filler”). Then students glue the buckets onto the framed mat.
After most students have finished, I ask everyone to return to the meeting area to share. I’m always surprised by some of their ideas! While there are always the typical answers, such as “be nice to others,” or “help someone around you,” there always seem to be a few that show genuine thought and creativity. I make a big display of all the buckets on one of our bulletin boards in the room and keep them up for the first few weeks. They serve not only as our first pieces of student work, but also as reminders of expected behaviors. I also like to leave extra sentence strips near the board for students to write additional bucket filling ideas as they weeks go by.