I am a firm believer in positive and encouraging classroom environments. Students who feel safe and encouraged are being set up to take risks, challenge themselves, and work hard. There are a few ways that I achieve this in my classroom. This post will outline how to create a bucket filler classroom so your students learn how good it feels to spread kindness, challenge themselves, and work hard.
How Full is Your Bucket
If you’re looking for bucket-filling resources then you’ve probably heard of the book How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids. If you haven’t heard of it or read it, I encourage you to watch the read-aloud to get a listen before you buy it for your classroom. This book explains the concept of each of us having an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. It goes through the importance and impact of our words and actions towards others. It also describes how when we fill others’ buckets, in return, it fills our own.
Some other bucket filler books that I love to read throughout the year include:
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids (Bucketfilling Books)Bucket Filling from A to Z: The Key to Being Happy
- Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children
Bucket Filler Anchor Chart
After reading the story, we move into some class discussion. I ask my students the question, “What are some ways we can fill our own and one another’s buckets this year?” Then I instruct them to “turn and teach”. At that point, the kids turn and face a partner. They take turns telling their partner ideas for bucket-filling choices. After approximately 1-2 minutes, we return to our whole group conversation and the students share some of their ideas aloud. We then work together to begin creating an anchor chart.
I like to make sure that we’re also talking about things that are bucket dippers. So, as we create the anchor chart we discuss some bucket dipping choices and add those as well. Remember to include not only writing but simple drawings of each choice for your emerging readers and English language learners. Stick figures and basic shapes are fine! Just something quick so your anchor is accessible to all of your students.
I would recommend hanging this anchor chart on your classroom wall or the back of the door they use to enter and exit the classroom. That way they’re seeing it and getting a visual reminder often.
Time to Practice With Bucket Filler Activities
Here’s where the fun begins. The kids now understand some of your classroom expectations and the behaviors and actions they should strive towards. They also understand the importance of using words to fill their classmates’ buckets. Now they get to put this all to action.
Use Brag Tags! At the beginning of the week, each student gets the name of somebody in their class. It is their responsibility to look for something positive from that student. It can be something written on yout anchor chart or something different. On the final day of the week, the students create their bucket filler tag. They’ll choose the tag that matches the compliment. They can use pencils, markers, or crayons to get creative. Then they deliver their tag to the student. Give them about 5 minutes to share with each other why they chose to compliment them on that specific behavior. At that point, the students put their tags on a necklace, binder ring, library pocket, take-home folder, brag tag book, or even in their pencil box.
Grab free bucket filler tags below!
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Student of the Day
This activity is SO EASY and my students absolutely loved it. Take a giant stick note or some poster paper and hang it on your wall/whiteboard. Select a student to stand with their back to the sticky note. This is your Student of the Day. The Student of the Day can’t turn around and look at the sticky note until the activity is over. Next, have all your other students take turns writing things they find admirable about the Student of the Day on the sticky note. You’ll hear a lot of giggles from the Student of the Day who stands there not knowing what everyone is writing. Once all your students have had a turn let the Student of the Day turn around and read the kind things their classmates wrote about them! They can then roll up the note and take it home to share with their family.
Social Emotional Learning with Toothy
You and I both know that some of our little learners need practice if you’re aiming for a bucket filling classroom. It’s a tough skill even for adults to get right. That’s why I love using Toothy task cards to build up important social-emotional skills. They give the students low-stakes real-world scenarios to read and think through.
You can use these Toothy cards as a whole group activity or let students practice independently. I also love them for homework because they can open up the door for good conversations at home.
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Having a bucket filling classroom is great but you know what’s even better? Bucket filler classroom management. What do I mean? A class full of kind and thoughtful learners lends itself to a more productive, a calmer, and a more on task classroom. That’s why I love Morning Meetings. They serve as an easy way to sprinkle in social-emotional learning to help build a community of bucket fillers.
Here’s the truth, if your students are struggling with kindness, cooperation, caring, compassion, or community it’s going to take consistent practice to improve the culture of your classroom. Reading a book and doing one single activity aren’t going to cut it. Add in daily practice to keep students making baby steps toward the bucket filling classroom of your dreams. It’s okay if it takes a little time. Start each day with a conversation that can help shape expectations for your students.
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