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Home » Blog » Teacher Support » How to Create a Bucket Filler Classroom

How to Create a Bucket Filler Classroom

Brag Tags, Routines & Procedures, Social Skills, Teacher Support

Written by: Krys Warstillo

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:

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.

classroom anchor chart with bucket filler and bucket dipper examples

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.

Brag Tags

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.

brah tags to set uo a bucket filler classroom

Grab free bucket filler tags below!

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.

bucket filler chart with class notes to one student

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.

Morning Meetings

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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8 Comments

  1. Gladys Doherty

    Thank you for sharing your work with us. I just ordered the book How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids and can hardly wait to receive it. This book was shared within our district a few years ago but never quite caught on. I didn’t have my own copy but could borrow it from the principal. Now, I want my own! I believe in creating a positive classroom environment where every student feels wanted and safe, and to understand that words can help or harm. This will add to the fun and enjoyment of our classroom community.

    Reply
  2. Marjorie

    Love the suggestions

    Reply
  3. Angie Holt

    Love, love these. I used this last with fifth grade. Instead of using dog tags (because their teacher couldn’t find any dog tag chains) we used shower curtain hooks from Dollar General. Hooks can be hooked on bookbag, belts loops or….drum roll please… as earrings, a trend started by a group of FIFTH grade boys. Yeah, true story, I can’t make this up. I plan to use your booklets for my I CAN standards this year.

    Thank you and God Bless.

    Reply
  4. Terri Gibson

    I am assuming this is for older kids. We have preschoolers, but I think we can adapt it for their level

    Reply
  5. Kathleen

    I like the idea of students paying attention to their peers; looking for great things they do. Are there “blank” brag tags? Something the students could “make” their peer at the end of the week?

    Reply
  6. Jodi

    Hi – I realize this post is a few years old, but where can I find the brag tags pictured? Thanks!

    Reply

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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