Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Are You a Bucket Filler?

I am excited to join Brenda from Primary Inspired and Ciera from Adventures of Room 129 for their Back to School Book Link-Up! 

This year, we start school Tuesday, August 11. This means that the first week of school will consist of four days. Yikes! In the past, we've started on Wednesday or Thursday. If you've ever endured the first week of school, you know that this extra day will really add to the stress of the week.

I'm so excited of this link-up to help me have fantastic back to school books and activities ready to go in case I need them. Oh, and...I forgot the best part: every activity in this link-up are offered FOR FREE in the teacher-bloggers' TpT stores! Yay! 

My favorite back to school read aloud is definitely How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath. For my first graders, this is a perfect avenue to reinforce how our behaviors impact others around us. And, it gives us verbiage to use throughout the year to remind one another to be kind. 

Scholastic - only $4.46!


The story is about Felix, a boy who struggles to stay in a good mood throughout the day. His grandfather uses the metaphor of "filling buckets" to illustrate to Felix how his actions impact others. 

My favorite part of the story is that it explains that, by filling someone else's bucket, you're actually filling your own, too! I love that discussion of giving to others makes you feel better, too! 


After we read the story, we discuss actions that are bucket fillers and actions that are bucket dippers. We make an anchor chart to display that list both types of actions. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of my past charts. But, here are examples of what first graders brainstorm: 

Bucket Fillers: inviting someone to play on the playground, sitting next to someone at lunch, helping clean up a spill, working hard at school, listening to directions the first time, smiling and waving when you see someone you know, etc. 

Bucket Dippers: ignoring friends, excluding friends on the playground, hands and/or feet not kept to yourself, etc. 

Last year, I implemented the "Looks Like, Sounds Like, Feels Like" format for a lot of our procedures including bucket filling, Daily 5 and writing workshop. I really liked the breakdown for my first graders. For bucket filling, the discussion went like this: 

Looks Like: friends helping each other, students working hard, students working together, teachers helping students, everyone smiling

Sounds Like: compliments, kind words, invitations ("Would you like to...?"), friendly tone of voice, manners, encouragement

Feels Like: safe, happy, caring, helpful, comfortable, kind

My biggest advice is to let the students generate these ideas. As every teacher does on a regular basis, we can lead them to what we want them to say. BUT, let them discuss - it's so much more powerful when they can determine the expectations!

My freebie for this link-up includes headers for your anchor chart! Yay! 


After our class discussions, I allow students to reflect upon themselves as bucket fillers with a writing activity. I do this with two different prompts: I Can Fill a Bucket! and I am a Bucket Filler! I like to include choice wherever I can in my classroom, so I give the kids a choice with these prompts.

The forever freebie I have for you includes these two writing prompts. It also includes sentence starters for each prompt for your little friends, if you think they should need them!

Click on the image to download your forever freebie!


The term collaboration is one that is super important in my classroom. I start this culture right away the first week of school. This book allows me to do it in a fun way! The day after we read How Full is Your Bucket?, we discuss collaboration. We define it as friends working together to reach a goal. Then, we go outside and become actual bucket fillers! 

Here's what you'll need: 
  • Two large buckets (think mop buckets like this one)
    • One of these will need to start out full of water
    • The other will need some sort of "Fill To" line here
  • One small plastic cup for each student

Students stand in a line, each holding his or her empty cup. When you say, "Go!" - the student closest to the full bucket dips his or her cup in and then transfers the water to the next person -- this movement goes on down the line until the last person in the line dumps the water to the empty bucket. The task is complete when the water reaches the "Fill To" line.  

Hopefully, you can grasp a better understanding with photos from last school year's fun!

I hope that How Full is Your Bucket? is a valuable addition to your back-to-school fun. I certainly can't wait to read it with this year's class!

Check out these other teachers' forever freebies for your back-to-school needs!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post! I love the bucket filler idea for the first week of school, I often wait and talk about this later in the year, but it is perfect for that first week and it starts the year off on the right foot. Thanks for the freebie.