Do you want your students to treat others with kindness and respect in the classroom?  If so, you need to teach them how to be bucket fillers!  In this post, I will explain what it means to be a bucket filler, give you some ideas for activities you can do in the classroom, and recommend some great books about bucket filling.  My students have loved the idea of being bucket fillers, and I hope yours do, too!

What Are Bucket Fillers?

Children helping each otherBucket fillers are people who bring happiness to those around them by being kind, generous, and respectful, which also brings happiness to themselves.  The concept is that every person has an invisible bucket.  At any time, each person’s bucket is at a certain level.  When a person’s bucket is full, they feel happy.  When a person’s bucket is empty, they feel bad.  You can fill someone’s bucket by doing something nice for them, like sharing your toy or giving a compliment.  However, you dip someone’s bucket when you do something unkind to them, like calling names or hitting.  You can teach your students to be bucket fillers, not bucket dippers, in order to make everyone in the classroom happier.  Keep reading for activities you can do with your kids to encourage them to be bucket fillers!

Ideas for the Classroom

1. Bucket Filler Friday

Teachers and students tend to thrive on routines, so I think it’s a great idea to have bucket filling as part of the classroom routine.  For me and my classroom, if it’s not on the schedule, it probably isn’t happening (at least not regularly).  That’s why I love Bucket Filler Fridays!  Now, this could take many different forms, so you need to choose what works best for your grade level and your specific class.  But here’s the gist: Every Friday, you have some activity that you do to help your kids be better bucket fillers OR recognize how they were bucket fillers during the week.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Have your students sit in a circle (for example, during Morning Meeting).  Then, each child shares a “bucket filler moment” from the week.  It could be how he or she filled someone else’s bucket or what someone did to fill his or her bucket.
  • Have a small bucket (or other kind of cup) with each child’s name in it (on popsicle sticks, pieces of paper, etc.).  Then, each student draws another student’s name.  Each child has to put a “drop” in the bucket for the kid whose name they draw.  You can have students share compliments out loud or write/draw them on pieces of paper.
  • Have students write/draw ways they were bucket fillers during the week, then hang them up in a specific spot.

All of these are great ways to build community in your classroom by encouraging your kids to be bucket fillers instead of bucket dippers!

2. Bucket Filler Anchor Chart

Anchor charts are awesome because they remind students of important things they have learned so far.  So, after you teach your kids about being bucket fillers, make an anchor chart with them!  I like to make one called “Ways to be a Bucket Filler” and write down all the different ways we can think of to be bucket fillers.  You could also make a t-chart titled “Being a Bucket Filler” and write things you should do in one column and things you shouldn’t do in the other column.

3. Bucket Filler Pocket Chart/Mailboxes

If you want your students to be able to put “drops” in their classmate’s buckets at any time, use a A Drop In Your Bucket Notespocket chart or mailboxes.  Each kid has a pocket or a slot with their name on it.  Then, when students finish early or have extra time, they can write or draw a note to put in another student’s “bucket”.  (Click on the picture to download A Drop In Your Bucket Notes FREEBIE!)  Also, make sure you have a specific time each day or week for students to check their “buckets” so they’re not distracted by it at other times.  This is a great way to build classroom community!

4. Bucket Filler of the Week (or Month)

Each week (or month) choose one student who has been an awesome bucket filler.  The teacher can choose OR you can have the class vote.  Whoever wins should get something special, such as lunch with the teacher or a special chair to sit in during class.  You could also have a display on the wall where that student’s picture goes for the week, along with what they did to earn being Bucket Filler of the Week (or Month).

Bucket Filler Book Recommendations

These three book are great read-alouds that explain the concept of bucket filling and give ideas about how kids can be bucket fillers every day.  They are written in kid-friendly language, provide TONS of examples of bucket filling and bucket dipping, and are fun to read.  For more information about these books, as well as some FREE PRINTABLE ACTIVITIES to go with each one, check out my post about Read-Alouds to Teach Kindness in the Classroom.

1. How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids

Watch a read aloud of this book here!

How Full is Your Bucket? for Kids cover

2. Bucket Filling from A-Z

Watch a read aloud of this book here!

Bucket Filling from A-Z cover

3. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Watch a read aloud of this book here!

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? cover


I hope you can use some of these suggestions and activities in your classroom!  Teaching my students to be bucket fillers has made a huge difference in how they treat each other.  I hope you find the same thing with your kiddos!

Do you have other suggestions about turning your students into bucket fillers?  If so, leave a comment below or send me an email!