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Teaching Students to "Fill the Bucket": An Overview

By Beth Newingham on August 6, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

While I work hard to ensure that I am providing my students with the best academic instruction on a daily basis, I also take time to teach the students in my classroom to be good citizens who care for and respect each other.

While teaching these "life skills" should certainly not fall solely on the shoulders of us teachers, I do believe it is important to help build good character in our students. Teachers can help students value themselves and each other when we encourage them to be helpful, compassionate, unselfish classmates.

In my classroom, my teaching partner and I call these positive students "bucket fillers." As the Bucket Fillers website explains, "'Bucket fillers' are those who help without being asked, give hugs and compliments, and generally spread their love and good feelings to others." Bucket filling is a common act in our classroom and one that does not go unrecognized!

While this may seem "babyish" to some upper elementary teachers, I think you will be surprised how the activity truly helps students build stronger bonds with their classmates at any grade level. An atmosphere of respect and care for each other is quickly established and maintained throughout the school year. I strongly suggest reading the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? before implementing this activity in your classroom.  Everything will make much more sense once you completely understand the concept.

Comments (2)

Beth, thank you ever so much for all that you do... I am 61 but love teaching more than ever, thanks to your wonderful adabtable ideas!! Marsha

Hello Beth,

Thank you for sharing your ideas. Great job!


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