Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Full Is YOUR Bucket? A GREAT book for classrooms, and families!

I am such a proud teacher, I really do love my job and love to say that OFTEN.  The best thing is, what began as a stressful school year (because it's a split class -- new to me, and TWO new grades at that) has become more routine and happy now!  We are sailing along and learning so much, and best of all my kids have really learned to treat each other with respect.  There is a lot of good stuff happening at school, and a lot of the stress is disappearing.  Hooray!  It just takes getting into a routine, and then all is well.

One of my favourite things to do is to build a sense of a "classroom family" within my classroom.  I absolutely LOVE the book "How Full Is Your Bucket?" -- I discovered it a couple of years ago.  This is in no way a sponsored post, if you're wondering, I'm just seriously passing along something I really enjoy using in my classroom.

I read "How Full Is Your Bucket?" to my class early in the school year, within the first two weeks.  We discuss the concepts found in the book - that we all have this invisible bucket, and we are either bucket fillers or bucket dippers.  We fill other peoples buckets in various ways (my class and I brainstorm how to fill a bucket), and we empty (or dip) into each other's buckets when we are disrespectful or unkind.  The kids REALLY get this concept.  Many teachers in our school are beginning to use this book, and even the kindergarten aged children are understanding much more about being nice and being a good friend through this idea.  It's very powerful!

The next thing I do with my class is introduce them to the idea of leaving appreciation statements for one another.  I have a large bucket outline drawn on chart paper, and the kids fill out these small rectangular pieces of paper that have a template on them for sharing what you appreciate a peer for.  So they say:  "I appreciate _________ because _____________ .  From: ____________".  The kids fill in the blanks (obviously the blanks are bigger).  They leave the statements in my mailbox, and I put a sticker on them and then tape them to the large bucket outline, just outside our classroom door (because they like to appreciate kids from other classes sometimes too).

At the end of the month, I'm taking down the appreciations and creating a Wordle out of them.  I'm then able to post these Wordles on our classroom wall for the whole school year, and we can have fun tracking the main reasons we have appreciated others -- which leads to great discussions about even more ways we can do nice things and show respect and friendship.  This is my first year doing the Wordle, but our first one from September and October appreciations is amazing, so I think this will be a powerful add on to the appreciation statements.  The kids get to take home the appreciations that were written to them.
Our September/October appreciation Wordle
One of the best parts of this, which happened quite naturally but which I am so very proud of, is that my kids have begun to appreciate others anonymously.  Rather than leaving their name, after "From: ____" they are beginning to write "a friend", "a mystery man", etc.  The cool part of this is, they are learning that they can appreciate others without needing someone to thank them back, or without needing someone to in turn write an appreciation to them.  This is so powerful, and shows this project moving towards intrinsic motivation for kindness.

It feels good to fill a bucket, as much as it feels good when someone else fills yours.  That's another concept in the book - by filling others' buckets, we fill our own too.  My students this year are REALLY getting that idea, and I just love this easy way of building a caring classroom community, and a positive climate for learning.  Give it a try for yourself!

I bet you could even do something like this in your household amongst your children and family members if they need to learn a little more about showing appreciation and recognizing ways to appreciate others (family members or even strangers -- "I appreciated the person who held the door open for me at the mall" is just as nice, it stretches their positive thinking when they recognize the positives in the world!).   You could make a bucket template for your fridge, and stick appreciation statements on it with magnets!  It would also make for great conversation topics over the dinner table.

Speaking of great things for the family and kids, Disney/Pixar's Brave is out on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack TODAY!  I have FOUR copies to give away... so enter on this post here for a chance to win!  Contest ends 12:01 am on November 23rd!


  1. This is an amazing book and I've seen it used in several classrooms!

  2. I am putting this on my wish list for Christmas! Keep on sharing your amazing teaching/parenting gems with me please!!!

  3. This sounds like an amazing book. I'll look for it as a Christmas gift.

  4. Oh my goodness, I love that concept! I am definitely going to buy this for my daughter's classroom. Thank you for sharing this post.


When asking yourself, "Comment or don't comment?" the answer is ALWAYS COMMENT! C'mon, you know you want to.