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Bucket Fillers

Halfway through the year last year I decided to start doing Bucket Fillers in my classroom after reading about it online! I love using it because it’s all about giving compliments and building each other up, which of course we all want our students to do!

We started by reading the story Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
by Carol McCloud. It introduces the concept that everyone has an invisible bucket, and when we say nice things we fill the bucket, but when we say mean or hurtful things we dip from the bucket. My students love the bright, colorful pictures and they can really relate to this concept. They know how it makes them feel when people say mean things to them vs. when people say nice things to them and they definitely want to hear the nice things more than the hurtful ones!

In order to do bucket filling in the classroom, you have to have some kind of “bucket” or spot for each child to hold notes that other students write. 

I appologize for the glare, but this is my bucket filler board! It is at the front of my classroom and I have a pocket for each of my students and then a bucket (bottom left) where the blank bucket filler notes are kept.

I got the plastic organizer thingy at the Target Dollar Spot a while back, and I also got the pink dotted bucket from there! I don’t think they have the organizers anymore, but I saw some at Michaels the other day with 30+ slots if you are looking for something similar!

After reading the book we talk about different things we can say to other people when we notice them doing something special or kind. We talk about being specific! I tell them I don’t want to see any notes saying “you are nice” or similar statements. They should refer to something specific that the student said or did that they noticed and thought deserved a special note.

Throughout the day when students are finished with their tasks, they may write a note to another student and put it in their bucket. By Friday all the buckets are filled with several positive notes!

I made these “business cards” from Vistaprint after seeing them on someone’s site, but I can’t remember whose! If you know or if they were your idea, please let me know so I can give you credit!!
I got 250 of these cards for free during one of their promotions and they were great, however they were out within a week! I will probably order more of them this summer to start off the year, but then after that I will be going back to printouts that I can just make a bunch of copies of!
On Fridays my students get to read the notes that are in their buckets. After they are all packed up, they can go to their buckets to grab the slips and then have a seat on the carpet and read them while we are waiting for everyone to be ready for our read-aloud! It is a great way to end the week and my kiddos are so anxious to read their notes!
I’m going to have to be updating by bucket filler board for next year since I will no longer have my wonderfully small-sized class, so I will definitely share it with you when I set it up in August!
  1. MrsMc says:

    I love the idea of bucket fillers. It helps the students notice others and really promotes a positive classroom environment.

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  2. Molly, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Bucket Fillers. I did it last year with my third graders and it was a huge morale booster! I plan to do it this upcoming year with my fourth graders. I love the way you have yours organized and the "business cards" are super cute!

    Fierce in Fourth

  3. Lisa R. says:

    Thank you Molly for your post. I used Bucket Fillers last year & it really was great. My buckets kept falling down the way I had them, so this organizer is exactly what I'm looking for. I will have to head to Michael's to check it out. Thanks for sharing! 馃檪
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  4. Your "buckets" are cute!! I love the bucket filler idea! I used it when I taught pre-school and the kids were so proud to fill their friends' buckets!

  5. Tonya says:

    I love doing bucket fillers:) One year I had individual bucks and last year I had a class bucket! I will be doing the class bucket again! I plan on doing monthly lessons with bucket filling to remind them about filling buckets-they always seem to forget;)

    Tonya鈥檚 Treats for Teachers

  6. Hey Molly! I loooooove the board colors you chose! I love bucket filling too! Wow! You only had 12 students last year? How were you so lucky?Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hi! It is good to be back in the swing of things! I hope you have a good start to your year!!!

    One Teacher's Take

  7. I loved seeing your Bucket Filler board! I've incorporated bucket filling in my classroom over the past several years, but I'm always looking for new ideas! Thanks for sharing!
    Fourth and Ten
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    Formerly Stories From Second

  8. Brianne says:

    I bought the book yesterday! I am going to give this a shot this year!


    From Behind the Lavender Door

  9. jb says:

    I LOVE this idea. I used the book How Full is Your Bucket with my students this past year and referred back to it many times throughout the year. I really like how you've extended the activity. Awesome!
    Parched Paper

  10. Heather says:

    I love Bucket Fillers! I spent all of last year subbing full time and a lot of the schools used this as a behavior system and the students got to fill their own buckets (just like in the book) when they filled others buckets through small rewards for being a great bucket filler (also tied into behavior charts) It was a great tool as you can ask them if they are being a bucket filler when you want them to make better decisions and it s abit more concrete. I even found myself saying this to my eighth grade boys (who, of course, laughed at me). I was looking for a cute way to incorporate this into my (first ever) classroom this fall and i LOVE the shoe organizer ideas. Very sleek! Thanks!

  11. Erin says:

    I'm your newest follower! I love your Bucket Filler business cards, too cute! 馃檪

    Elementary Adventure

  12. ali naqvi says:

    Really inspiring post…it will giving me new idea's for choosing different designs for my plastic cards,
    keep it up..!!!!!!!

  13. shafique ali says:

    This is fantastic
    idea….really inspiring post..!!!!!!

  14. SCSD says:

    I need a bucket filling organizer idea for my Afterschool program. I have over 200 students in about 15 classrooms. My idea is to have each student have their own place to put in, that would make count up at the end of each incentive period easier because they are already sorted by student. The issues are they would need to be portable ( taken out of the classroom each day so they can't fall out) Also no budget for it so would have to be made relatively cheap for 15 classrooms…I love the shoe organizer but expense and not closeable..Help

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I support teachers with implementing classroom organization systems and building a positive classroom community + environment that exude joy! 

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