Does your class love the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? If so, they’ll truly love these bucket filler activities. If you haven’t read this bestseller yet, here’s the concept: We each carry an imaginary bucket around with us. Being kind to others fills their buckets and our own. When we’re not kind, we dip into others’ buckets. Bucket filler activities encourage kids to recognize their own “filling” and “dipping” activities throughout the day and to try to fill as many buckets as they can. Give them a try in your classroom today!
1. Read a bucket filler book
Whether you read the original or one of the many charming follow-ups, a bucket filler book or two (or three, or four!) is a must for kicking off all of your bucket filler activities.
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids: The book that started it all! Learn all about bucket fillers and dippers and how to apply them in your life.
- ¿Has Llenado una Cubeta Hoy?: Una Guía Diaria de Felicidad para Niños: The same bucket filling story you love, in both Spanish and English.
- Buckets, Dippers, and Lids: Secrets to Your Happiness (McCloud/Zimmer): This follow-up reminds kids that sometimes they can control who they allow to dip into their bucket and take away their happiness, by using a lid.
- Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life: If you’re looking for a way to share bucket filling with older kids, try this chapter book that’s perfect for upper elementary and middle school.
2. Don a bucket filler t-shirt
These cute t-shirts come in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes, and in a variety of colors. Wear one to remind your students to fill each other’s buckets, or offer one as a prize in a bucket filler contest!
Buy it: Bucket Filler T-shirt/Amazon
3. Create an anchor chart
Help kids understand what a bucket filler does and says with a simple anchor chart. When you’re done, post it on the wall as a daily reminder of the best bucket filler activities.
Learn more: Crafting Connections
4. Sing a bucket filler song
Play this video for your students, and they’ll quickly learn the words so they can sing along too. The song has lots of helpful suggestions for how kids can help fill each others’ buckets.
5. Sort bucket fillers from bucket dippers
Give students a stack of pre-printed behaviors, and ask them to sort the phrases into “bucket fillers” and “bucket dippers.” Tip: Include some blank slips and have kids fill in their own behaviors to add to either list.
Learn more: Third Grade Thoughts
6. Color a bucket filler picture
Ask your students to illustrate a bucket filling activity, or give them a page from this cute coloring book. It includes a page for every letter, A to Z.
7. Work to fill a classroom bucket
Encourage your class to fill a communal bucket as they work toward a reward. Add a star to the bucket each time you see an act of kindness in your classroom. When the bucket is full, they’ve earned the reward!
Learn more: Poet Prints
8. Keep a bucket filler journal
This journal from the author of the original book walks kids through some thought-provoking questions each day. It also provides space for their own reflections. Buy one for each student, or share the questions and ask them to write their answers in their own notebook or online journal.
9. Celebrate Bucket Filler Fridays
Take time once a week to recognize the power of kindness. Every Friday, have kids choose another student to write a bucket filler letter to. Encourage them to choose a new person each week.
Learn more: Proud to be Primary
10. Craft personalized buckets to fill
Students will love decorating a plastic cup with stickers, glitter, and more. Attach a pipe cleaner handle, and they’ve got their very own bucket!
Learn more: Moments a Day
11. Use a shoe organizer to hold buckets
This clever idea works for DIY buckets made from plastic cups or inexpensive small metal buckets. Slide each into a pocket, label them with students’ names, and provide a stack of blank “bucket filler” slips nearby. Kids write messages and leave them in the buckets for each other.
Learn more: One Kreative Kindergarten
12. Fill up a bucket for someone special
Choose someone to honor (the principal, janitor, or school secretary). Have your little ones write one word that describes that person on a heart or star, then mount them on sticks and fill up the bucket. Present the bucket to your honoree in front of the whole class.
Learn more: @the_miss_education/Instagram
13. Dress up in a bucket filler costume
Dazzle your kiddos when you grab your fellow teachers and dress up in bucket filler costumes. This is a great way to kick off a series of bucket filler activities.
Learn more: Bucket Fillers 101 (PDF)
14. Use pom-poms to fill buckets
This is a cute and quick way to fill buckets throughout the school day. Recognize bucket filler activities and behaviors by tossing a pom pom (some folks call them “warm fuzzies”) into a student’s bucket. They’ll love watching their buckets fill up!
Learn more: Meaningful Mama
15. Set a daily bucket filler activities challenge
Fill a container with a variety of bucket filler behaviors. Each day, have a student pull one from the container and challenge your kids to complete the activity before the day ends.
Learn more: Sparkling in Second Grade
16. Do a bucket fillers crossword or word search
These free printables help kids learn what a bucket filler looks like. Visit the link below to find these and other free printable resources.
Learn more: Bucket Fillers 101
17. Track bucket fillers and bucket dippers
Face it—no class is perfect. Tracking both their filler and dipper activities can help inspire your little ones to be more aware of their behavior. Encourage them to end each day with more balls in the “filler” container than the “dipper” container. (This is a great practice counting activity too.)
Learn more: Busy Bees
18. Make and eat a bucket filler snack
Getting ready for storytime? Make these adorable (and healthy) bucket snacks to eat while you read! You could also fill these with popcorn or other treats.
Learn more: Sommer’s Lion Pride
19. Fill up a teacher bucket too
Don’t forget about your own bucket! Teach students that their kindnesses can fill up their teacher’s bucket. Keep track with colorful magnets on the whiteboard so everyone can see their progress.
Learn more: Teacher to the Core
20. Write a bucket fillers book
Take a photo of each of your students and describe one way they’ve helped to fill someone’s bucket. Collate them all together into a booklet and display it when parents come to visit.
Learn more: Forever in First
21. Pass out bucket filler punch cards
Reward your little bucket fillers by filling up their punch card with a sticker (or teacher’s initials) each time they’re caught doing something kind. Kids can turn in filled cards for a treat or reward.
Learn more: @misszullo/Instagram
22. Play a bucket filler board game
In this simple board game, players work to collect four different pieces and fill up their buckets. Get the free printable game at the link below.
Learn more: Teaching Heart
23. Make little wooden reminder buckets
Help kids craft these little wooden buckets with heart and star fillers. They serve as a great reminder to live a kind life dedicated to filling buckets.
Learn more: The Art Kit Blog
24. Turn sticky notes into bucket notes
Need a quick, easy way to fill a student’s bucket? Trim the corners from a sticky note and write them a message. Bucket filled! (See more creative ways to use sticky notes in the classroom here.)
Learn more: A Blog from the Pond
25. Think about how to fill your own bucket
Keeping your own bucket full is an important part of the bucket filler philosophy. Many bucket filler activities focus on how kids can fill others’ buckets. This one asks kids to consider how they fill their own buckets with their kind behavior by crafting and filling an origami paper bucket with drops of water.
Learn more: Creativity in Therapy
Come share your own bucket filler activities and success stories in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Looking for more great reads about being kind? Take a look at our list of top kindness books for kids here.