Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?



March Madness: It's not just a bunch of basketball games

Is it just me, or do the wee little darlings get a little squirrelly this time of year? I don't know if it's because the weather has kept us cooped up inside for months, or if the stress of state testing is starting to affect us all, but March is always a little....off. The tattling increases, petty argument rates are up, and my nerves start to get fried. I always find that I need to spend some time reinforcing our classroom community in order to right the ship again. Last week, "Team Turner" revisited the book, "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" and are refocusing our energies on kindness and positivity within our little community.



This year, Team Turner became bucket fillers. At the beginning of the year, I read aloud the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carol McCloud. Before reading it, I feared it may be too juvenile for my third graders, but I was wrong. I think it's awesome and a great message for any upper elementary classroom. 

For anyone who isn't familiar with the book, the basic idea is that everyone in the world carries around an invisible bucket. That bucket can either be filled or dipped into. When our buckets are full, we feel happy and have high self-esteem. When our buckets are empty, we feel sad and have negative feelings about ourselves. When we are kind to others, we fill their buckets, which in turn fills our own. It's such a simple but powerful metaphor.

If I taught fourth or fifth grade, I'd likely just use the book as a read aloud. But since my third graders still respond so well to visual and hands-on reminders, I decided to implement a concrete Bucket Filling system in my classroom. 

After reading the book, we brainstormed ways to fill someone's bucket. We put a few of our favorites up on a poster that serves as a reminder.  I've since jazzed it up with a chevron-themed bulletin board pack (I'll post a link at the end of the post), because honestly, everything is better in chevron.

I found small metal buckets from Target for $1 apiece (which was a little more expensive this year than I would have liked with 29 students...sigh). (Click here for similar buckets on Amazon - you can even get little chalk labels to write students' names.) I've seen people use shoe organizers, tupperware, and other things as "buckets", too. 

I made yarn balls to use as the bucket fillers themselves. Let me rephrase -- I made about 50 yarn balls before realizing that trying to make enough yarn balls for the entire class to have a bucket's worth was COMPLETELY INSANE, and then proceeded to order a jumbo pack of pompoms on Amazon. Anyway.... 



After experimenting with about 1,000 different configurations of this, I settled on hanging the buckets on the front of my desk using magnetic clips. It's not the prettiest looking thing in the world, but I wasn't willing to sacrifice valuable counter space to house the buckets. I wrote each student's name on the bucket with chalk.

When students do something kind, help a classmate, give a compliment, etc. they place a pompom in that student's bucket AND in their own. It's a great visual reminder that our words and actions not only affect others, but they also affect the way that we view ourselves.

When a student fills his or her bucket, he or she dumps out the pompoms and ties a ribbon around the handle. The pompoms and ribbons are housed next to the buckets. I bought some cheap-o tubs and ribbons at the Dollar Tree.

The best part about the bucket filling system is that it is completely student-run. It was really important to me that this was something that helped to support and encourage positive behavior - not something that would add an additional management task to my day. I don't monitor students' pompoms, I don't make them write down how they filled a bucket, and there's no prize for filling a bucket X amount of times. The prize is having a full bucket - metaphorically speaking. And if they put a pompom in that isn't REALLY deserved? I've decided that's alright. They are taking a step in the right direction. Some kids use it ALL the time, some kids use it a few times a week, and some kids have barely touched it since the beginning of the year. And that is ok with me. The kids that need it find their way to it. After rereading the book last week, students got excited about being bucket fillers all over again.

I have a few bucket filling items available in my TpT store. The "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" mini-poster that you can see in the last picture is a freebie available in my store. Click the caption to download a copy for your own classroom:
Click here to download the poster for free!

I also made a Bulletin Board poster pack to match the mini-poster, because my handwritten sign just wasn't doing it for me. :) I don't have pictures of it in my classroom, but if you're interested, there's a free preview to check out at my store. It's got 24 ways to fill a bucket, along with bucket filling sheets for anyone who wants students to write. Click here to check it out!
                   

How do YOU deal with March Madness in your classroom?! I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Stay Connected:


Happy Teaching!

16 comments:

  1. So fun! What a great idea. I also think the buckets look fine. I wouldn't want to give up that much counter space either. Thanks for sharing this great idea. Have a great day!
    -Mr. Hughes
    An Educator's Life

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John! I left out the part about how having the buckets on my desk leads to them being knocked off and scattered pretty frequently....BUT that leads to more bucket filling opportunities as students rush to help clean up! So, I just pretend that's part of the plan! :)

      Delete
  2. What a lovely idea! I can't think of too many things we teach that are more important than kindness.

    I like the buckets on your desk, too. I think they look really fun!

    Thanks for sharing. I love this post! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much!! :) I agree about how important it is to spend time on character ed....it can be easy to get swept up in all the other things we have to do this time of year, but it makes such a difference.

      Delete
  3. It is not just you. I find teaching in March is a challenge. Thank you for the great ideas. My class needs to refocus on kindness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. THANK YOU for explaining bucket filling to me! I've seen it around but never actually explained. I love your display and the posters are cute :) Also I love that it's student-run instead of all about how many times the bucket gets filled. I'm curious though; do you ever have them take out poms?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was the same way until this summer - I kept hearing about it but had no clue what it was until I finally took to google. :) As for taking the pompoms out, I know that some teachers have students do it when they are being bucket dippers, but ultimately I decided against it. I wanted this to be purely a positive experience. For me, taking the poms out would have made this feel more like a behavior management system, rather than as a supplemental character building exercise. I decided I had enough other consequences built into my management routine to deal with bucket dipping. But I can definitely understand why other teachers might disagree!

      Delete
  5. I read this book to my students at the beginning of the year too. I agree that the topic needs to be revisited, and I may even start the visual bucket-filling with pom-poms. I would be willing to start a new system in March if it helps the rest of the year run smoothly! Thanks for the reminder about this book :)

    Rebecca
    Ladybugs Lounge

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment!! I was a little nervous at first about the actual buckets/pom poms as I did NOT want to be in charge of yet another system....but it really does run itself so I've found it to be really easy. Definitely something that could be put in to your routine mid-year, especially if your kids are already familiar with the book. :)

      Delete
  6. This is great. What is really cool is when multiple grade levels do it and then the terminology carries over for following years. Plus everyone knows we're all in it together.

    matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! I've heard of a few places that do it as a school-wide effort which I'd love to see where I work. Such a great community-building opportunity!

      Delete
  7. I just came across this on Pinterest while searching for ideas to get the class back on track. I'm a long term sub, and the transition from their former teacher to me as the teacher has been a little rough. Thanks for the great idea!

    Sarah Beth
    Miss White's Classroom

    ReplyDelete
  8. How can I get a copy of your mini poster? I can't find it in your tpt store. I'd really like to use "bucket fillers" this year and the poster would be a great compliment (I love Chevron).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for explaining the filling process. I wasn't sure how to proceed but it is indeed a great idea to put one pompom in our friend's bucket and one in our own.
    And your buckets look great! Love the metallic buckets! Looks less childish.
    Valerie, from HongKong
    www.jtlts.net

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for explaining the filling process. I wasn't sure how to proceed but it is indeed a great idea to put one pompom in our friend's bucket and one in our own.
    And your buckets look great! Love the metallic buckets! Looks less childish.
    Valerie, from HongKong
    www.jtlts.net

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Blogging tips