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Have You Filled A Bucket Today: A Story About Kindness

Updated on April 20, 2012

What is Bucket Filling?

Have you filled a bucket today? That’s the question that author Carol McCloud wants to know. The concept of filling a bucket is a simple, yet effective one. Everyone carries around an imaginary bucket. If you do something nice for someone, you not only fill your “imaginary bucket” but you also fill your own. If you do something mean or hurtful to someone else, you are stealing from their bucket and in return you are emptying your own bucket as well. It is a sort of modern day twist on the golden rule. As you do unto others, you are in return building positive self-worth within yourself. This story is one shared in classrooms all over the country. An easy concept for children to understand, but one with such a powerful message. A message that is meant for children but that adults can certainly learn from and live by. Simply stated, bucket filling is just plain being nice to one another and treating each other with mutual respect, something that seems to be lost in today’s society.

Bucket Filling Opportunities

So how can you fill someone’s bucket? Bucket filling is easy and does not have to cost a thing. Filling someone’s bucket can include things like smiling at someone, taking out the garbage for your mom, sending someone a note thanking them for all that they do, or offering to volunteer for a charity organization. The possibilities are only as endless as your kind heart will take you. The simplest act can mean the most to someone.  Try it and see how good you feel.

Bucket Filling in the Classroom

In my classroom, we try to fill each other’s bucket each day. I have found that although it was once expected that children come to school with the understanding that they are treat to adults and their peers with respect, that is not the case today. Respect and kindness is one more lesson taught during that school day. At the beginning of the school year I read the story “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” I then create a poster that has a bucket with each student’s name on it. As we go about our day, we recognize when someone does or says something to fill another person’s bucket. It is written down on a piece of paper and put in a box. At the end of the day, we read the papers and hand out hearts or stars to put in our buckets. Both the person who did the act of kindness along with the recipient get a star or heart to add thus representing filling your bucket while filling someone else's. It is a great way to build classroom community, trust, and respect within the classroom. As the year progresses, there is less emphasis on the actual hearts and stars for the buckets because the acts of kindness have become a part of their natural response within our classroom.  It's not the begining of the year you say?  That's ok.  When I first discovered this book, it was March.  I went back to my classroom and read the story and discussed it.  That year I didn't create the poster but we did take time to publicly notice the acts of "bucket filling" happening in class.


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    • sunkentreasure profile image



      To go to the ends of the world

      to help a stranger

      To give someone incredible kindness

      they will never forget

      To treat animals and all of nature

      with respect and compassion

      These are the things that give life true purpose.

      To value your special uniqueness

      as a beautiful child of God

      To elevate your mind

      with the higher value of integrity

      To upgrade your living environment

      planting seeds to enrich the soul

      To give a child caring devotion

      so they feel they are loved

      To rise above your circumstances

      with faith in the power of God

      And with the purity of healing love

      in your heart

      your life will know no boundaries.

      © Bernard Levine

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Up, Useful, Interesting, and shared. It's excellent that you are teaching loving kindness by precept, story, and example.

      The same concept is expressed in the Malvina Reynolds song "Magic Penny". Here she is singing it:

      The song says that, like a magic penny, love is something if you give it away, you end up having more. The same goes for kindness, compassion, caring, and goodwill.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Cyndi. I hope that you are able to fill lots of buckets today as well! Have a great day!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Aw, this is soo sweet. I hope I can fill lots of buckets today after reading this. Both your own kiddos and your school kiddos love this concept, I bet. :) Beautifully written.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      I agree Jools99! If more people lived their lives this way, the world would be a much happier place. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      I like this idea which is very simple for children to understand. As a philosophy for life, it sounds pretty sound to me!

      Voted up, shared, etc, etc

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks so much tarajeyaram, what a nice surprise! I will have to check out the hub. Thanks again.

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 6 years ago from Wonderland

      I really enjoyed reading your hub. Great tips on the Golden rule. I choose this hub as one of my fav hub for the week of Feb 5th. Thank you.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, Jean2011, it is a wonderful lesson for children to practice making others happy but even more so the feeling of good and happiness that they receive in return. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      Thanks HennieN I appreciate your encouraging words. I agree, parents should really set the example for their children. Thanks for your feedback.

    • HennieN profile image

      HennieN 6 years ago from South Africa

      Wow - what apowerful hub. So simple though so powerful.

      When we as parents starts "using": our buckets, our children will follow suit.

    • jean2011 profile image

      jean2011 6 years ago from Canada

      What a great way to teach students how not to be selfish, and to focus on what they can do to make someone happy. I have voted this hub to be beautiful and useful. Thank you for sharing!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      MsDora, you must have been posting your comment as I was posting mine! Thank you for your kind comments. I agree that kindness goes a long way and impacts people beyond that initial act. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Yes HBN,it is one of my favorite ways to start out the school year. I'm looking forward to doing this with my new class this year.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Tanya. Definitely look for them, they are a great teaching tool.

      Flora, I like the poem too but it was just an addition to the hub to show kindness. It does not necessarily represent "bucket filling,"although the words would fit into the premise of the story. The bucket filling idea is with the story and actions behind the story. Thanks for reading.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful! Great hub and greater job in the classroom. Lessons in kindness and respect affect more lives than we know and in more ways than we imagine.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I love the poem by Barrett. I've not heard of this being referred to as "Filling a Bucket" before.

    • TanyaBlanck profile image

      TanyaBlanck 6 years ago from Moorpark, Ca

      I love this concept! I haven't heard of these books, but now I definitely want to look into them. Thanks for posting this!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      What a wonderful way for a teacher to start a new school year.

      Sounds like a great book and I love the way you incorporate it into your classroom. Focusing on the kind acts of others and ourselves is a way to help kids make kindness a habit instead of just a random act. Great hub. Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      I'm so glad Hyphenbird! It is one of my favorites to start out the school year with. In fact, I need to dust it off soon! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      What a great teaching book and opportunity to help others. I am going to suggest this to my son's teacher. Thanks.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      You are a very visual person to imagine such things as you read! It is a great story and there are great illustrations in it as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment Remvbrandz.

    • rembrandz profile image

      Remy Francis 6 years ago from Creative Zone Dubai

      Such lovely tips you have shared here. I was inspired ...being very interested in Kids Illustrations, I saw all these pictures popping up with ideas while I read your hub. Thank you!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Kristine! I really appreciate your support.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Praise God for you. This is a fabulous Hub. Thank you for sharing. Voted Up!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      It really is a simple concept but really drives home this idea to children. It is one of my favorite books to use in my classroom. Thanks for commenting.

    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 6 years ago from North York, Canada

      What a beautiful concept, and a simple yet profound one to introduce to young children. Beautiful and awesome!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 7 years ago from Michigan

      I thank her too! :) I try hard although I am not always successful. I appreciate the kind comments and am glad that you stopped by to read.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I thank your mother for sending me your way! This is truly an inspiring article. I am always writing on the common sense aspect of life and trying to instill kindness in/on people. I am so glad to read that your making this a part of the teaching process!

      Teachers have such a large influence on our children, when they succeed we all succeed. Thumbs up all the way around!!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 7 years ago from Michigan


      Thank you for stopping by and reading. I really do try to promote kindness and respect in my classroom. Many of my students come to school so angry without knowing how to effectively handle it. This is one way that we work on it. I will check out your hub, thanks!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Wow, What a great hub! I really respect how you are trying to teach kids lessons that go far beyond the classroom. Your hub reminds us all to be a little kinder. I wrote a hub on kindness a while ago. You might want to visit me and let me know your thoughts on it. Thanks for sharing, you helped fill my bucket today. I rated your hub up and beautiful. Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you Deborah. The past two years that I have used this concept in my classroom, I have really seen a difference in the way my students treat each other. We have our ups and downs but more ups!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Love this hub, and i love the concept. What a great idea for families and classrooms. Thanks for sharing.


    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 7 years ago

      This is an excellent idea and thanks for sharing this wonderful way of promoting goodwill in the classroom.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I've been thinking some thing else regarding your title but been drawn to its content. I still have my bucket list, been writing it on my diary every year and challenge myself to do good deeds everyday.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks, I try. Sometimes adults overlook even the simplist of ideas. Thanks for visiting.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 7 years ago from Illinois

      As you said, this is a lesson even adults need to learn. I think you came up with a great visual teaching tool.

      I voted it up and look forward to reading more.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      WOW! I am learning so much from you. Another wonderful story you've shared that I was unaware of before now. This is a beautiful example of the Golden Rule. I loved the photo you used. Thanks for sharing. I bookmarked it. You are an awesome teacher.