Maria is the mother of a 4 year old boy who use the Reggio Emilia teaching method in their home. When I asked her about being A Bucket Filler she responded with this:
“It is a rule in our house to be a bucket filler, which is the easy part, and I pointed out some examples in the comments, which I will repeat below, but over all, it’s implementation varies and is sometimes hard to describe.
We own two books on bucket-filling (linked in the post), and when we read those books, we talk about what is bucket filling behavior (positive) or bucket dipping. In doing so, we ask TB to list his own ideas of what does or does not fill each category. While out, we often times use the bucket terminology too, as it helps TB bring the concept in to the here and now. So, for example, if someone gives us a seat on the train for TB, we can talk about how s/he filled our bucket.
We also try to demonstrate bucketfilling behavior ourselves, and encourage TB to demonstrate it too. When he does or we do, we point it out to one another (i.e. you filled his/her bucket or that was kind/nice or respectful, etc). We try not to praise the behavior, as that is coercive, but rather to state it factually and keep going. Yes, we celebrate true joys, but most behavior that is expected, we state it within the terminology above and move on.
All of that being said, I do not go out of my way to point out examples of bucket filling or dipping in a contrived way. Usually, it comes up in conversation or because we are reading a specific book. Sometimes TB brings it up on his own, or he will ask questions about behavior that lead us to these discussions.”
I also asked Ashley, who is a teacher of the deaf at the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech, to help me understand more about how bucket filling is used in her classroom. This is what she wrote,
“So I learned about the concept of filling buckets last year in my graduate program…the school psychologist came into our class and showed us the literature, curriculum and studies that have turned some heads as of late! It’s based on a children’s book by Carol McCloud called, “Have you Filled a Bucket Today” and the idea behind it is simple – we all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this, they are filling other people’s buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time. It’s a simple metaphoric concept that reinforces the idea of people helping people and clearly demonstrates that our actions ultimately effect others…so the more positive, the better. Bucket dippers are people who do or say things to cause other people to feel bad..bucket dippers empty their own buckets when they say or do mean things.
In the classroom, we try to use the language associated with the concepts…for example, if a student helps another student with homework/social situation/etc. we like to reinforce the positive behavior first, and then explain how that was a bucket filler! (“Wow, you just helped your friend pick up toys…that was really helpful! You just filled his bucket and your own bucket by being a good friend!” The more positive attention and reinforcement drawn to kind selfless acts, will help shape our future generations for years to come.
Another thing we’ve done in the classroom is actually having “buckets” to fill as a concrete example for when you’re 1st introducing the concept….these buckets could be in the form of construction paper creations, actual plastic buckets from IKEA..super cute! or anything that the kids will take ownership of. I like the construction paper idea because it allows for personalization and creativity w/ various art materials…they can decorate them to their liking and then have a designated spot in the classroom so that children can write (practice penmanship too!) special bucket fillers to each other and place them anonymously into the respective bucket. This takes modeling and demonstration from the teacher prior to letting them do this independently to alleviate problems before they start! (writing appropriately, not looking in other’s buckets, not writing to the same person constantly etc.)
It’s great because you can promote this phenomenon by simply asking your students (or anyone!) , “Have you filled a bucket today?!” and the responses are usually outstanding and encouraging. Filling buckets is free, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving!”
I love how Maria explained how Bucket Filling is used in her home and Ashley helped me understand how it can be used in the classroom as well. I absolutely love this idea and can’t wait to get Jayden the book and start our own bucket filling project at home. If you have any questions for Maria or Ashley I am sure they’d be glad to help you!