Monday, September 10, 2012

Are You a Bucket Filler?

I have been looking at bucket filling charts, systems, and lessons for the last couple of years. In some cases the ideas overwhelmed me because it seemed like it might be a lot to manage with kindergartners so I had decided against implementing it in my classroom.

Over the weekend I reflected on the past week and decided I needed something else to help with talking while I was talking and students putting their hands on each other all the time. I had coffee with a good friend of mine and she told me that "bucket filling" had changed her classroom. With some advice from her this is how I set it up and started using it in my classroom. After only one day I am very happy with the results.

I bought a shoe rack, clear plastic cups, and pom pom balls. I went with clear cups so my students could watch their progress as they filled their buckets. I also wanted to be able to do a quick check on how everyone was doing without having to walk over and look in everyone's bucket. I used command hooks to hang the show rack. I chose the ones that can hold about 3 lbs.

I introduced the buckets with the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? We discussed what it meant to fill a bucket and dip from a bucket. I related our class rules of following directions and being a good listener to filling my bucket. I talked about how it made me feel good as their teacher when they listened and followed directions, and wanted to learn what I was teaching them.

I explained that we would take a few minutes each day for people to share how someone filled their bucket that day and that the "bucket filling" child would get to add a pom-pom to his or her bucket. I also explained that I would call on people to add pom-poms to their buckets throughout the day when I say them filling someone's bucket or when they filled my own bucket.

I also explained that there would be times when they would be working at their tables and I would pass out a pom-pom to everyone and the students who followed directions would get to keep their pom-pom and add it to their bucket while the students who did not follow directions would lose their pom-pom and not be able to add it to their bucket. I like the idea of them never actually earning the pom-pom for a bad choice rather than taking away a pom-pom they earned from making a good choice. 

In most cases it is the child's responsibility to add the pom-pom to their bucket. Other times if I was closer to the buckets or if I wanted to give the entire class a pom-pom quickly then I added the pom-poms myself.

The day went so much better for me using this system. This was great for those students who have trouble making good choices all day long. They were still able to get rewarded for the good choices they made. 

When they fill their buckets they will get a coupon for something fun like working in their socks or bringing a stuffed animal to work with during the day. I plan to very the reward periodically so they will not loose interest. It will always be something like a coupon or certificate as opposed to a treasure box toy.   


Learning with Mrs. Brinn said...

I love using the bucket filling concept in my classroom! Your clear bucket filling system looks fabulous! My students are rewarded for every 10 they collect. Right now many of mine are reaching their 2nd set of 10. They can choose a celebration: banner, bubbles, or celebration dance. They figure out how many more they need to make 10. I may have to try it this way- as the pom poms are more tangible than stickers!
Learning With Mrs. Brinn

Katie Laidley said...

I love this idea! What do you do with misbehaviors- such as not keeping their hands to themselves?
Also, if you make cute coupons will you share?
Thank you!!!

Mrs. Larremore said...


I am trying not to have them take any out. I want to reinforce that they did something good and that can't be taken away. I address ongoing negative behaviors using my traffic light system. The super cute coupons I have came from Laura Martin on TPT

Kindergarten said...

I love this idea! I have been reading the book Have you Filled a Bucket Today? with my kindergarten classes for the last few years, but I have really struggled with how to continue using that idea as a management tool. I feel like giving everyone a pom-pom and then taking it away for not using manners during a whole group experience will really help. And I like that they don’t actually lose any pom-poms from their bucket once they earn it.

I noticed in the other comments on this post that you use a traffic light system for ongoing behavior issues. Does everyone in your class have a traffic light? Or do only those who have the ongoing issues get a light? Thanks so much for your insights! I enjoy reading about your wonderful ideas!

Mrs. Larremore said...

Every one of my students uses the pom Pom system and the traffic light system. The traffic light system is more of a negative consequences system while the pom pom system is all positive. I use the traffic light system to communicate daily with parents too.

Anonymous said...

I'm adding this to my classroom management system for next school year. I also use the traffic light. I want to also add the BLURT chart, any ideas how to tie that in?

Anonymous said...

I love this! I am curious, as well, about ideas about adding the Blurt Chart and how that would work with the bucket filling/traffic light. Or is that too many systems?? ;)

April Larremore said...

I use the pompom system to recognize and reward great individual behavior. I use this gumball system from Deanna Jump to recognize and reward great whole class behavior. The traffic light is the consequences side of my class discipline system. I only use the blurt chart when blurting out becomes a problem and I usually only have to use it for a short period before the problem is fixed. I hope this helps.

April Larremore said...

I place the blurt chart up by my carpet area and use it during real alouds and whole group teaching. I don't have to use it all year. I just use it when blurting out becomes a problem. I usually only have to use it a few weeks and the problem is solved.

Summer said...

Where can I find the traffic light system. It sounds really awesome! I am a student teacher this semester and I am hoping to have my own classroom in January.

April Larremore said...

Summer- I reread the post and I'm not sure what system you are asking about. You can email me at with more specifics and I will be happy to get right back to you about it.

Love Kpop said...

I'm puzzled with lots of exercises. I was afraid I could not do the right time despite my hard work. I need a support person.

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