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How Full Is YOUR Bucket?

A Lesson On How To Keep Your Emotional Bucket FULL


What They Think…

Students love participating in the ‘bucket’ activity because they have a tangible way of tracking their personal success and achievement with character building, while also gaining a gentle reminder of where they could make alterations in their lives.  They can engage in a little friendly competition with themselves and others and have fun while growing on a personal level.

What You Know…

By participating in this activity, students are not only tracking their own behavior and actions (thus becoming less teacher directed), they are also inadvertently increasing their awareness.  The more awareness that occurs, the easier it becomes to focus and direct thoughts and actions for good.  Student awareness will increase through these activities.  Associations will begin to be made between words and actions and the image of a full or empty bucket.  Hopefully each time students interact in the future, they will think about their own and others’ buckets first.

TRY IT! Then tell me if you wish your teacher had taught it!

 Lesson Plan:

1.  Introduce this activity by reading the book:  How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids  By: Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer.

Go here to purchase the book:  http://www.amazon.com/

2.  Reinforce the lesson that all people have an invisible bucket that is both taken from and filled back up on a daily basis.  Have the students imagine what their invisible buckets might look like and how full or empty they believe them to be and why.

3.  Provide each student with their very own personal bucket (purchase small buckets from a dollar store, or, just use plastic cups).

4.  Fill the buckets with something meaningful to the students.  The possible items can be brainstormed together (i.e.: marbles, coins, little heart-shaped trinkets, candies etc.).

5.  Discuss the feelings associated with having a ‘full bucket.’

6.  Students are to use these buckets each day, not to empty based on what others take from them, rather, based on what they take from others through their words and actions.

7.  Students are to monitor their actions, behavior, intent, and words by removing a trinket from their bucket when they notice that they have ‘dipped into’ someone else’s.  For example: if they say something unkind to someone at recess, or forget to share, they may recognize this as a way they have taken from another person’s bucket.  They would take one item out of their bucket and leave it aside.  Alternately, if someone has appreciated the kind gestures of another, they may add a trinket to that person’s bucket for them.


 **Note: This process may take some coaching.  As the point is to increase students’ own personal awareness, they may require gentle reminders along the way.  It is not suggested to say outright that a student has taken from another’s bucket, and then tell them to remove an item from their bucket.  Instead, raise a question.  The idea is for the recognition and decision to come from the student.  If they decide not to take from their bucket, that’s o.k.**


8.  A little friendly competition may occur as students begin to pay attention to their classmates’ buckets; this may encourage further effort.

9.  At the end of each day, students can count up the number of items in their bucket and reflect on their day.  They can set a goal for the following day based on these results.



A)  Students can graph their results over a week or a month and analyze the results.

B)  Students can write reflections or goals each day and discuss the feelings associated with having a full or empty bucket.  They might extend their use of the bucket into the home and compare its fullness to school and why.

C)  An extra challenging extension is to have students remove from their bucket whenever they catch themselves having a negative thought.  When a negative thought arises, a student must remove an item from the bucket and also replace that thought with a more positive one.  Thoughts are SO powerful and the more aware we are of them, the more we can change them and live our best lives!

D)  If this activity is only going to be practiced for one day, it can be altered.  Try giving each student a heart cut-out instead of a bucket.  Each time they have felt that they have been taken from, (instead of when they take from others) they can rip a small part of the paper heart away.  This is a powerful visual for students to see the way their words and actions are affecting others.


If you like this lesson plan, please see the Warm Up section for more extensions.










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