Students at Ann MacArthur Primary School are learning how to be bucket fillers by giving each other compliments, being helpful, and generally spreading good feelings to others. The bucket is a metaphor for the place inside each of us where we keep our feelings. Telling someone they are nice, or offering to help them clean up, fills the bucket of the child receiving the compliment or help and fills the bucket of the child doing the kind deed because it makes him or her feel good.

The program was brought to AMP by the school’s Site-Based Team and based on the book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud, is easy for students in the primary grades to understand. They can use an actual bucket and write down the nice things they do as they watch the bucket fill up. This helps them understand the concept. The program promotes kindness and sends an anti-bullying message, as bullies are called “bucket dippers” – taking away the good feelings from someone’s internal bucket.

Ann MacArthur Primary School Assistant Principal Michele Salerno said reinforcing the concept of becoming a bucket filler is important. “One of the many benefits of becoming a bucket-filling school is that we are now able to use a common language with all of the children.”

Each kindergarten through second-grade class received a beach bucket that they fill with slips of paper naming the kind deeds they’ve done. In order to enhance the program, this year’s field day themes revolved around the bucket-filler program. Physical Education teacher Maribeth Miller, a member of the Site-Based Team who was instrumental in promoting the program to AMP, created relay races and other events that required buckets to complete each task. Buckets were used for balancing items, buckets had to be filled with items, and one event even required students to spell the word bucket.

Ms. Miller said field day always incorporates fun with the physical education skills learned throughout the year, such as throwing, catching, coordination, and teamwork. This year, however, she added a new dynamic. “By creating a bucket-filler theme, the students were reminded about being kind to each other, and they will take that back into the classroom, the playground and their homes,” she explained.

Ms. Salerno added, “The more the children hear about the rewards of filling someone’s bucket, the more likely they will be to do good deeds.”