Our Bucket-Filling Journey

The Bucket Filler movement has gained momentum of monumental proportions with school children in recent years, thanks to Carol McCloud, who resurrected the concept of emotional deposits and withdrawals in her book Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, and made it more concrete for kids. The author, a former early childhood educator herself, has created a wave of love by putting her award-winning book in the hands and hearts of more than a hundred thousand young (and old!) Bucket Fillers everywhere.

Here's Westwood's Bucket story:  I found my copy years ago as I was perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble looking for a new resource for my small-group counseling classes. Sadie, the reading dog, was coming that next day, and I wanted a new book to share. Bucket Filling? Sure, I'm game! After reading the book aloud, I gave students an index card with the word Filler written on one side and Dipper written on the other to check for understanding. I'd give an example like - Your brother shares his toys. - and students would show me the Filler side. When I said - Your friend says "I don't want to be your friend anymore." - they showed me the Dipper side. They caught on so quickly that, before I knew it, they were volunteering to make up the examples. That's when I knew I had a simply powerful tool, perfect for kids. 

Since that initial success, BucketFillers 101 has featured us a few times in their FILL-osophy newsletter. That August, we kicked off our back-to-school celebration by sharing it with our faculty and staff. Buckets started showing up in classrooms all over our school and Bucket bulletin boards brought the concept to life visually. Kids were talking about it at school and taking it home! Teachers read it to parents at Open House. A mom stopped by to ask what her son meant when he said "I'm sitting by someone who dips on the bus" so we took the book to the bus drivers and train them on the concept. And when students came to guidance, every topic we covered connected back to filling and dipping. I was reading the book at every workshop I conducted, including up in New Jersey to a group of 500-plus elementary educators during my keynote there. I was so pleased with how well it was received and how quickly the concept was rippling out. One of the teachers up there quickly incorporated into her third-grade classroom by reading it aloud to her students' parents at Orientation and then sending it home as a family connection reader. And so our Bucket Filling crusade began. 
Now in our fourth year as Bucket Fillers, we kicked off this school year by giving the chapter book Growing Up With A Bucket Full of Happiness to each of our staff members. Our principal led a mini-book study to introduce the law of the lid and discuss the book's potential to positively influence their classroom climate. 

Are you using Bucket Filling in your school, classroom, or home? If so, what are some of your promising practices? Bucket filling sparks happiness in the hearts of everyone involved. As we celebrate the book's five-year mark, I just have to ask: How will you fill a bucket today?


  1. Barbara-I'm taking my school on a Bucket Filling Campaign this year! I'm taking the month of September to read and discuss with each of my k-7 classes. Starting in October I am asking all staff to be on the look out for students who demonstrate bucket filling behavior. These students will be recognized with a paper bucket that has their name on it on our Bucket Filler wall. I also plan on announcing Bucket fillers weekly over the AM announcements.

    Additionally, I have created a staff bucket, but I'm meeting that with some resistance. I hope as the year goes staff will realize how important it is to fill each others buckets too.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book and the concept behind it. I wish I had the opportunity to see you speak when you were in NJ!

    Thanks for being an inspiration to me :)

  2. Your kind comments filled my bucket - thanks! Maybe one day I'll come back to NJ and we can meet. Good luck with your crusade; get the cheerleaders for character on board and they'll help bring the resistance along!!!



I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!