Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Title: Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

Author: Carol McCloud

Illustrator: David Messing

Ages: 4 and up

Publisher: Ferne Press

Buy it here! 

The concept is simple: Everyone has an invisible bucket that is full when they are happy and empty when they are sad. Ideally, everyone would like to have a full bucket. The way to get a full bucket is to fill other people's buckets, and in return, they will fill yours. The metaphor is well illustrated and explained simply enough for children as young as 4.  The story continues to explain that there are also "bucket dippers", people who want to empty your bucket. "Dippers," such as bullies, sometimes think that they can fill their bucket by taking from other people, but that will only result in both buckets being empty. When you fill someone else's bucket, your bucket gets full too and that is why we should be kind to one another.
Element 2: Respect for Others
This book embodies the concept of "Respect for others," by teaching a practical and simple way for children to understand empathy and kindness. Showing respect and kindness daily is the intended take-away concept of this book. The lesson about "dippers" teaches children that being a bully will not make you happy, and only expresses that you are upset and are trying to take happiness from someone else for no reason. The illustrations in this book help show children that you need to be a bucket filler to feel full yourself.
Classroom Activity:
In a preschool or kindergarten classroom, I would hand out a bucket to each of the children. Each bucket would have a handful of scarves. The center time or free play time would continue as usual, but the children need to keep their bucket with them. The teachers would have a handful of scarves as well. As the teachers watch the students interact with each other, they will let the children know whether they are being "fillers" or not and distribute the scarves accordingly. At the end of the play time, the class will come together again to discuss how easy or hard it was to fill buckets and to keep their buckets full.

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