Have you filled a bucket today?

Updated to reflect newly available publications.

Child at the beach filling a bucket
I learned something new at a family program at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI.

I learned how to be a “bucket filler.”

Even though this interactive presentation on bucket filling was right after the Easter egg hunt, this wasn’t instruction on how to garner the most chocolate eggs in your Easter bucket basket.

No, this event was about something far more important.


Here’s what I took away:

  • Work to keep my bucket full (by filling other people’s buckets)
  • Don’t be a “bucket dipper”
  • And keep my bucket lid close at hand.

So what’s all this talk of buckets?

It’s all based on the concept that everyone carries around an invisible bucket where we store our good thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

When your bucket is full, you feel great.

When your bucket is empty, you feel lousy.

When we are kind and do nice things for someone, we fill their bucket. In the process of doing “bucket-filling, the gratifying side-effect is that our own bucket gets replenished!

This is a great way to teach kids (even young ones) about the importance of being loving and considerate of other people. To keep your own bucket full you need to either receive scoops of love from someone or ladle love upon someone else.

Jesus told us to be a bucket filler: “Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.” (Luke 10:27). I’m all for full buckets!

But, don’t be a bucket dipper!

What is not good is “bucket dipping.” When someone acts mean, in the things they do or say (or even simply ignores us!) they dip into our bucket, hijacking some of our happiness.

For kids, this describes bullies, but it also can describe the daily goings-on in our households. How about: “My bucket is being dipped when you don’t pick up your toys as I’d asked.” Or, “I see that both of your buckets are being dipped when you and your sister are arguing.”

What’s with the bucket lid?

This event turned out to be so much more than just another way of looking at the Golden Rule. The presenter from Bucket Fillers, Inc. empowered us to deal with bucket dippers by putting a lid on our bucket! What a refreshing way to visualize protecting your feelings—for kids of all ages.

As I have thought about this bucket concept, it occurred to me that God wants to fill to overflowing, all of our buckets!

Open quote markFrom the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

God needs us to do the work of filling each other’s buckets. I have just one question…

A bucket full of blessings


Some Bucket-filling Resources:

The book Have You Filled a Bucket Today?This is a great book to introduce bucket filling to your kids; for all ages (even adults!)


The book: Fill a bucketThis one is great for ages birth to 5.


Book - Growing Up with a Bucket Full of HappinessA chapter book for ages 9 and up.


Book - Baby's Bucket BookBoard-book for ages birth to age 2.

Baby’s have buckets too!


To purchase the above books and other products visit Bucket Fillers, Inc.

Photo credits:
Beach photo offered by RJ Bejil, who licensed this photo under a Creative Commons License.

Graphic: “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” – used with permission from Bucket Fillers, Inc.
Book covers – Not affiliate links (I get nothing for pointing you to the organization Bucket Fillers, Inc. Just trying to point you towards resources.) but these covers do link to the publishers’ web site. This, in my mind, keeps this in the category of fair use for educational purposes.

The Garden of Gethsemane workshops

During the school year, each Rotation for our Cool Disciples (our 1st – 6th graders at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI) includes six workshops. Here’s the line up for our Rotation on the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • In the Art Workshop kids are creating charcoal drawings visualizing events on the night Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane. They are reading the story in Luke.
  • In the Cooking Workshop pretzels are being folded following the practice of a monk 1,400 years ago, who first shaped his dough to represent someone praying. People often prayed at that time, with their arms folded across their chests, each hand on the opposite shoulder. (Try saying your prayers in this manner!) As the pretzels bake, the story is being read from Matthew.
  • In the Drama Workshop the kids read the story in Mark and then enact it (complete with costumes and props). Here’s the 6th grade in action from last week:

  • In the Movement Workshop students hear the story from Luke. After discussion they climb into Body Sox – tubes made of a very stretchy Lycra material. While listening to music they are urged to use their bodies to create expressive movement to depict the retelling of the story. This is captured on video for watching pleasure at the end of the lesson.
  • In the Science Workshop kids are creating little gardens- terrariums. These gardens are not intended to be replicas of the Garden of Gethsemane as they include other symbols of the Easter story – an empty tomb, a rock rolled away, a cross and some flowers. As you care for the garden that your child brings home, talk about the elements of the story. Why is the tomb empty? How about that stone – was it moved away to let Jesus out, or so people could see Jesus had risen from the dead? What does the cross represent?
  • In the Video Workshop students are first reading the story in Matthew and then watching portions of the video The Visual Bible: Matthew. They are watching this live-action video portray Jesus and his disciples first at the Last Supper and then in the garden. This video uses the exact wording from the New International version of the book of Matthew.

What are your children’s reactions to these workshops? What have they learned?

Photo credits:
Photos thanks to Greg Stout.

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