Early childhood education is all about recognizing that children delight in learning, exploring the world around them, and having opportunities to reach their full potential.  

Terri Murphy has been a Grace Preschool icon for years. Church member, former parent, and teacher – she has worn many hats and understands the importance of providing children with the right mix of love, support, sensitivity, and stimulation. The students in her class love learning and are well on their way to becoming kind, thoughtful, and contributing members of Grace Preschool and beyond.

Several years ago, Mrs. Murphy welcomed an older sibling student reader, a long-honored tradition at Grace, to her class to read a book of his choice.  He chose to read How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids, by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer.

The book explains the concept of each of us having an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel bad. It goes through the importance and impact of our words and actions towards others. One of the greatest lessons is that when you fill someone else’s bucket, you fill your own bucket, too. Such a simple, yet important, lesson for preschoolers and grownups alike – you feel good when you help others feel good- the ripple effect!

Terri remembers loving the book and the message immediately. She knew she had to figure out a way to incorporate “bucket filling” into her classroom. Terri noted that, “Bucket filling is a simple concept that even the youngest learner can grasp. It encourages kindness, cooperation, empathy, and respect.”

Over the last few years, Terri Murphy and Tracy Brown began teaching and implementing this concept in Kindergarten on the first day of school. There is always time to recognize the power of kindness!

Terri begins the year by reading the book,  How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids. Then, she and her students brainstorm ideas together as to how we can be bucket fillers in our classroom. A large bucket is displayed with their ideas, and they refer to them all year long. They revisit the chart often and use the term “be a bucket filler” daily. Terri also shares the book, Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children, by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin to encourage discussions and role play.

“Bucket Filling Fridays is the best part of the week”, notes Terri. “During our morning meeting on Fridays, I give each child a bucket shaped name card of a classmate. They take time to think of how they could fill that friend’s bucket, and then we take turns using kind words to say to each other.” 

Terri and Tracy added a new component for implementing bucket filling in their classroom this year. Each child made their own bucket (plastic cup, pipe cleaner, stickers) The buckets are on an accessible shelf along with bucket filling forms. Children can get a form and write/draw messages to leave in the buckets for each other.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that early childhood education remains dedicated to helping children reach their full potential all the while becoming empathetic, compassionate, and kind human beings in our world?!

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