Social and Emotional Learning: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Using children’s literature to build social, emotional, and literacy skills is always a focus when I teach.  I love when I can use one book for so many engaging lessons and build my classroom community. Whether you have a classroom of 25 students or a family of a few kiddos, this book (and others at the end of this post) are wonderful learning opportunities and seeds to further discussion with your learners.

Social & Emotional Learning: Children’s Literature

I’m loving this book, Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud.

social emotional learning, classroom community, kindness

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This is a great book for parents and teachers looking to provide examples and ideas for children about treating others with kindness, showing appreciation, and being respectful. Although the book focuses on providing positive examples, there are also examples of what happens when a person is not being nice to a friend or family member.  The conversations generated by reading this book provides opportunities for comparing and contrasting how our actions impact others.

Social & Emotional Learning: Character Traits

This book can also be a spring board to discuss the term “character traits” during a literacy lesson. There are a variety of character traits such as giving, kindness, helping others, and feeling good about doing good for others are a few.  Besides a literacy, social, and emotional lesson focus, you could easily use this to build community within a classroom or family setting. This book is great to establish the “character traits” of classroom family members or even family members. Whether this book is used in a large classroom or the smaller family unit, great conversations will certainly unfold.

Social & Emotional Learning: Picture Books

Teaching students social and emotional skills can be challenging. There are many perspectives and experiences outside of the classroom that impact topical discussion.

However, over the years, I have found common ground to teach using children’s literature. These books build social, emotional, and literacy skills simultaneously. This is always a great compromise to the character sharing story line where the message is taught and the demands for learning.

Whether you have a classroom of 25 students or a family of a few kiddos, this resource holds wonderful learning opportunities and seeds to further discussion with your learners. Get this FREE SEL Resource and start using picture books to provide valuable discussion about social emotional skills.

social and emotional learning

Here are some additional books that you may like to use for your classroom and family!  I’ve used each of these books for a variety of lessons; however, my main focus was building classroom community first.  Throughout the year, I can read these books again with a learning lesson focus – usually literacy – either a reading skill/strategy or writing author’s craft.  My kiddos still loved listening to these books each time with a different focus lens.

Social & Emotional Learning: Spreading Kindness

Another springboard is to engage children in an art lesson by making a bucket for oneself and/or others, then looking for the positives to build up others’ buckets. The children can easily relate to and feel happy about bringing others happiness.  Notes can be written or pictures drawn (littles) on small pieces of paper and deposited into the buckets.  At the end of the day, the notes can be shared with the class or family to celebrate each other.

Social & Emotional Learning: Related Resources

Check out the Bucket Filler website!  There are a variety of resources available to assist the lessons that you plan to teach. Here are some great posts to check out.

How to Teach with Children’s Literature

Kindness Counts

How to Teach Picture Writing

Social & Emotional Learning: Final Thoughts

Whether you are building classroom community, family dynamics, or teaching literacy, social or emotional lessons, this is a great book that kiddos of all ages ~ yes, even middle and high school students enjoy a great picture book.  

I’ve shared a variety of opportunities to use this book in the classroom and at home.  Do you see why I’m loving this book!!! I hope you are able to walk away with some ideas to use picture books to teach social emotional and literacy skills. Using children’s literature is a perfect way to engage all learners, regardless of age to teach a variety of skills.  

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Annette Durbin

Annette has been an educator for 29 years working in the PK-6 elementary classroom, English learner instructional specialist, district leadership, university professor, as well as a mentor for teachers nationwide. A National Board Certificated Teacher, Annette focuses her research on accelerating learning and advancing achievement, personalizing instruction, technology, and leadership in the education field.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Meagan

    I love these books. As a teacher, I used them every year at the beginning of the year when establishing our classroom culture! It was great because it gave us language to use to remind students: “Do you think that filled his bucket?”

    1. Annette Durbin

      These are perfect to build classroom community!!! My school is engaging in “The Kindness Challenge” this week, and we brought this book back out to continue building upon our learning (and I tied a writing lesson in, too).

  2. Annette Durbin

    Hello! I’m glad you found this post beneficial to share with others at the Kid Culture Blog. This topic is of value to all parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

  3. Stephanie

    I love this idea of filling someone’s bucket. We used this as a school one year when I taught. And a blast from the past with seeing some of the other books listed.

    1. Annette Durbin

      Yes, just a little note of kindness can really make someone’s day!!


    Sounds like a great book that I should have here for my grandson. Thanks for the insight. I will check it out.

  5. Cindy

    We have a huge library at home as well. I love books that focus on social-emotional intelligence. Thank you for the book suggestion!

  6. Tonya | the Writer Mom

    This sounds like a great book to add to our home library! I love your ideas for adding to the lesson… Our girls just got a ton of new books for Christmas, but I’m definitely going to bookmark this for later!

    1. Annette Durbin

      I’m glad your girls have a home library!! This would be a great one to add.
      Have a blessed New Year!!

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