Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

Encouraging Kindness with Bucket Filling Gem Jars

I’ve always encouraged my kids to “be kind” and “use kind words” but when there was an excess of crabbiness and bickering in our household, I invested in a book called ‘Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud‘. It literally changed our language around the concept of kindness to the point where “You are dipping in my bucket!” and “Did I fill your bucket?” have become common phrases in our house.

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Using a simple metaphor and explaining kindness in a way that children can grasp immediately, this book encourages positive behavior and explains how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. It’s the perfect introduction to self-awareness and feelings, and beautifully helps kids visualize how their actions and words impact others.

To immerse ourselves a bit deeper in the concept of this book, I created a worksheet for the kids to help think through and specifically list out what “fills their bucket” and “dips in their bucket”. It was fun discussing the results as a family and interesting discovering what differences they had based on their individual personalities and/or love language(s).

Have You Filled a Bucket Today - Bucket Filling Worksheet - Free Printable - projectsinparenting.com

Click Image to Download Free Printable

In an effort to encourage more “bucket filling” behavior into our daily life, as well as help visualize and reinforce the book’s concept of how “filling other people’s buckets also helps to fill our own”, I created these Gem Jars.

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Supplies for DIY Gem Jars:

General rules for our Gem Jars:

  1. Mom or Dad rewards an individual for “bucket filling” behavior / acts of kindness with a big or small gem – at their discretion, based on the specific act.
  2. There is no removal of gems for bucket dipping behavior. This is meant to detour any tattling on negative behavior, as our goal is to focus on and encourage positive behavior.
  3. It is perfectly acceptable to perform a bucket filling act specifically to ask for a gem. However, Mom or Dad may deny the gem for any reason (you’d be surprised at some of the stuff they come up with, lol).
  4. Children are encouraged to inform parents of their sibling’s kind acts so the bucket filler can receive a gem.
  5. When a child fills their Gem Jar, they receive a reward. Reward options are provided by Mom or Dad. Example rewards include: A specific toy/book/gift we know they want, 1:1 time with Mom/Dad like going to a movie, dinner at their favorite restaurant, out for ice cream, etc.

We have been using our Gem Jars for almost a year now and I’m happy to report that there has definitely been an increase in kindness and helping behavior around these parts. While I can honestly say I saw an immediate impact on my children’s behavior after reading this book and using our gem jars, I’m not going to pretend it’s some kind of miracle fix. I am just happy that it helped them become more self-aware and realize how their behavior impacts the people around them. Sure, sometimes they go out of their way to do kind things only because they want a gem – but hey, that’s the point! To be honest, I am especially proud of those moments when I see them clearly making a conscious effort to do something kind, when otherwise they may not have done so. When they are actively trying their best to be kind, everyone is happier. By putting happiness into terms the kids can understand and use, I think it really has helped them understand the effects of their actions and words on their own well being, as well as the well being of others. I couldn’t be more proud of my little bucket fillers!

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” -Dalai Lama

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Exploring Colors for Preschoolers

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Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet has been a long-time favorite book in our house. A truly brilliant and engaging way to introduce the idea of mixing colors. One of the best parts = The kids can mix colors, over and over again, without the actual mess of paint! Another great book to compliment this read is The Wonders of the Color Wheel, by Charles Ghigna. Similar to Mix It Up!, this book explains color combinations, but also touches upon the categorization of primary and secondary colors.

While paint seems to be the most logical activity for hands-on learning of mixing colors, I’ve found that (specifically when working with toddlers) the secondary colors never come out quite right. For example, when attempting to mix the bright green of a shamrock, we end up with more of a brownish-green that looks like rotting seaweed 😦

To make things a little easier (and more accurate), I’ve come up with a few other mediums that are great for exploring colors with kids…

1. Mixing Colored Water

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I filled plastic cups with water and used food coloring to dye the cups in correspondence to this Color Math Printable. The boys then poured the 1st two cups in each row (primary colors), into the last empty cup, to create the secondary colors (green, purple & orange).

2. Play-Doh Color Wheel

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Using the primary colors of Play-Doh (blue, red & yellow), the boys mashed and rolled small pieces together to create each secondary color (green, purple & orange), and place them on their Color Wheel Printable.

3. Overlaying Transparency Colors

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Using the primary colors of Magnatiles, the boys held the tiles up to a window, overlapping them to discover each of the secondary colors. If you don’t have Magnatiles, any form of color transparencies can work.

Thanks for visiting my blog! For more fun kids’ activities and free printables, follow me on Pinterest and Facebook.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can color the world are the ones who do”

Constellation Sticker Craft

Constellation Sticker Craft - projectsinparenting

All things outer space has been a huge interest of the boys lately. They enjoy star gazing, identifying planets in the sky, and were thrilled to see the Super Blood Moon this past summer.

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Although it would be amazing if the moon were really that huge, it’s enlarged for effect  🙂

Jacob’s favorite thing to wear are his constellation pajama pants (as seen above) and he’s always asking us to point out the Big Dipper, especially after reading Touch the Brightest Star – one of his favorite interactive books, where you trace the Big and Little Dipper with your finger as part of the story. (Great book for any toddler’s bed time collection!)

I wanted a fun way to teach them the basic constellations, and ones that are easy to spot in the sky, so I came up with the following craft worksheets…

Big Dipper WorksheetLittle Dipper WorksheetCassiopeia WorksheetCygnus Worksheet

LeoPegasusOrion WorksheetCepheusGemini

Click on individual worksheet above for FREE printable, or HERE for pdf with ALL Worksheets.

First I had the boys place star stickers on the grey dots, then using the picture as reference, draw lines to create each constellation.

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After learning the constellations, the boys got creative with their worksheets – connecting the dots without stickers, outlining the constellation in all star stickers, putting other stars in the sky, tracing the letters to spell the constellations, etc. I enjoy watching them explore whatever materials I give them. It’s fun when they think outside the box and come up with new ways to do things… A great hands-on way to learn while using imagination and creativity!

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“Don’t wait for the stars to align. Reach up, rearrange them the way you want them to be. Create your own constellation.” – Pharrell Williams

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Room on the Broom Inspired Scavenger Hunt

Room on the Broom Inspired Scavenger Hunt

A family friend bought us a copy of Room on the Broom last year and the boys could not get enough. They wanted to read it over and over again – for MONTHS!! And they still love to read it. The book is extremely clever with captivating illustrations and super catchy rhymes. Since they loved the book so much, I also purchased the DVD (which is AMAZING as well – and great for bringing imagination to life). If you don’t own this book, I highly recommend adding it to your personal library.

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As we read the story or watch the DVD, the boys love pretending to throw items into the cauldron (lily, cone, stick, bone). Sometimes they come up with their own ingredients (acorns, leaves, etc.). I was looking at our Halloween candy bowl (which happens to be a witches cauldron) and came up with the idea for an activity to engage them in the story even more…

I created scavenger hunt cards with cauldron ingredients, printed them on card stock, and cut them out.

Download FREE Printable HERE.

Note: I chose the strength of card stock and reinforcement of laminating them with contact paper because Avery crumpled up the 1st set I printed on regular paper (which the boys were not very happy about) . I’m sure older children would handle regular paper or card stock just fine.

I then placed the scavenger hunt cards face down, onto a table, next to the witches cauldron. The boys took turns selecting a card, then running off to gather their ingredients (which were scattered on the ground or hidden in a separate room)… Great for burning off the incessant toddler energy!

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They tossed their ingredients into the cauldron and stirred them well…

Room on the Broom inspired scavenger hunt - Stir Cauldron

Room on the Broom inspired scavenger hunt - Stir Cauldron

For a fun twist on the game, I gave them each a glow stick wand (found at the dollar store)…

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…and had them find their items in the dark using the wand.

Room on the Broom inspired scavenger hunt - in the dark

Room on the Broom inspired scavenger hunt - in the dark

IGGITY, ZIGGITY, ZAGGITY, ZOOM!!!… Out rose 3 happy toddlers, entertained for hours!

Room on the Broom inspired scavenger hunt - Iggity Ziggity Zaggity Zoom

Follow me on Pinterest, for more fun ideas!