National Heritage Academies Teaching Students Ways to Spread Kindness One Bucket at a Time

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Sept. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — It may be a simple activity for young scholars but one that can have a lasting impact. That’s why third-grade teacher Stephony Leuallen designed a bucket-filling activity to instill kindness and empathy in her students.

“Before school starts, I draw a blank, non-colored bucket with stars and hearts. Our goal for the first month of school is to fill our classroom bucket,” Leuallen, who teaches at Mountain View Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said. “Every time I see a bucket-filling action in the classroom, I color in a star or heart. That really keeps my kids on top of it, wanting to fill each other’s buckets by filling our visual classroom bucket.”

Leuallen explained that you’re helping fill someone’s bucket when you have positive interactions with them, but you’re dipping into their bucket when you display negative words or actions.

“A lot of kids will help each other by picking up supplies, passing out papers, or just saying nice things,” shared Leuallen. “Words mean a lot. That’s one of the biggest things I want my kids to get out of it.”

This activity helps Leuallen’s class see firsthand how their words and actions impact those around them. “We can refer back to our bucket throughout the year. When I see behavior happening in the classroom, I say ‘Are you being a filler or a dipper?’ If they say they’re being a bucket dipper, we fix it right away.”

While this activity is ideal for elementary school students, the concept can also be applied to older scholars. Kristen Sanders, a curriculum specialist with National Heritage Academies, shared some options. In middle school, discussions could focus on Moral Focus virtues like respect, wisdom, and integrity, and how they apply in various situations. High school students could take ownership of kindness initiatives in their school or community, learning to empathize and take action on their own.

“As part of our ninth-grade curriculum, students create a 30-second public service announcement that targets something they see in their school or community,” Sanders explained. “It could be something as simple as picking up trash outside and being kind to our earth or an anti-bullying campaign. We don’t want it to be something that’s all teacher-parent-led. We know the impact really comes when they are motivated to do it themselves.”

Both educators say these lessons extend far beyond the classroom. Leuallen noted, “A lot of kids help their parents with chores at home or people at the grocery store. I have one student who loves to take people’s grocery carts back to the front of the store.” 

Sanders stressed the importance of modeling kindness as parents and making it a part of everyday life. “As a family, we should establish clear expectations for how we treat others, both within and outside our family. Acts like paying for the person’s coffee behind us at Starbucks or random acts of kindness should become second nature,” she shared.

Both educators agree these lessons are the building blocks of a culture of kindness that will not only benefit the school but have a positive impact on the community.

About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies (NHA) is a network of 101 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 68,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit

SOURCE National Heritage Academies

National Heritage Academies (PRNewsfoto/National Heritage Academies)

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