ROCHELLE — Young students might be asked an important question, and the idea behind it is quite simple — spreading kindness.
Rochelle area early education students will be hearing the question, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” and will also be given a book by the same name that teaches empathy and being kind to one another.
The book and classroom materials are being made possible by a grant from the Ogle County Community Mental Health (708) Board.
Ruth Carter, Executive Director of HOPE of Ogle County applied for the grant and presented students at Central School with their own copy of the book Wednesday.
Carter explained how she discovered the book and its message, inspiring her to apply for the grant.
“I first heard of this book through another domestic violence director who had been a teacher prior to her work in domestic abuse. She shared the value and messages the book provides to children and I was immediately inspired to spread this book’s messages,” Carter said. “This is the first children’s book for this age group that I have read that teaches empathy and kindness in a way that shows children how it feels good to help others feel good…to fill someone’s bucket…and how it may feel to someone else when you ‘take away from their bucket’.”
Along with books, teachers and educators will be given a binder of information with links to free online classroom ideas, activities, and messages. Carter said there are also outcome measures that will gauge the effectiveness of the books and activities.
So far Carter has dropped of three batches of books to area schools. All students in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade at Rochelle Child Care Center, Head Start, St. Paul Lutheran School, and the Rochelle Elementary Schools will be receiving the books.
Central School principal Justin Adolph said it is a great time of year to introduce the book. The school will also be having fourth grade students speak about kindness during the daily announcements. He also expressed appreciation the books are also being offered in Spanish.
“We’re very grateful for Ruth and to HOPE for going through the process of the grants and getting the resources for us,” Adolph said. “We get more impact the earlier we start. Students know when they are kind to someone else that makes them feel good to, so this becomes a win-win early on.”
Carter also said the book not only teaches empathy effectively, it also shows them how it feels to treat others with kindness and how it might feel when they take from a person’s bucket by saying or doing something that is not nice.
“Teaching it while they are young…it resonates that filling someone’s bucket can carry on and that teachers can use that language more in the classroom, such as ‘That’s a great way to fill someone’s bucket’,” Carter said. “It’s natural for children, typically at young ages to feel good about helping someone. It’s the time to introduce it and a time to be able to talk about it more so by example and recognize the kids are doing things for each other. It carries on and goes through those early years.”