Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Buckets of Kindness
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Learners role-play responses to bullying behavior and start to brainstorm ways to promote kind behaviors at school and decrease bullying behaviors.


One 40-Minute or Two 20-Minute Sessions


The learners will:

  • describe the different ways people respond to bullying behaviors.
  • define bullying, bully, victim, and bystander.
  • compare bullying behavior to other hurtful situations.
  • propose creative ways to stop bullying and unkind behaviors.


  • bullying: repeated teasing, hurting, or scaring of someone who seems different
  • bully: a person who likes to tease, hurt, or scare people. A bully often picks on someone who seems different from themselves.
  • bystander: a person who is present at the action but isn't involved or isn't one of the main participants
  • philanthropy: giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good
  • responsibility: the task one is trusted to perform;
  • victim: a person cheated, fooled, or harmed by another


  • a bucket or similar container
  • paper hearts or any objects that can be added to the bucket to represent kind acts

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Read aloud the book Have you Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide for Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. This book illustrates the concept that we all carry around an invisible bucket that contains the good things that people say and do. When something negative happens, we dip from our buckets. The story encourages young people to fill one anothers' buckets with kindness. Talk about actions that make us and others feel good about ourselves. Ask how having full buckets makes the whole school a better place.

Use a prop of a bucket and cut-out paper hearts on hand to illustrate the concepts from the book.

  • Tell the students that bullying behavior takes good things out of our buckets and affects the whole school.
  • Say, "A person who bullies never acts alone." Tell the class that there are always at least three people there: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. The bystander is the person who watches the behavior. Discuss that a bystander has a choice to stand up for the victim. Make sure the students understand that doing nothing or encouraging the bullying behavior may create bad feelings. The bystander can do something kind to fill back up the victim's bucket.
  • The bystander has some choices at the time of the bullying behavior (using brave talk):
  1. to ignore the problem (takes kindness out of the bucket) 
  2. to help the victim (puts kindness into the bucket)
  3. to tell an adult (puts kindness into the bucket)
  4. or to encourage the bully (takes kindness out of the bucket)
  • Ask which of these options shows responsibility. Act out some of these choices using the following scenario: Draw two large characters on the board--one is the bully and one is the victim. Tell the students that the bully just said to the victim, "Your hair looks funny." Ask for five volunteers to stand up with you near the board and pretend to be bystanders. You will whisper to each volunteer what you want them to say to the bully or victim (for older students, you can write these on paper for them to read). They say these things in turn:
  1. Bystander One: Say, "Cut it out; that's not funny." (help the victim)
  2. Bystander Two: Say, "I'm telling a teacher what you are doing." (tell an adult)
  3. Bystander Three: Say, "Yeah, I think his hair looks funny, too." (continue the bullying)
  4. Bystander Four: Say, "Whatever." (ignore the problem)
  5. Bystander Five: Say to the victim, "I really like your hair. Let's go play tetherball." (support the victim)
  • Talk about which of these responses in the role-play seemed like something the students might feel comfortable saying and why they think it might work.
  • Say, "Did you know that if one person watching a bullying situation says 'Stop it!' half the time the bullying will stop? This can be hard to do, but it's important to try. When you stand by and do nothing, that's saying that bullying is okay with you." Tell students that bystanders can make a big difference in helping to stop bullying behavior.
  • Say, "The victim has some choices too." Tell the class that victims of bullying can walk away when the bully gets near, ignore a bully's mean words, say something funny about the bully's mean words, or yell STOP!
  • The bystander can encourage the victim to tell an adult. The bystander can ask other kids to help stop the bullying and tell as many people as possible. (If tattling comes up: This is not tattling because we all have a responsibility to keep the school safe.)
  • Ask for volunteers to role-play a creative response to a bully comment. Say, "What would you say if a bully said to you 'you have big ears'?" Have kids raise their hands and suggest humorous positive comments intended to distract the bully (Yes, I can hear you really well.). It works well to have an object stand in as the bully and have the victims role-play by standing next to the inanimate bully. This way they can demonstrate ignoring, walking away, and other responses.
  • Talk about which responses they think will work for a victim to use to stop a bully.
  • Tell the students that bullying is bad for everyone. No one feels safe when bullying is allowed. Even the bully doesn't feel good about his or her behavior. Tell the students that maybe the bully is bullied at home or needs help to stop the bad behavior.
  • Ask the students to think of ways they can teach everyone in the school about bullying and filling each other's buckets. Start a brainstorming list and ask students to get more ideas from their families tonight.

Youth Voice:

Students think of creative ways to respond to unkind behavior. They also brainstorm creative ways to promote kindness and stop bullying behavior at school.

School/Home Connection:

Students have a discussion at home about ways to get kids in the whole school to do kind things for one another. They can also discuss ways to tell others to stop bullying behavior at school.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Literature: Read Chrysanthemum by Keven Henkes. Talk about how Chrysanthemum's feelings about her name change throughout the book. Discuss what helped Chrysanthemum feel stronger. Discuss how friends can help friends feel stronger in the face of bullying.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Henkes, Kevin. Chrysanthemum. Mulberry Books, 1996. ISBN-13: 978-0688147327

McCloud, Carol. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide for Daily Happiness for Kids.  Ferne Press, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0978507510


Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Friends Helping Friends to Prevent Bullying Summary


Words Can Hurt
Buckets of Kindness
Spreading the Kind Word

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