Fill the Bucket is a collaborative team-building activity that requires participants to plan ahead to achieve a group goal. I first learned this activity from the great and wonderful Diane Walker. We consistently used Fill The Bucket as a planning and goal setting initiative.
Fill The Bucket
Number of Participants: 7-25
Time: 15-25 minutes
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: 3 Buckets, 30-40 throwables (yarn balls, Beanie Babies, etc.), and tape/rope/webbing to mark the boundary
Objective: To hit the team’s goal by scoring as many points as possible during each round.
Place the tape/rope/webbing in a straight line about 20’ – 25’ long. Place one bucket 5 feet from the line, another bucket 10 feet from the line, and the third bucket 15 feet from the line. The buckets need to be 5 feet apart, thus creating a staggered line of buckets. Lay all of the throwables along the line on the opposite side of the buckets.
- 5 points for throwables tossed into the closest bucket
- 10 points for throwables tossed into the middle bucket
- 15 points for throwables tossed into the furthest bucket
This game is comprised of four (4) one-minute rounds. Each round has different rules, but before each round the group declares a group goal score. Also, before each round suggest (or require, depending upon the group) a two-minute planning period.
Instruct the participants that their goal is to score as many points as possible by tossing the throwables into the buckets.
- The participants cannot cross the line.
- Once time is up, the participants cannot toss any more throwables
- The participants cannot retrieve any throwables from across the line.
- If the group throws all items before a minute, the round is over.
At the end of the round, encourage the group to help you add up the score. See if their score matches or exceeds their goal score.
Follow the rules for Round 1, but challenge the group to reevaluate their approach to the activity and see if they need to make any changes. Ask them to give you a new goal score for Round 2.
When the minute is over, ask them if they set an appropriate goal.
Follow the rules for Round 1, but this time give the team a new resource. Invite three participants to become “runners,” teammates who can cross the line and retrieve throwables that have not landed in the bucket.
Runners can only retrieve one throwable at a time, and must hand the throwable across the line, not toss it. Encourage the team to pre-plan and then ask for a new group goal score.
After the round, ask the group to evaluate their progress and determine the validity of their group goal score.
Follow the rules for Round 3 (including the runners), but this time give the group another resource, “Backboards.” Three participants will serve as backboards that will straddle the buckets, sitting on their knees with their back to the bucket.
Ask for a goal score, and complete the activity. After they are finished, process the activity with a creative and insightful debrief.
Questions for Discussion:
- What was one word to describe Round 1? What about Round 4?
- Did the group allocate adequate time for pre-planning the activity? What pre-planning steps did the group take?
- What ideas did the group find to be the most successful to complete the activity? Which participants developed the ideas?
- How did the new resources change your plan? What action steps did you take to implement the new resources?
- How did the group communication during the activity?
- Did any members of the group take charge? Who? How?
- It helps to record the group’s scores after each round on a white board or flip chart. This allows the team to see the progress over the rounds.
- Some groups need instruction on how to communicate during the planning period. Either provide that instruction or build up to that point throughout the day’s activities.
Have you used this activity? Do you have any fun variations for Fill The Bucket? Where did you learn Fill The Bucket?