The Bucket Method (Or how to paint without a sink in your room.)

Bucket method for water This is so simple it feels silly to write up. However, I know from experience the challenge of doing projects that involve water when you have no sink. It’s amazing how frequently you need access to water as a teacher; science experiments, art lessons, clean up, simple hand washing… water is important!

Unfortunately, many of our older school buildings only have sinks in early childhood rooms (where they are required.) What to do?

Implement the bucket method.

Here’s how it works in 7 simple steps:

1- Collect a variety of clean water vessels. Jugs, pitchers, liter bottles, etc. all work well. I often purchase them already filled with water because I’m too lazy to properly clean a milk jug, but if you like to clean- go for it! Just be sure you do it well- milk residue in an old jug will result in some nasty water!

2- Get 1 or 2 large buckets. They need to be reasonably clean but not spotless. (Though for this purpose they shouldn’t have any toxic residue from heavy-duty cleaners, pesticides, or paints. Nothing like that around our kiddies, right?)

3- Make sure that several of your vessels are filled before you begin a lesson (such as watercolor painting) that requires water. While water can “sit” for a while, I usually try to fill my vessels the “day of” so it’s fresh.

4- When it’s time for your lesson, use one of your water vessels (such as a jug) to pour clean water into your containers. *If you want the students to do this independently, make sure you have some smaller size water containers (like small pitchers) that you can set out for them to use. Little kids trying to pour water from a 3-liter bottle is not a good idea!

One of my favorite water sources for young children is a sports-style water bottle with the pop-up spout. They find those easy to manage because they can simply pick up and squeeze! (Buy the kind with a top that screws on/off so you can refill it.)

Bringing water into the classroom

5- When the water gets dirty and needs to be changed, simply dump the dirty water into a bucket and pour fresh water from one of your water vessles. Simple!

Tip: I like to keep an old beach towel in my room to lay out under the bucket. It picks up any splashes quite nicely. Take it home every now and then for a wash.

Dumping dirty water in the bucket

6- When the lesson is over (or at the end of the day), take the bucket of dirty water and dump it. It’s pretty easy to pour it into a toilet and flush! (Just don’t “overwhelm” the toilet! You might have to pour and flush a few times.) Tip: I like to have two buckets in case the 1st starts getting full. It’s no fun struggling down the hall with a bucket full of dirty water splashing out!

7- Tell yourself that this extra bit of effort is worth it so that your students can have the best learning experiences possible! You are a Wonder Teacher! No sink? No problem!

PS- If you do a lesson that also results in messy containers such as paint pans, include an additional bucket or large bin to collect your dirty dishes. You can pour some water over them (and even squirt in a bit of soap) and let them “soak” until you have time to rinse them in a sink.

Other posts in this series:

Personal Narratives Using A “Pictures First” structure: Part 1

Personal Narratives Using a “Pictures First” structure: Part 2

6 Tips for Managing Watercolor Painting In the Classroom

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