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Muriel Green Nursery School

For all your education and day care needs for under 5's

Bucket Time

Why we do bucket time:

  • To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
  • To support the development of social skills
  • To increase attention during adult-led activities
  • To encourage children to communicate effectively with adults and peers
  • Encourage children to articulate their ideas and interests


How you do bucket time

The stages:

  • Stage 1 – Bucket/Bin

A bucket is filled with visually engaging objects and toys, aiming to gain the shared attention of the group. The adult leader shows each item to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects.


  • Stage 2 – The attention builder

Visually stimulating activities are shown to the group by the adult leader, aiming to sustain attention for a longer period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve delightful mess!


  • Stage 3 – Turn taking and re-engaging attention

The adult leader demonstrates a simple activity, often modelled with another adult in the group. Some children are then invited to have a turn but only if they are comfortable to do so. Not every child in the group will get a turn, which then teaches important emotional regulation skills, as well as the essential skills of waiting, turn-taking and learning through modelling. 


  • Stage 4 – Shifting and re-engaging attention

Stage 4 aims to develop the skill of engaging and shifting attention. The adult leader demonstrates a simple creative task, and then gives each child an individual kit to copy the task. The children take their kits to a table, complete the task independently, and then everyone returns to the group to show their completed tasks




1. It’s my bucket, it’s my toys’.

It may seem mean but only the leading adult is allowed to touch the toys. Many children have single channelled attention so if they are playing with the toys, they are not focusing on you. Keep your distance so little hands don’t feel tempted to pick up the toys.


2. Add words gradually

We may instinctively want to start adding in language, but it is important to stay quiet and allow for thinking time. Then gradually increase the language. ‘Ooh it’s a dog’. ‘The dog just flipped’. ‘Again’. ‘flip’. ‘The dog flipped’.


3. Avoid using other reinforces

When carrying out Attention Autism sessions it is important to avoid using other reinforces in the room at the same time. This is because we want the child to be focusing on the adult led activity and not on their reinforcer.


5. Repeat and grow the sessions

Aim to carry out the session 4/5 times a week, start at 1 minute and build up slowly. When your child can attend for 5 minutes, you’re ready for Stage 2 and remember


Stage 1 - Number Colour

Throughout the session we are gaining the attention of children and introducing key words that represent the objects within the bucket.

Stage 2 - Egg Splat

Throughout this session we are aiming to lengthen the time children need to maintain their attention. We continue to embed new vocabularly and offer opportuntiies for consolidation of key learning. There is a link to number representation.

Stage 3 - Baking Soda Balloon

Throughout stage 3 we encourage turn taking and then re engaging attention. An activity is modelled and children are invited to have a go at the session. Georgie is demonstrating a chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar. We continue to embed new vocabularly which is then copied by the children during their turn.