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Billy’s Bucket

biillys bucketKes Gray, Garry Parsons (illus)
Red Fox
Age 3-7

Many children might want a bike or a computer game for their birthday, but not Billy. He is determined to have a bucket, nothing else will do! Having persuaded his parents to buy him one Billy chooses his birthday bucket very carefully, a magical bucket with amazing discoveries inside. This appealing story about the power of imaginative play is great fun to read aloud and provides lots to talk about and do



Share the story

Read aloud
Before starting to read the book aloud look at the cover together. What might Billy be looking at? What do children think will happen in the story?

Read the story aloud allowing time to pause and talk about what is happening or the pictures.

Talk about the story
Look back at the beginning of the story and talk about why Billy might want a bucket for his birthday, why his parents seem to think this is strange and why they keep asking to borrow his bucket. What do children think?

Join in
Re read the book encouraging children to join in with some of the things Billy says such as ‘You must never ever borrow my bucket.”

Tell the story
Once children have heard the story a few times they can be encouraged to retell the story in their own words using the pictures to guide them. They may well slip in some of the words and phrases from the story as they do, listen out for that!

Watch the video
Watch the video on the author’s Youtube channel:

 From: Kes Gray

Things to make and do

Play a memory game
In the same way as the game I went to market and I bought adds a new item with each turn play ‘In Billy’s bucket there was’ with children. Each person can choose things from the story and perhaps, other creatures as well. For example:

First person ‘In Billy’s bucket there was a crab’
Second person ‘In Billy’s bucket there was a crab and some seaweed’
First person ‘In Billy’s bucket there was a crab, some seaweed, and a shark’ etc…

Bucket play
If you have a seaside bucket children can fill it with water and choose plastic toys to put inside. A washing up bowl could be used as well. This could become a ‘Guess what’s in my bucket’ game. It’s great if you have plastic ocean creatures but other small plastic toys would be fun as well, after all it is a magic bucket! Children can make up their own stories about the creatures in the bucket or bowl.

Make a picture
Using paints or crayons children can paint or draw a ‘What’s in Billy’s bucket?’ picture choosing some of their favourite creatures from the story.

Make an information book
Make a mini book about some of the sea creatures in the story. Children can draw a picture on each page. Children beginning to write for themselves could write something they know about their creature on each page as well.
Click here for how to make a zig zag book.

Sing a song

Make up a song about the creatures in the story to a well-known

To the tune of ‘Down in the Jungle’
Deep in the bucket where nobody looks
There’s a great big whale washing his socks
With a rub a dub here and a rub a dub there …

Deep in the bucket where nobody goes
There’s a great big shark washing his toes…. Etc

Or a new version of Old McDonald had a farm:

‘Billy had a new blue bucket….

And in his bucket he had a….’

Sing an Under the Water Song together here.

Find out more

Find out about Kes Gray and his other books here

Titles include:

Eat Your Peas


Leave me Alone

Find out more about ocean creatures by going to the National Geographic for Kids website and typing in ‘ocean creatures’ into the search bar at the top.