Billy’s Bucket by Kes Gray


This is the story of Billy. All Billy wants for his birthday is an ordinary, yellow bucket.
When he receives the bucket, he immediately fills it with water and describes amazing under the sea events and creatures to his disbelieving parents (including a stingray, a clown fish and a shoal of barracuda, to name a few!).
Billy warns his parents repeatedly to “never, ever borrow his bucket”. When Dad does borrow it (to clean the car), he’s shocked to find a blue whale stranded on his bonnet after throwing the contents of the bucket over his car!


This story is engaging for all children. It promotes imagination and play using simple artefacts.
The vocabulary is well suited to KS1, providing some challenging words alongside many familiar key words, which allows for independent reading. The style in which it is written, provides children with speech that is easily animated and is a great way to engage children with using expression in story telling.

The pictures are exciting and complement the story well.

Year 1 children in particular enjoyed the repetition warning the parents not to borrow the bucket!

Inspiration for activities

1) Children to think of questions to ask Billy, then use role-play to pretend to be Billy and answer the questions!

Why do you want a bucket?

What do you want to do with the bucket?

Why is the bucket important to you?

Do buckets make good toys?

Why is a bucket a brilliant toy?

Wow-bucketWhat makes something a toy?

Should we always share?

Should we take things without asking?

Is imagination important?

2) Discuss what could be inside Billy’s Bucket? Explain to the children this is a setting, a place where things happen. E.g. In Red Riding Hood the setting is a wood, in Finding Nemo the setting is the sea, in Fireman Sam the setting is Pontepandy…

Show the children a picture of what is inside your bucket (e.g a desert island, full of colourful birds, a spooky forest full of strange creatures). Any setting will work!

Ask the children to think about what would they see inside their bucket and have a discussion by passing around an empty bucket and the children can describe what they can see!

3) A link to Kes Gray reading the story

NOTE: This is an extremely popular children’s book among teachers. There are many teaching resources available free of charge online!

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