Posted 23/7/17
This video was created by John Wells from the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory (website here). John created the video by placing a GoPro camera at the bottom of a bucket of water. This Videotelling activity makes use of a story which I have based on the video narrative.
  • Language level: B1+
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Activity: A Videotelling activity
  • Topic: Water & thirst
  • Language: Past perfect continuous
  • Materials: Video & text
The eye of the bucket pdf [downloaded 948 times]

The story

John lives in Southwest Texas
He has a little house in middle of the desert
Although he lives alone, he has many friends and visitors

It was a hot day
The sun was high
Everything was dry
John placed a bucket of cold water on the ground
He thought to himself:
“I wonder who will come and drink today?”

The first visitors to arrive were some bees
The bees were thirsty because they had been making honey
Now, bees might drink water from a raindrop
Or from the edge of a puddle, or the side of a pond
But a bucket of water?
Be careful bees!
Oh no! Some of them fall into the water
John to the rescue:
He pulls them out with a stick
They dry in the sun
They fly away

After that: two thirsty birds
They had been sunbathing on John’s roof
They fly down and land on the side of the bucket
They dip in their beaks
And then they’re gone

The next animal to arrive was a rabbit called George
George was thirsty because he had been running around in the desert with the other rabbits
He holds onto the sides of the bucket with his paws
He leans forward and uses his tongue to spoon the water into his mouth

Then it’s the roosters: Chupa and Manny
They were thirsty because they had been wrestling with each other in the shed
They walk over to the bucket
And take a drink

And then, a passing burro
She was thirsty because she had been standing on the corner, waiting for John to give her a carrot
She puts her nose in the bucket
And quenches her thirst

And finally Ben, the longhorn steer
Ben had been lying in the field, chewing the cud
John led him to the water
But couldn’t make him drink
“Perhaps he’ll be thirsty later,” thought John

So Ben, the longhorn steer, went back to his field and continued to chew the cud
The burro went back to her corner and continued to wait for a carrot
Chupa and Manny went back to the shed and continued wrestling with each other
George the rabbit went back to the desert and continued to run around with the other rabbits
The two birds flew back to John’s roof and continued sunbathing
And the bees – well the bees eventually learned how to drink water from a bucket without falling in

John sat down in the evening sun
And opened a cold beer

Activity outline

The PDF lesson plan at the top of the page has suggestions for using this story and the video in the classroom.

Some notes on the story

In writing this story, I made reference to the comment that John left underneath the video which reads:

Everybody loves water in the desert. I was pleasantly surprised during the edit to see that George made an appearance. I know him from all the other rabbits because of the tiny notch in his ear. A burro just happened to come by in time to be included. Ben went against the script and decided to just nudge the bucket. You can lead a steer to water but you can’t make him drink. Note: The swimming bees were rescued.

John Wells’ project provides an interesting case study for students of engineering or environmental studies. John provides a lot of information about his project on his blog at

Some more videos from John Wells’ channel


Posted 23/7/17

6 Responses to The eye of the bucket

  1. sihamhayat says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Thank you for the video because I really enjoyed seeing it and thank you too much for the analyses that you had done . Your english is so perfect and is better than mine where I was obliged to use the dictionary for some words (I am not a native speaker). It is not easy to prepare a video activity because I think that someone should be more imaginative and inventive (everything comes in your mind) and I am afraid to do mistakes . I am more classical teacher ie I don’t use too much technology in teaching and I am a simple teacher and I like the white board . Next year hopefully I will try to use videos in my teaching.
    Bye .SIHAM

  2. Ali says:

    Thank you so much Jamie for your story.
    it’s so interesting with fruitful activities .
    what i want to know is that could the teacher shed the light on grammar points-past perfect tense?
    Thanks in advance.

  3. Kathy Sampson says:

    Great Jamie have been waiting to see what you came up with, and it is fantastic as I thought it would be! Shall be using this evening with my group of adults!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Marga Homar says:

    Hi Jamie, another super activity to surprise our students with very interesting points. I love it! In fact I think I’ll do it with my older students on the very first day! As always, you show your creativity and skill to keep the suspense while the students learn important vocabulary and the use of basic grammar points to improve their English. It’s so accurate that nothing is missing. What I would call a PERFECT ACTIVITY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUCH VALUABLE FREE MATERIAL YOU PROVIDE. YOU ARE VERY GENEROUS!

  5. Lucy says:

    Hi Jamie, tried it out this morning.

    I think the whole idea of farming was a bit lost on my ss (and myself so I think I couldn’t sell it to them) but maybe because of that they took the story even further, started looking for metaphors and alternative perspectives: What if there was a drone floating above the unsuspecting farmer, recording him (drinking, idling his days away, staring at the bucket) BTW: Who stares at buckets!
    Then they steered towards politics – the farmer turned into the one and only narcissistic, condescending Trump enjoying a drink and observing his ‘subjects’ (Mrs T got her ‘bucket’ role too!)… while the drone camera was observing them and recording every move … Then a Twitter frenzy … And then they were so pleased with their story that they ‘let’ me do the grammar: Why did Donald need a drink? … It was mad, weird and it was fun! Thanks for the video!

  6. anntonia says:

    Antonia says :
    August 17, 2017 at 7:42 pm
    Hi ,Jamie
    today afternoon I followed a webinar and discovered “Videotelling ” you tube ” stories for the classroom . I subscribed the newsletter and I’ll never miss a lesson plan . I really enjoyed watching this video , the activity and the notes about the story . In September I’ll try to use it with my students.
    thanks a lot for this great and free materials