Maryland's Got Milk

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Students will be able to sort common objects into categories and gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Big Idea

Looking through environmental print sources helps students label their dairy items.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students we are going to take a brief survey.

“Who here likes to drink milk?”

I count the number of students who raise their hands.

“17 people in a class of 20 like to drink milk. If 17 people like to drink milk, how many people do not like to drink milk?”

“Great math work Carson; how did you get your answer?”

“Carson used a great resource to help him get his answer; he used the hundreds chart and counted back from twenty until he got to seventeen. Nice one.”

“Well guess what? 17 people in this class like to drink the state drink. That should give you a big clue as to what our next Maryland symbol is.”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “Milk!”

“You are all right; the state drink is milk.”


I use this survey as a fun way to get the students thinking about milk and this will be used as an introduction to dairy products in general.  


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called Milk: From Cow to Carton, written and illustrated by Aliki. Looking at the cover I can see where the milk comes from. Where do most of you get your milk from?”

I select the students who have their hands raised to respond to the question; there will be a variety of answers.

“Those were all good places to get milk from. I get mine from the grocery store at the end of my street, but sometimes I get mine form the farmers market like Sara does.”

“Let’s go ahead and read our focus lesson book.”  


During reading we stop and discuss vocabulary words like, graze and pasture. We review old vocabulary words from our previous map unit – mountains, valleys, etc.  


When the book is over I set it to the side and ask, “Can anyone tell me one fact they learned from the book?”

I select enough students to respond to cover the most basic facts from the book.

“Those were all great facts. I can tell you were listening to the book as we read it together.”

“You heard some dairy products mentioned in the book. Can anyone give me a dairy product?”

I select students who raise their hand to respond.

“Well done. Does anyone know which food group dairy products belong in?”

I select any student who raises their hand. There is usually not a lot of response to this particular question.

“I am going to tell you that dairy products fit in the protein family and some are in the fats family. Does anyone remember what we need protein for?”

I select a student who is following the classroom protocol of raising their hand.

“Well done Kara; protein is used for growth and repair. We need it to help our bodies grow strong and we need it for when we break bones or our skin. Protein is also used as long term energy. Carbohydrates give us quick energy, but protein energy lasts longer.”

“Today at one of your work stations you will be going through the resources provided there to find dairy products. You will be sorting through the food items found in the flyers and magazines. When you find a dairy product, you will need to cut it out and glue it onto your recording sheet (I hold up the recording sheet so the students know what it looks like).”

Dairy Product Recording Sheet

“When you have five items glued onto your recording sheet you will need to label your items.”

I lean over and whisper to the students in a conspiring way, “Now if you are careful when you cut the dairy products out you will notice that many of them already have the labels under them. If you think the label is the right word you can use that.”

My students nod eagerly as they think they have now been let into some big secret. Acting like this encourages my students to really look at the print as well as the pictures.    

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some dairy finding fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 

 Student working on activity

Student going through store flyers for dairy items.

Students looking through flyers for dairy items.



Labeling items involves many skills that the students will use later on in different subjects. When students are sorting items the categories they are putting the items into are often labeled so it is important for students to recognize what labels are and how they help the reader. Many non-fiction texts use labels to aid in reader comprehension and this can be pointed out to students as another feature to look for when deciding if the book they are reading is fiction or non-fiction. In today's activity it is pointed out that the labels help the reader determine what the item is which helps the reader decide whether it is an item they need or not.  

Becoming proficient at labeling the items themselves helps promote good work habits through skills such: using books to research information, writing letters while recording the labels, and increasing vocabulary skills as the students discuss label choices with their table partners. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me their favorite dairy product.

“Today’s exit ticket is you need to tell me your favorite dairy product. It can be any dairy product that you like to eat or drink. Think about the dairy products you saw while you were looking through the food flyers from the grocery stores and the magazines.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her dairy product they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a dairy product together.


Exit Ticket as an Assessment.


I use the Dairy Item Sort Checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objective of the assignment. I am looking to see if a student recognizes what a dairy product is and attempts to label it some way. The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 


Make a “milk” painting using white paint. We read the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw and then we made our spilt “milk” picture to make into a class book.

Student deciding what their painting looks like.

Student recording what her image looks like.



Find words that have the short /i/ vowel sound like the word milk.

Our group work.

Students using the SMARTBoard as a resource.

Student looking for items with the short i sound.

One of the items she used.

Student sharing her short i like in the word milk.


Students made butter by shaking heavy whipping cream in small Gladware containers. We spread the butter on bread and ate it while we drank our milk at snack time. We provided chocolate syrup for the students who prefer to drink chocolate milk.  

Students drinking milk for snack.