Don’t Spill The Milk! By Stephen Davies


  • Paper plates , one for each child and 10 extra for transitions


  • Grasslands (Park lands with tall grass)
  • Dunes (giant hills made of sand)
  • Desert jinn’s (genies)
  • Looming (approaching)
  • Absorb (to soak into something)
  • Chore (to do a task or job for someone)

Introducing the Book

Ask the children if they ever help their parent/s at home. What kinds of things do you do to help? (I helped my Daddy wash his car, I make my bed, I play with my baby when Grandma is cooking supper) Hold up the cover of the book and tell the children that this is the story about a little girl who helps her Mother. Explain that in the bowl is milk that she is to carry to her Father. Ask the children if they have ever carried anything on their heads. Tell them in parts of the world people carry things on their heads and they get SO good at it that they do not even have to hold onto the item/bowl. Introduce the story.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.

Reading the Book

On the pages where Penda is talking to herself, read a little slower so the children can feel her determination to get the milk on top of her head to her father without spilling a drop.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.  

When you get to the page where the milk spills and Penda says, “It’s all gone!” ask the children what they think will happen next. 

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; develops increasing ability to find more than one solution to a question, task, or problem AND LIteracy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates abilities to retell and dictate stories from book sna experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Book

When you get to the page that says, “Tell her it comes with all my love”, see if the children can look at the picture and recall some of the places that Penda carried the milk.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

Music and Movement

Get out the beanbags and tell the children to put a beanbag on top of their head. Can they walk forward without the beanbag falling? Backwards? Can they bend down slowly and touch the ground? What other ways can they think of to carry the beanbag (on their foot, on their bent over back, on their shoulder). Let them practice doing different walks and movements without dropping the beanbag.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; shows increasing levels of proficiency, control, and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, and galloping.


Put a tray or cookie sheet onto the science center table. On the tray put a variety of objects that will absorb water and some that will not. (Cotton ball, paper towel, part of a clean-unused diaper, a scarf, and a piece of construction paper. Also include items such as a crayon, a Lego, and a plastic animal). Give the children a small cup of water and an eyedropper. Let them experiment filling the dropper with water and squirting it onto the object. What happens to the water? Talk with them as they experiment asking, “Do you think that paper towel will absorb the water”? Have them sort the items by those that absorb water and those that do not.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.


Open the book to the mask dance page and tell the children that they are going to make their own masks. Put out markers and collage materials. When the children have completed their masks they can be attached to a sentence strip to be worn, or to a popsicle stick to be held in front of their face.

Creative Arts/Art; develops growing abilities to plan, work independently, and demonstrates care and persistence in a variety of art project.

Sand and Water

Put water in the table today and add plastic lids of various sizes and small manipulatives such a counting bears. Challenge the children to put different amounts of bears onto the plastic lid that is floating in the water. Do certain lids hold more bears? Does the shape of the lid matter? Let the children explore floating and buoyancy (the ability to stay afloat).

Science/Scientific Knowledge; begins to describe and discuss predictions, explanations, and generalizations based on past experiences. AND       Mathematics/Number & Operation; begins to use language to compare numbers of objects with terms such as more, less, greater than, fewer, and equal to.

Library and Writing

Put the book into the center along with any other multicultural books you may have and a globe/world map. As the children pick up a book, show them on the globe/map, where the story takes place. Always show them where your school is located also.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; begins to express and understand concepts and language of geography in the contexts of the classroom, home, and community.

Dramatic Play

Encourage the children to work together and clean the center. Give them damp paper towels to wipe the shelves. Tell them thank you for your good cooperation.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; increases abilities to sustain interactions with peers by helping, sharing, and discussing.

Math and Manipulatives

Give children a small manipulative such as a counting bear and have them follow your verbal directions. Ask them to make their manipulative climb up their body and then back down to their knee. Have the manipulative go around their knee and hide behind. Have their manipulative now come around to the front of their body and now go beside. Ask the children if they can make their manipulative go under a body part and then over another body part. Have them put the manipulative beside them and clap their hands as they did a good listening job.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; builds an increasing understanding of directionality, order, and positions of objects, and words such as up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside, outside, in front, behind.

Outdoor play

Challenge the children to work together today using shovels to dig a long river in your sandbox. Can they add some dunes to the side of the river? If the weather is not too cold, let the children help fill the river up with water. What happens to the water? Remind those who were in the science center today that this is another form of absorption!

Science/Scientific Knowledge; shows increased awareness and beginning understanding of changes in materials and cause-effect relationships.  AND    Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns in games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive.


On 1-10 paper plates, write a letter on each. These should be letters that begin with the children’s names or letters that you have been working on with the children. Scatter the letters about on the floor about a step away from each other. Tell the children that they will have to walk the path to get to the next activity. Have one child at a time stand up beside the letters. Ask them if they can name the letter as they step onto the paper plate. Or you can name the letters and then they step onto the plate. Have them walk on 3-5 letters and then send them off to the next activity.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; Knows that the letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named.


Dear Parents-Today we read a book about a little girl who helps her Mother by carrying milk to her Father who is up in the grasslands shepherding sheep. See if you can find a way that your child can be a helper to you doing something for someone else or around the house. Make sure to thank them after they have completed the chore and to tell them how much you appreciate them being a helper to you.

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.