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The Dawn Chorus

Suzanne Barton
Age 3-5

This is a delightful story about Peep, a tiny nightingale who loves singing and is desperate to audition for the ‘Dawn Chorus’. Unsurprisingly, he finds he is not cut out for early rising!

As well as lots to find out about birds here there’s a chance to talk about wanting to belong, being different and having different skills.


Share the story

Read aloud

Read the story aloud to your child, it might be fun to try different voices for the different creatures as you read eg the owl and the squeaky mouse.

Join in

Once children are familiar with the story they could join in as you read, perhaps with the conversations, choosing to be Peep or the other animals he comes across.

Talk about the story

  • Talk about unfamiliar words eg audition, conductor.

  • Talk about how Peep feels at different points in the story eg when he first hears the dawn chorus, when he misses his audition and when he meets another nightingale

  • Talk about words for different times of the day in the story eg dawn, midday, sunset.

Things to make and do

Design a bird mural
Look at the beautiful pictures in the book of Peep and the other birds, the artist uses lots of colours and patterns. Your child could make their own bird design using colour pencils, crayons or collage using scraps from wrapping paper or magazines.

You could create a great big picture or mural together with lots of birds like the double page spread of the dawn chorus. Start by drawing long branches across a wide piece of paper for your child then make lots of individual birds together, each with different colours and patterns, cut them out and stick them on the branches. When you have finished find somewhere to hang your mural.

Create your own dawn chorus music
If you have a recorder tin whistle or other woodwind instrument children could try and make sounds like birdsong or improvise using straws cut to different lengths and stuck together to make pan pipes.

See here for how to make a straw flute

Find out more

  • See our activity page for another book by Suzanne Barton, Robin’s Winter Song 

  • Listen to the dawn chorus here

  • Listen to the song of the nightingale

  • Go for a walk in the woods or park and listen out for bird songs. Can you see the birds that are singing? (This can be difficult, but you may get glimpses of them.)

  • Take a bird identification book (such as i-SPY Garden Birds from Michelin) with you or look at one online when you get back.

  • Take part in “Dawn chorus day”. Find out more here: NB You will need to get up very early!

  • Make a bird food cake and hang it outside where your child can watch and try to identify which birds come to feed.