More Than Just “Tweet-Tweet”

NBIRD_COVERIt’s spring. You’re out for a morning walk and you hear birds singing! It’s more than just “tweet-tweet.”  You hear buzzes, warbles, and trills. Maybe even a quack. Why are birds singing? And what are they saying? And WHO are these birds anyway?

Get the answers to these questions in this week’s lesson plan!

LESSON PLAN: Dawn Chorus

Listening to birds is a fascinating way to learn about animal communication. Noisy Bird Sing-Along introduces students to the sounds of 12 common birds. In this activity, students imitate the sounds of the birds as you “conduct” them in a “dawn chorus”—after listening to recordings of actual birds!
You may follow the directions below, or download a PDF of the lesson, which includes two handouts.

Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
Reading: Informational Text
•Craft and Structure (K.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5)
•Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
Speaking and Listening
•Comprehension and Collaboration (K.1, 1.1, 2.1, 3.1)

Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)

LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
A: Structure and Function
B: Growth and Development of Organisms
C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
D: Information Processing

Suggested Grade Level: K-3


  • The book Noisy Bird Sing-Along
  • Handout: “About the birds in this book,” included in PDF
  • Handout: “Bird Sounds,” one copy to post or write on the board, included in PDF
  • Overhead projector or white board
  • Computer access to play the online sounds of actual birds from the Dawn Publications website
Teacher Prep:
Cut apart the handout so that each bird is on a separate slip of paper


1. Read aloud Noisy Bird Sing-Along. Have students imitate the sound on each page. Point out that some birds have
melodious songs, others have calls, and the woodpecker makes a noise called “drumming.” The additional
information on the page refers to the habitat and feeding behavior of each bird.
2. Discuss the reasons why birds sing. Then reread the book again, but this time play the recording of the
actual bird, which is available on the Dawn Publications website. Listen for the sounds as they are written in the book; for example, ask students if they can hear “cheery up, cheerio” in the actual robin’s song.
3. Explain that birds are active singers in the early morning as they’re waking up and establishing territory
or singing to attract mates. The sound of many birds singing in the morning is called the “dawn chorus.”
4. Tell the class that you’re going to conduct them in a dawn chorus. Divide the class into small groups and
assign each of them a bird. Give each group a slip of paper with information about their bird. Choose one
student to read it aloud to the entire class.
5. Refer to the list of “Bird Sounds” (either projected or written on the board). Give groups a few moments
to rehearse their sounds. When they’re ready, point to one group at a time and have them “sing” for the
others. You may go in the same order as presented in the book, or you may choose to have the wood-
peckers begin tapping to set the rhythm for other groups to join in.
6. Now they’re ready for the dawn chorus! Point to a group and have them make their sound and keep
singing as you point to the other groups. Let the entire chorus resound for several seconds. If possible,
make a recording of the performance to play back to the class

Note: This activity is adapted from Bird Sleuth’s Feathered Friends Activities, a collection of monthly lessons about birds. You can download an entire year of activities!
Take advantage of the free information and resources at BirdSleuth K-12.

subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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