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The Cuckoo

What do our hearts look like?

by Janice Ross (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider how the attitudes of our hearts are what we are remembered for.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children if any of them have recently noticed the birds singing. Point out that this is a lovely time of year for hearing birdsong. You could use the RSPB site to allow the children to listen to birdsongs that are fairly common in their school locality and ask whether they can identify some of the birds from their song.

  2. Explain that some birds have a distinctive call and, because they are summer visitors, we are only likely to enjoy this in the summer months.

  3. Play the recording of the cuckoo and ask the children to identify the call. Cuckoos always remind people of the hazy days of summer.

  4. Look at the images of the cuckoo. Talk about its size, colour and markings from the information given on the websites.

  5. Explain that, despite the fact that the cuckoo’s song is a reminder of summer sun, people don’t always think of the cuckoo, which is a large, beautiful bird with attractive barred markings, with affection. That is because of the behaviour and actions of this bird.

  6. Explain that, unfortunately, the cuckoo is known to be lazy, selfish and even unkind. It never builds its own nest; instead, it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Not only that, but if the owner of the nest has already laid some eggs, the cuckoo will dispose of them, either by eating them or by dropping them to the ground. She then leaves her egg for the little bird to hatch and feed.

  7. Show the video of the large cuckoo chick being fed by the reed warbler.

  8. In the Bible, Jesus often told his followers to look at the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. There are lessons to be learned from them.

  9. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the cuckoo is that if our behaviour and actions are unkind, greedy or selfish, that is what we will be remembered for. It won’t matter how clever we are, how attractive we might look or how pleasant we might sound. The most important thing is what our hearts are like.

Time for reflection

Often, we spend a lot of time thinking about our outward appearance.

However, the question for today is, What are our hearts really like?’

Dear God,
Thank you for the lessons we can learn from the cuckoo.
Help us to have kind and considerate hearts.


‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)

Publication date: August 2016   (Vol.18 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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