The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark

Age Range: 5 - 11

Plop, the Baby Barn Owl, is like every Barn Owl there ever was, except for one thing–he is afraid of the dark. "Dark is nasty" he says and so he won't go hunting with his parents. Mrs. Barn Owl sends him down from his nest-hole to ask about the dark and he meets a little boy waiting for the fireworks to begin, an old lady, a scout out camping, a girl who tells him about Father Christmas, a man with a telescope, and a black cat who takes him exploring. He realizes that through these encounters that dark is super after all.

Book Author: Jill Tomlinson

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Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • The author describes Plop as fat, fluffy, soft and perfect. Can you think of other adjectives? Can you find synonyms for these words?
  • The chapter titles all begin with 'Dark is?'. Can you think of other ways of describing the dark? Could you write another chapter for the story linked to your description? Who might the owl meet in your chapter?
  • Make a list of positive and negative words to describe the dark.
  • Could you write a story about something exciting that happens when it is dark?
  • Could you perform the story with some friends? Watch these clips from the stage version for some ideas:

  • Plop has 'knackety knees'. Can you think of other examples of alliteration? Can you think of alliterative ways of describing an animal (e.g. the elephant has a terrific trunk, the rhino has a huge horn).
  • The author uses the phrase 'a fountain of dancing stars sprang up from the ground' to describe the fireworks. Can you think of other ways of describing your favourite fireworks?
  • Plop doesn't like his name. Can you make a list of possible alternatives?
  • Listen to the audiobook version of the story. Could you record your own, with sound effects?
  • Can you plan and write a story about another animal who is afraid of something that that animal normally likes?
  • Write another story about an owl adventure.


  • Make a timetable that shows the things that you do on a typical day. Add the things that Plop does during his day. How are they similar / different?


  • Write a report about owls. What is their habitat? What do they eat? What special abilities do they have?
  • Can you find out about different types of owl? How are they similar / different?
  • Make a list of animals that come out in the daytime and a list of animals that come out at night.
  • Plop makes an 'EEEEEEEK' sound for the young lady. Think about the different noises that animals make. How do they use these to communicate with each other?
  • Use a telescope to look at the stars, like the man in the story.
  • Can you find the names of different constellations in a book?


  • Use painting software to create an amazing firework scene.


  • Mrs Barn Owl explains that the dark can be 'silver or blue or grey or lots of other colours'. Can you paint a picture showing dark scenes in different colours?
  • Orion the black cat explains that there are 'hot scented summer nights', 'cold windy nights', 'breathless thundery nights' and 'fresh spring nights'. Can you draw a picture of these different types?
  • Can you paint / draw a firework scene that would make the little boy excited?
  • Draw the picture of the owl that the young lady might have added to her Nature Sketch Book.


  • Think of some songs that the Boy Scouts might sing around their fire. Can you sing some of these?


  • Look on a map of your local area and try to find some places that owls might live.


  • Find out about the Scout Assocation and how it first started. How has it changed since then?


  • What things are you frightened of? Can you think of some things that might help you to overcome your fears?


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