Orchard Junior School's New Forest Day

For the past few years I've taken part in Orchard Junior's New Forest Day which sees all of Year 3 getting immersed in the wonderful wildlife, traditions and history of the national park on their doorstep.

The three classes get a third of the day with a representative from the New Forest Museum, a third with a brilliant education officer from the New Forest National Park, and a third with me. My bit focuses on my New Forest Friends children's books where I talk about the themes and the animals that are part of it. We then broaden that out into unusual New Forest animals, introduced creatures and extinct ones (ending with the wild boar with looks like it's about to make a big comeback), with me doing quick cartoon representations for them to identify or guess at. We then do a drawing exercise together, read a story and finish with questions before I do it all over again with the next class.

It's always encouraging when the children let me know that they own copies of the books, and that they can quote aspects of the stories back to me, or relay the dangers or problems that the tales raise in a way that clearly shows they've understood them. But the aim of the day isn't to sell more books but to broaden their awareness of this amazing place, and the enthusiasm I was greeted with today gives me hope it'll be in good hands in the future.

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