The kids and I have been working hard on completing our their John Muir Trust Award – Discover Level this term, and at the same time have been trying to use it as a vehicle for completing some year 3 and year 5 science goals. I decided to make a little spotters guide for the kids to use in the forest, using various sources to make a list of some of the things they were most likely to find in the forest and some they’d have to work on too.

Parkhurst Forest Study Guide

Since Parkhurst Forest is listed as an SSSI – a site of special scientific interest – there are some pretty amazing things in this forest.

The booklet lists the things that make the forest special, but then, because I am a sucker for punishment, I decided to add interesting information to each item so that the kids can see how it all works together – for example, in the north of the forest there is a patch of wych elm. The larvae of the white-letter hairstreak butterfly only eat wych elm, and when, a few years ago, a dutch elm disease wiped out huge swaths of elm trees around the country, the population of the white-letter hairstreak drastically declined as they lost their food source.  There’s a good patch of wych elm in Parkhurt, so in the summer that section of the forest is alive with white-letter hairstreak butterflies!  I find it so fascinating and exciting how nature works together.

This intricate web of information within the booklet not only highlights the unique features of the forest but also adds a layer of educational depth for the young readers. By intertwining interesting facts with each listed item, the booklet not only captivates the imagination but also serves as a valuable learning tool. Such details provide a holistic understanding of the ecosystem, showcasing the delicate balance and interdependence of its various elements. As children delve into the pages, they not only discover the distinctiveness of the forest but also gain insights into the broader ecological dynamics at play. The importance of the booklet transcends mere documentation; it becomes a gateway to fostering a deeper connection with nature. When opting for the printing process, choosing saddle stitch booklet printing ensures that these captivating narratives are presented in a visually appealing and well-organized manner. The saddle-stitch method not only preserves the coherence of the content but also adds a tactile quality to the booklet, enhancing the overall reading experience for curious minds.

Another fun fact for you – Holly might be spiky and not the most pleasant plant to work with, but it can be home to birds and even small mammals in the winter months when it’s evergreen leaves provide shelter that’s hard to find around the rest of the forest, and for the most part, the spiky leaves keep other predators out! How fascinating is nature?

While this book does focus specifically on Parkhurst forest you can actually use all the contents beyond the title and history pages for most of the forests in the South of England and possibly beyond. It may not be 100% accurate for your local bit of woodland, but for the most part you should be able to adapt it.

You can download this booklet for free, but you will find yourself added to a newsletter, should I ever get into the habit of sending out newsletters. By downloading it you’re agreeing to being added to the newsletter, but you’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time. 

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We’ve used this booklet as part of the ‘discover’ and ‘explore’ goals for our John Muir Trust Award, but you can also use it for exploring forest habitats. The National Trust has a great outline for Key Stage 2 Forest Habitat learning. Also have a look at our our worksheets for:


Layers of the forest 

Wildlife in the forest layers (coming soon) 

Small mammals – footprints and food (coming soon) 

Red Squirrel Crossword Puzzle (coming soon) 

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