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The Tin Forest


Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson (illus)
Age 5-7+

An old man lives alone in a windswept place only visited by people coming to dump the things they don’t want any more. He spent his days working hard to clear the rubbish away and his nights dreaming of living in a beautiful exotic rainforest. One day he has an idea and decides to make himself a forest from tin; full of trees, plants animals and birds.  A bird visits the tin forest briefly delighting the old man who is sad when he leaves. Eventually the bird returns bringing a mate making the old man’s wishes come true. The birds drop seeds which begin to grow into a variety of plants. Soon other creatures arrive and the tin forest is reclaimed by a real forest, teeming with life.

A beautifully written and illustrated story about hope, taking action to change our world and the magic and wonder of growth and life.


Share the story

Read aloud
Read the story aloud and enjoy the pictures together. Re read the story together if children would like to. They will notice more in the story and the illustrations each time they share the book with you. Remember it is important to read the pictures too! Children may like to take turns with you, reading the words on alternate pages.

Talk about the story
Look at the double page spread of the forest the old man made and talk about all the mechanical plants and animals you can see together.

Compare this illustration with the living forest at the back of the book. What is the same? What has changed?

The story is written beautifully. Share your favourite lines and talk about why you chose them

What do children wonder about this story? What puzzles them?

Watch the story

The Tin Forest from jason k caudill on Vimeo.

Things to make and do

Play a word game
The old man made animals beginning with‘t’ for his forest. Can you think of any more (eg tortoise, tapir). Suppose the old man was making a forest with animals beg with b? How many can you think of? You could try other letters too.

Make a soundscape
Using your voices or improvised instruments (eg saucepans or empty plastic bottles with seeds inside) make the sounds of the landscape on the first double page spread together. ‘There was once a wide windswept place’ ….. and then you could try to make the sounds for the living forest, full of life at the back of the book.

Draw a picture
Children could draw their own picture of a forest, ‘…near nowhere and close to forgotten filled with all the things no one wanted’

Make a model or collage tin forest
Children could make a junk model tin forest with boxes and tubes covered in foil or a collage of a tin forest using shiny paper and newspaper shapes stuck onto a large sheet of paper.

Role play
Role play together: children could imagine they are a reporter (a cardboard tube microphone would help them get in role) and you could pretend to be the old man answering questions, for example about why he made a tin forest. Older children may like to write a newspaper report about the interview with a caption, headline and picture.

Make a poster
Children could make a poster to tell visitors to the forest not to drop litter or dump unwanted things. They will need to decide on a message eg ‘Don’t Drop Litter’ ‘No Dumping’ or ‘Take your Rubbish Home’ or something similar. Using A4 or A3 paper they can write their slogan in big and bold letters and design a picture to go with it.


Find out more

See our activity page for Pandora by Victoria Turnbull  another beautiful picturebook about transformation, the natural world and regeneration.

See our collection of picturebooks about Our World 

Find out more about writer and illustrator Helen Ward 

Find out more about illustrator Wayne Anderson