Tips For Using The Great Sea Dragon Discovery In The Classroom By Pippa Goodhart

I’m delighted to welcome author, Pippa Goodheart to my blog to discuss all things Sea dragons and how you could use her new book, The Great Sea Dragon Discovery, in the classroom.


By Pippa Goodhart

It was a school visit that got me thinking about writing a story that revolved around fossils.  A child enthusiastically told me about Darwin and ideas of evolution and dinosaurs, and there was a display of books about fossils to go with a display of children’s artwork.  There were story books too, but all of them involved fantasy.  None were about the true discovery about the evolution of life on our planet.  I grew up in a village that in the 1860s was mined for coprolites, ‘dinosaur poo’, to make fertiliser.  Cambridge’s Sedgwick Museum has samples of those coprolites, but also some amazing fossils found along with the coprolites.  My story’s main character, Bill, developed in my mind, growing up in the same village that I did a hundred years later.  I got immersed in Bill and his family’s story and thought no more about modern day schools.

Now that The Great Sea Dragon Discovery is published, I’m thinking again about schools.  The story explores Adaption, Inheritance, and Evolution that are part of KS2 Science curriculum, but could be used inother ways too.  For example:

  • There are secrets kept in this story and lies told.  Is it ever right to tell lies?  Can the children think of a good lie (e.g. to hide a lovely surprise for somebody)?  What does it feel like when you find out you have been lied to?  Or when you know that others are keeping a secret from you?  Is it ever right to do a bad thing in order to achieve something good?  
  • The Victorian setting for this story brings up questions of class and money that resonate today.  Is having lots of money or having a loving family the greater wealth to own?  
  • Let the children try dyeing daisy flowers, as Bill does, by adding ink (not of the indelible kind if you don’t want cross parents!) to the water their stems are put into.  Does this work with other kinds of flowers?  Other kinds of colouring?  Don’t forget to have a ‘control’ to the experiment by giving one daisy plain water.
  • Get the children to create their own creatures out of odd bits and pieces.  They might have a starting point, as Bill and Alfie do with their fossil head.  Shark teeth are fun, and cheap to buy in bulk.  Then get the children to write a story about their creature, rather as Alfie weaves stories about their ‘dragon’ to draw punters to their dragon show.  Maybe some children would like to tell their story, showman style, as Alfie does, rather than writing it down?  

But, most of all, I hope that children will be able to experience this story as story, without stopping to analyse my writing enroute.  Can teachers find time to read it out loud, perhaps a chapter a day (they’re quite short chapters), so that the whole class go on the story journey together?  I do hope so.  

Thank you so much Pippa, I know I’ll be recommending The Great Sea Dragon Discovery to my class teachers!

About The Book…


The Great Sea Dragon Discovery by Pippa Goodhart

From the author of the popular Winnie the Witch fiction series comes THE GREAT SEA DRAGON DISCOVERY – a compelling historical fiction novel set in a fascinating and unusual time when Darwin and the discovery of dinosaurs were changing the way people saw the world.

Set in Cambridge 1860, THE GREAT SEA DRAGON DISCOVERY is a compelling story that intersects with the real events of the time when dinosaur fossils were being unearthed. Readers follow the curious young Bill as he tries to do the right thing and help his family through a difficult time by making money selling fossils that he finds. But the adventure really begins after he makes a startling discovery …

Would a plant drink ink as happily as it would drink water? Is there anything that eats a cat? How did any spider know how to make such a perfect sticky net for catching flies?

Bill’s head is full of questions and it always seems to get him into trouble. Especially when one of his experiments causes his father to lose his job. Bill gets a bit of money for his family selling interesting fossils he has found. But it’s not much – and then someone else needs his help and fast.

And it just so happens that Bill has discovered something – something that could be the answer to his problems. But for the rest of the world, it is something that questions everything…

THE GREAT SEA DRAGON is the perfect novel for readers who love adventure stories and are fascinated with natural history. It’s a fun companion to subjects covered in school and will bring alive those school trips to natural history museums.

The Great Sea Dragon Discovery by Pippa Goodhart out now in paperback (£6.99, Catnip).

About the author…

Pippa Goodhart is a popular author of over thirty children’s books including the Winnie the Witch series and A Dog Called Flow which was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize. Pippa Goodhart’s Raven Boy was in the 2015 Booktrust Read for My School packs, while Finding Fortune was picked for the 2015 Summer Reading Challenge. Pippa is a history graduate and a former teacher and bookseller. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Find out more at and connect with her@pippagoodhart

‘Raven Boy is a thrilling, fast-paced and highly informative story.  A must read!’–  North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award on Raven Boy

‘Thrilling’ – The School Run on Raven Boy


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