Primary Social Studies Fieldwork in Children’s Localities and Beyond, pp. 3 of 10

Table 2: Themes, Aspects of Children’s Localities and Inquiry Questions for Fieldwork (Adapted from Catling, S. & Willy, T. (2018). Understanding and Teaching Primary Geography. London: Sage.)


Aspects of Children’s Localities

Inquiry Questions


  • Place identity

Nature of places

  • Local features and micro-places (e.g. street furniture, fields, streets, etc)
  • The physical landscape (e.g. its slope, flat areas, rivers, streams, etc)
  • Residents in the area (long term and recent residents)


  • What do we know about our locality?
  • What is our area like?
  • What is special about it?
  • How is the land used across the area?
  • What is the land used for when we look in each direction from the school?
  • What can we find out about the land use around our home?
  • Human activities within locality and beyond (residential, recreational, economical)
  • People’s lives and use of the local area (e.g. where they shop and why)
  • Local activities and events
  • Leisure activities, play areas and parks
  • Land/building use (e.g. types and varieties of use)
  • Service/goods provision (shops/businesses)
  • Work (jobs people do, employment)
  • What are the main activities in the area?
  • What facilities and services are there?
  • What do people do for work and leisure?
  • Who lives in our locality?
  • Why do they live in our area?
  • Connectivity to other places


  • Access (ease of getting to places)
  • Travel: journeys, transport
  • How are the places  connected?
  • Patterns and layout
  • The patterns of streets and layout of the locality
  • Variety of types of housing along streets and in estates
  • How are different land uses arranged within an area?
  • Why are they arranged in such a manner?
  • Weather and mico-climate
  • Local weather impacts and micro-climate
  • What is the local weather like?
  • Interactions between place and human activities
  • Relationships between features and human activities
  • What human activities take place in the area?
  • How do human activities affect the place? 


  • Place identity

Character of places

  • Focus of area (e.g. suburb, business/industrial park, farmland, shopping centre)


  • What sort of character does our locality have?
  • How do we know that it is such a place?


  • Community


  • The type of settlement and its community


  • Who makes up the local community?
  • Cohesion and diversity
  • The diversity within and cohesion of the community
  • What localities are like, feel like, look like
  • Areas and sites that appear prosperous and that seem to be neglected or run down
  • What are the commonalties and diversities of the different groups of people in the community?


  • People’s perceptions of places

Sense of place

  • Views of people regarding  places and their environments
  • Appreciations of places (e.g. likes, dislikes about features, activities and places)
  • Concerns and what is valued about places
  • A sense of belonging and identity with the locality, what it means


  • How do we think and feel about our place?
  • What is important to people about our locality?
  • What do people do and like to do locally?



  • Sustainability
  • Environmental conservation/protection
  • Environmental management
  • Citizenship and local environmental participation


Management and improvement of places

  • Responsibility for local services (e.g. rubbish collection, how are these carried out)
  • Identifying local issues (e.g. traffic and parking, housing development)
  • Safeguarding the area and its inhabitants from local hazards (such as flooding)
  • How damage and pollution of the locality are tackled
  • Care for the local environment
  • What people might want the place to be like



  • How do we look after our local area?
  • In what ways have people affected our locality?
  • What changes would we like to see in the future and why?


  • Change and continuity

Changing places

  • How the localities have become the way they are
  • How and why the localities are changing
  • Changes in land use, features and activities, on individual sites or large tracts of land
  • Who makes the decision leading to change and why
  • Conflict over change


  • What are changing in our place?
  • How are our places changed?
  • Why do they change?
  • Impacts of change
  • The impacts of changes on people, places and the environments
  • How localities may change and become in future
  • What problems are posed to the community as a result of the changes?  
  • What are the impacts of change?


  • Place identity

Place locations and connections

  • Where features and activities occur in the local area


  • What are the physical features in the area?
  • What are the human features in the area?
  • Interconnectivity
  • Link to other places locally, regionally and globally (transport, good/services)
  • How are places linked to one another?
  • How do the linkages benefit or limit places?
  • Places of different scale
  • Localities in the wider geographical context, local to global (from locality to surrounding region to country to continent to the world)
  • Ways in which places are interdependent, benefits and limitations
  • How are the places of different scale connected to one another?
  • How do they influence each other?


  • Place comparison 

Comparing places

  • How localities compare with other localities
  • How and why localities are similar to and different from other places in the same country and elsewhere in the world
  • The valuing of commonality and diversity within and between places


  • How are the localities similar?
  • How are they different?
  • How can the localities be valued?

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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