Primary Social Studies Fieldwork in Children’s Localities and Beyond, pp. 5 of 10

Sample Fieldwork in Children’s Localities   

Two sample fieldwork packages, one on Toa Payoh and the other on Tiong Bahru, will be featured to showcase how the inquiry approach can be adopted to study the two localities. They were created by the student teachers from the National Institute of Education in the social studies methods course on fieldwork. Their packages were organised around the four stages of fieldwork, namely pre-fieldwork, fieldwork, post-fieldwork and evaluation or reflection. A scenario for each fieldwork was also constructed to pique pupil curiosity and sustain their interest and motivation. Permission from the student teachers were sought by this author to adapt their work for this article.

Sample 1: Fieldwork in Toa Payoh – Exploring Our Neighbourhood

Designed by Mohammad Aizal Bin Zainol, Elizabeth Deborah Ann Chin Si Min, Lam Siew Ying Esther and Fatin Nazurah Binte Md Yusof, Post-Graduate Diploma in Education, Class of 2017

Fieldwork Duration:

About 2 hours


Primary 1


Neighbourhood, places and needs 


A good neighbourhood has a range of places to cater to residents’ different needs. 

Inquiry Question:

How do places like the void decks, supermarkets, libraries and coffee shops make a good neighbourhood?

Fieldwork Site and Rationale

Toa Payoh means ‘big swamp’ in the Hokkien and Teochew dialects. In the past, it remained mostly a swampland until its clearance for gambier and pepper plantations in the 19th century with settlers organizing themselves into villages (NLB, n.d.). Today, Toa Payoh is very different from its past. It is a mature self-sufficient housing estate with many high-rise flats and diverse facilities and amenities to cater to its residents’ needs. There are several schools located within the housing estate and these include Kheng Cheng School, First Toa Payoh Primary School and Pei Chun Public School.

The identified fieldwork site is located at Toa Payoh Central. It is a prime choice to showcase places which pupils will most likely encounter and make use of in their day-to-day living in their housing estates. The places are carefully selected based on their importance and availability in neigbourhoods as well as their proximity to each other within the locality. Having the places close to each other minimises pupil movement between stations and the possible challenges to learners who may be easily distracted or get tired out because of long walking distance.   

Fieldwork Scenario

Ronaldo, our new classmate from Brazil, has just moved to Singapore. He lives in Block 179 of Toa Payoh Central and wants to know more about the facilities in our neighbourhood. We will be going on a walk around our neighbourhood with him to introduce him to the different places. This will help him to be familiar with them and understand how they help to make our neighbourhood a good place to live in.

Fieldwork Goals

  • At the end of the fieldwork, pupils will be able to:
  • Identify some of the places found in a neighbourhood,
  • Explain how the identified places make a good neighbourhood and meet residents’ needs,
  • Work together in small groups to complete given tasks, and
  • Appreciate the places in their neighbourhoods.

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

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!