Primary Social Studies Fieldwork in Children’s Localities and Beyond, pp. 9 of 10

The two samples illustrate some possible fieldwork activities in children’s localities. One common fieldwork activity in both samples is observation which is learning to look carefully and is an important skill for pupils to learn and develop. Observation is a part of sensing and sensing is useful for children to understand and appreciate their environments (Scoffham, 2017). Children can identify what they can see, hear, smell, feel and even taste (the last should be used with discretion). Besides spotting features as illustrated in the samples, Scoffham (2017) also suggested other activities for fieldwork. These include asking pupils to go on sensory walks and getting them to draw mental maps based on their observations. Alternatively, pupils can use their mobile phones or digital cameras to take photographs of features and display them with captions around a map of the area after the fieldwork. They can draw field sketches of small areas, provide a title and write short notes. ‘1-spy’ activity can be organised around key vocabulary associated with the features in the localities and beyond. Teachers can also get pupils to close their eyes, listen to the sounds in their surroundings and compare them in different places. They can then describe their feelings and discuss the place ambience.  Another activity can be a scavenger hunt for locating features marked on the maps and describe the human activities and the environment.

Conclusion

Children’s localities offer many rich learning opportunities for the teaching of primary social studies. Because of their accessibility, they should be explored and studied by children to develop their knowledge and understanding of their local environments and the people living there. Their local areas also offer them meaningful contexts to hone skills such as observation, questioning and thinking, and deepen their sense of place, appreciation for and connection with their communities. As such, the potentials of children’s localities and beyond through inquiry fieldwork should be tapped to achieve purposeful and powerful social studies learning for children.    

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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