When learning about social studies, it is important to think of creative ways to get the class interested in the topic they are learning about as the class may find it hard to find a connection or find it relevant to their lives. For example, when learning about history, children may not find it interesting as it may not be relevant or may not find a link to their lives today. One way to make social studies interesting and exciting for children is through fieldwork/field trips.
Fieldwork can have a big impact on children’s understanding of Social Studies as it allows the children to gain a deeper understanding of the topic they are learning about and makes the learning more realistic for them. Fieldwork also allows children to gain a better understanding of their local area and helps them to create a “mental map” in their heads (Scoffham, 2013, p63)
Fieldwork can be applied to many different aspects of Social Studies. Fieldwork does not have to be far out of the classroom (Catling and Willy, 2009). This means that if there is not a big budget for field trips within the school, children can learn through fieldwork within the school grounds or in their local catchment area. However, when suitable, teachers can take children on a field trip to many different places within the city to further their understanding of the current topic they are learning about.
For History, children can take a field trip to many different places within Dundee or their local community to learn more about the history of their city or their culture. If the class is based within Dundee, there are many different opportunities to learn about the history of Dundee. Some of these include the V&A, The Verdant Works, the McManus Galleries, etc.
For geography, children can take a field trip to places that can teach them about how Dundee has evolved over time and has grown in size and with more businesses, which can also teach children about the business aspects of social studies. An example of a place to go to learn about this would be the McManus Galleries as there is a 3D plan of what Dundee used to be like and children can identify how much it has changed.
Visit to McManus Galleries
As part of our Social Studies elective, we took a pre-visit trip to the McManus Galleries to get a better understanding of what children could learn during a field trip to this museum. The McManus Galleries offers many different opportunities for children to learn about social studies, including both history and geography.
For History, the McManus Galleries offer many different sections on the history of Dundee, some examples including the evolution of games, Dundee during wars and evolution of clothes. For Geography, McManus Galleries offer opportunities for children to learn about what Dundee used to be like and how it has grown in size over many years.
It is important for teachers to have a pre-visit to the place of their field trip before they take their class. This is because it allows the teacher to identify any learning opportunities available for the children and if there are any risks that they need to be cautious of when there with the children.
Therefore, overall, when planning fieldwork for social studies, I think it is important to consider where is going to be the most beneficial place for the children to learn and to always have a pre-visit before the fieldwork to ensure there are learning opportunities and no risks for the children.
Catling, J. and Willy, T. (2009) Teaching Primary Geography. Exeter: Learning Matters.
Scoffham, S. (2013) Teaching Geography Creatively. Oxon:Routledge.