U 3rd Age: Learning Journey to St. John’s Island

Home » U 3rd Age: Learning Journey to St. John’s Island

Date: 25 May 2019 
Time: 8.00 am – 2.30 pm 
Address: St. John’s Island (Ferry from Marina South Pier) 

Hours: 6.5 hrs


This learning journey adopted a multi-pronged approach, both cultural and environmental. The first objective is to foster the sharing of knowledge and experiences between the seniors and youth. The second objective is to educate the participants on the marine heritage of Singapore. Participants were divided into different teams and had to complete 3 main activities together: 

  1. The Gift of the Present: Treasure Hunt
  2. Past but not Bygone: Listen and Mime
  3. Hopes for the Future: Jigsaw Puzzle

Gathering at the Ferry Terminal

The meeting time for all participants and volunteers at Marina South Pier Ferry Terminal was 8.00 am. There were about 50 participants joining the event that day. Carol assigned me as one of the volunteer leaders to assist her to facilitate the learning journey. After a short briefing and making sure everyone brought water bottles and snacks (as there are no food or water sold on the island), we started to board the ferry to head to St. John’s Island. 

Preparing for boarding
Volunteers leaders with Carol
Boarding the ferry

Starting our Learning Journey

The ferry ride was about 30 minutes. When we arrived on the island, Yen Ling, our guide for the day, introduced to us about St. John’s Island. Yen Ling works full-time as a researcher on the island, so she is undoubtedly the expert in this aspect. Soon, we separated into groups of 8-10. I had 8 group members (mixture of youths and seniors) and we decided to name ourselves the “Young and Dangerous”. 

Arriving on the island
Yen Ling giving her introduction and the instructions for Activity 1
My group "Young and Dangerous"

Activity 1: Treasure Hunt

The 1st activity on the island was the Treasure Hunt. Each team was given 10 questions to solve and 6 tasks to complete within 40 minutes. The questions and tasks were designed to educate the participants on the history and marine life of St. John’s Island. 


  1. To have the participants warm up to each other
  2. To have the participants engage with their surroundings and focus outwardly (paying attention to what’s happening around you)

Learning Objectives: 

  1. To learn about the rich biodiversity found on the coasts and in the islands around Singapore
  2. To appreciate use of the islands by human activities

Sample Questions: 

  1. Name two of the three islands that are now connected to St John’s Island. 
  2. Encik Sulih was the last resident on St John’s Island. When did he move out?
  3. How many wooden rest huts are there next to the lagoon?
  4. Seagrasses can produce more than _______ tonnes of leaves per hectare annually. It is an important habitat for _____ and _______ as it helps to provide ___________. However, ___ % of the seagrass meadows in Singapore is lost since the 1960s. (Hint: check out the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre)
  5. Assign numbers ‘1’ to ‘3’ to the following habitats in ascending order of capacity to store carbon per hectare. Use ‘1’ for smallest capacity and 3 for largest capacity. (Hint: check out the Marine Park Outreach and Education Centre) Primary forest ____ Secondary forest ____ Mangrove ____

Sample Tasks: 

  1. Find three fallen leaves, each from a different plant. Trace out their shapes. No trees should be harmed for this task.
  2. Use the bag included in the envelope to collect as much litter as you can. Leaf litter is not counted.
  3. Have all team members pet one of the cats on St John’s Island. Please record it on video.
  4. Take a photo of a cluster of marine snails. (Hint: you can find them in the lagoon.) 6. Locate the place in the photo.
  5. There are 10 heritage trees on St John’s Island. Find one and strike a yoga pose with it!
Treasure Hunt activity sheets
Starting the Treasure Hunt
The kids looking for the cluster of marine snails in the lagoon
Doing the yoga pose with a heritage tree
Picking up trash
Tracing out the shape of leaves found on the island
Traced drawings of leaves
The kids found a huge dried grasshopper
Debrief after Treasure Hunt

Activity 2: Listen and Mime

In the 2nd part of the event, we did a short warm up exercise and a storytelling game. 


  1. Allow every single participant to be heard
  2. Practise tuning in to others and empathise

Learning Objectives: 

  1. To learn about the diverse cultural heritage from all walks of life
  2. To learn about different lifestyles and how people interact with the beach/coast/sea.
  3. To reflect on our own impact on the marine environment

Warm Up Games

We formed chains of 8-10 participants for the “Pass the Message” relay game. All group leaders will give a short phrase to the 1st person in the chain. This message was acted out by the 1st person to the 2nd person. The 2nd person had to repeat the action to the 3rd person and so on and forth. The last person in the chain would have to guess what the message was.

After that, we formed pairs and we took turns to share our favourite hobbies with each other using body language. We were asked to mime our favourite hobby in a happy mood. Then we had to repeat it but with a sad emotion, and then angrily and so on. 

Passing the message
Dexter miming the mesage
Everyone's being animated!

Storytelling Game

After the warm up, each group formed a circle for the storytelling game. There were 4 different roles: Storyteller, Investigator, Mime, and Timekeeper.  At one time, there would be 1 Storyteller, 3 Mimes, 1 Timekeeper, and the rest were Investigators. The Storyteller would take a prompt from the question bag, and will have to share real-life experiences based on the question. Investigators would have to probe details from the storyteller. The TImekeeper had to keep the entire “investigation” within 5 minutes. At the end, the Mimes would have cooperate and act out the story that was shared. The roles were rotated after each story and everyone were given a chance to be a Storyteller.

The different roles in the game
My group during the game
Everyone took turns to tell our stories

Activity 3: Jigsaw Puzzle

For the final part, every participant were given a piece of the puzzle and we were tasked to complete the puzzle together as a team. 


  1. To allow the participants actively synthesise their new found knowledge, prior knowledge, and any realised emotions into statements-inprogress, which they could use as springboard for future actions or guideline for decisions
  2. For participants to have a take home message that they have decided upon themselves
  3. To provide a meaningful physical memorabilia that participants can keep from the event

Learning Objectives: 

  1. To appreciate the importance of individual contributions to the collective good
  2. To understand different perspectives regarding a common topic
Fixing the jigsaw puzzle together
The complete puzzle

Final Thoughts

This learning journey was really fun and it was also my 1st time visiting St. John’s Island. It had a blast learning about the rich biodiversity we have here in Singapore. But, what interested me was getting to hear the personal stories from my peers and the seniors. Performing these activities alongside each other showed that although all of us are different, we are all similar as well. We should not judge anyone based on their background, age, education etc. If we give each other a chance, perhaps we can break down barriers more easily.