Press Releases

49,000 Pre-Schoolers to Give Back to the Community in 2019 with Bicentennial Edition of Start Small Dream Big

30 Jan 2020

Children will learn about Singapore’s heritage and dream of their future

1 The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) launches the fifth edition of its President’s Challenge initiative, ‘Start Small Dream Big’, with 820 preschool centres joining the movement this year. A record number of 49,000 children, aged 4 to 6, will be participating in a variety of community projects over the next six months. This is six times more than the number of pre-schoolers who took part in the initiative when it was first launched in 2015.

2 In support of the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration, this year’s ‘Start Small Dream Big’ is themed “Learn from our Past, Dream of our Future”. Children are encouraged to learn about Singapore’s heritage, and to dream and aspire towards the Singapore they want to contribute to. ‘Start Small Dream Big’ inspires our preschoolers to do their part in building a kind, compassionate and inclusive society, by respecting others and through little acts of kindness.

Appreciating our Heritage

3 Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee, launched ‘Start Small Dream Big’ 2019 today at the Bayfront Pavilion during the Eco Kampung Carnival. The event was organised by Preschool Market, a social enterprise, in collaboration with Gardens by the Bay. This 2-day Carnival will bring 1,000 preschoolers together as they embark on their ‘Start Small Dream Big’ project, “Appreciating Our Heritage in Nature”. Through this project, children will learn about the diverse heritage and cultures of Singapore through nature by visiting the gardens. They will then participate in a variety of community projects such as creating crafts using materials from nature and recycled items for giving to families, friends and those in the community.

4 Preschool Market and Gardens by the Bay have also partnered with Little Footprints Preschool (a Partner Operator appointed by ECDA) to develop an educator’s guide for this project. Teachers can use this resource as they bring their pre-schoolers on learning trails to the Heritage Gardens within Gardens by the Bay. The activities curated in the guide will provide children with opportunities to explore our diverse cultures, traditions, games, food and celebrations, alongside learning about different types of heritage plants in Singapore. The first 300 preschools taking part in this project will receive this guide book in hard copy. An e-version will also be available from 1 May for all educators at

5 Preschools participating in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ have been celebrating the launch of their projects at their respective centres throughout the month of April. The early childhood community can view and share their children’s projects here: Parents are encouraged to show support for their children’s community efforts by participating in their project activities. Stories from all participating preschools on their ’Start Small Dream Big’ events and activities can also be found at​.


1. What is ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement was initiated by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in 2015 to encourage pre-schools to create platforms for children to give back to the community. It was first launched as part of SG50 and the 15th anniversary of President’s Challenge, as an annual series of fund-raising and volunteer activities. Participating centres design and implement community service projects for children over a period of six months.


2. What are the objectives of ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

We aspire to nurture each child holistically, including character building, so that they can succeed individually in life and also become responsible citizens who care about those around them. Through ‘Start Small Dream Big’, young children are encouraged to use their own resources and creativity to give back to society, and in the process, instil the spirit of giving and good values such as care for others, humility, kindness and compassion.

3. How many children have participated and how much has been raised for ‘Start Small Dream Big’ over the years?
(Figures released in previous media releases.)


4. What is the age range of children who participate in ‘Start Small Dream Big’ and what is expected of the children?

The children are mainly from the K1 and K2 levels (i.e. 5-6 years old). The pre-schools are encouraged to involve and guide the children in developing, planning and implementing the community projects. Under the guidance of teachers, the children play an active role in deciding who they want to help and what they want to do. Parents are strongly encouraged to be involved in supporting their child’s community projects.

5. What are some of the community projects that centres will be carrying out for ‘Start Small Dream Big’ this year?

Some examples of community projects that centres carry out are food donation drives or fund-raising for charity organisations, children’s welfare homes and elderly homes; befriending people with disabilities and special needs; caring for the environment through gardening, recycling efforts and water conservation; promoting a healthy lifestyle to families and residents in the neighbourhood; and caring for animals and their welfare, including endangered wildlife and rescued pets.

This year, in support of the Singapore Bicentennial, centres will also take on projects that focus on appreciating our history and heritage through nature, marine life, and cultural diversity, while giving back to the community. For example, some children who learn about heritage through nature or marine life would create related art and crafts for a fund-raising event, with proceeds going to a chosen beneficiary.

6. What kind of support does ECDA provide to the participating centres?

ECDA provides a resource package to all participating centres. The resource package includes bucket hats, pledge cards, stickers, hanging mobiles, Educator’s Guides, reflection journals, posters, and customised centre banners. ECDA also links pre-schools to community partners and creates opportunities for centres to share best practices.

7. How was ‘Start Small Dream Big’ launched this year?

Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee, launched ‘Start Small Dream Big’ 2019 on 26 April 2019, Friday, at the Bayfront Pavilion during the Eco Kampung Carnival, organised by Preschool Market in collaboration with Gardens by the Bay.

ECDA is also hosting a ‘Start Small Dream Big’ 2019 Virtual Launch via a Facebook Event Page at throughout April. Participating centres are encouraged to carry out their own project launches at their own premises, and share photos or videos of their celebrations through the Facebook Event Page. Centres can encourage parents to actively participate in the launch event, either physically at their centre, and/or virtually online. Highlights of this year’s Virtual Launch include the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ 2019 video, featuring children from Little Footprints Preschool and our partners Preschool Market and Gardens by the Bay; livestreams of project launch parties at participating centres by our partner LittleLives; and photos, videos and stories shared by teachers and parents, with the hashtag, #SSDB2019.

8. Where will the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ projects be showcased?

Pre-schools will document their projects on the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ portal:​. There will be an exhibition to showcase centres’ projects with community partners at the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ Finale, to be held in September 2019, in conjunction with ECDA’s Early Childhood Conference.

9. Which community and government agencies are ECDA partnering with in 2019 for ‘Start Small Dream Big’?

ECDA works with many agencies to support preschools in their community projects. Some of the organisations on board include SG Cares, Singapore Kindness Movement, National Parks Board, Singapore Art Museum, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Public Utilities Board. Other organisations such as Resorts World Sentosa, Preschool Market, Gardens by the Bay, and Singapore Red Cross also support ‘‘Start Small Dream Big’.

10. How will the new resource material be made available to all preschools?

The “Appreciating Our Heritage in Nature” Educator’s Guide will be available online from 1 May 2019 at for all preschools to download.