Problem: There is a lot of information available on the California Missions, but most of it is too detailed, too difficult, or too broad for 4th graders. I needed an overview of the mission system that was engaging for kids and worked as a companion for individual Mission projects I would assign later. I also wanted a comprehensive unit that could work for a shorter time period and included all necessary background information, a writing assignment based on the text, and a visual arts component that we could display in our classroom.
Solution: Jody and I wrote our own text which explained why the missions were built, how they were constructed, their physical and political purpose, how they worked as a community, their impact on the California Indian population and their demise. We added a writing activity in the form of a newspaper page, and finished it off with a really cool art activity. The complete package!
Results: Because the text is so visually enticing, I used my Promethean Board to project the PowerPoint slides. We read the text in chunks, as a whole group, discussing as we went. The students loved the bright colors and accompanying photos and artwork. The foil stained glass mission art project is a favorite every year. I’ve even added a simplified version for the non-artists who still want to do the project but lack confidence in their drawing skills.
We complete the art project with a Mission Times newspaper that connects with the text. Glue it on the back of the art and you have a project that looks great in windows from both sides!
Also included is the plain text ink friendly version for close reading.
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