The California 4th Grade Mission Project is an assignment in which fourth grade students in California schools learn about the state's California missions.
The Study of the Early California Missions is part of California's 4th Grade Curriculum. The study involves a visit to a California Mission, the writing of a paper, and the creation of a model of the student's Mission of choice.
The California State Board of Education has identified the following as the standard content for this project:
- Describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods.
- Discuss the major nations of California Native Americans, including their geographic distribution, economic activities, legends, and religious beliefs; and describe how they depended on, adapted to, and modified the physical environment by cultivation of land and use of sea resources.
- Identify the early land and sea routes to, and European settlements in, California with a focus on the exploration of the North Pacific (e.g., by James Cook, Vitus Bering, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo), noting especially the importance of mountains, deserts, ocean currents, and wind patterns.
- Describe the Spanish exploration and colonization of California, including the relationships among soldiers, missionaries, and Indians (e.g., Juan Crespí, Junípero Serra, Gaspar de Portolà).
- Describe the mapping of, geographic basis of, and economic factors in the placement and function of the Spanish missions; and understand how the mission system expanded the influence of Spain and Catholicism throughout New Spain and Latin America.
- Describe the daily lives of the people, native and nonnative, who occupied the presidios, missions, ranchos, and pueblos.
- Discuss the role of the Franciscans in changing economy of California from a hunter-gatherer economy to an agricultural economy.
- Describe the effects of the Mexican War for Independence on Alta California, including its effects on the territorial boundaries of North America.
- Discuss the period of Mexican rule in California and its attributes, including land grants, secularization of the missions, and the rise of the rancho economy.
This topic is controversial in that it is often taught in a way that shows the missions as cultural centers for the California natives without mentioning that they were used to convert local natives to Catholicism, sometimes coercively. Discussion of revolts where Native Americans attacked missions are generally missing from the Fourth-grade curriculum. If the revolts are discussed, the role of Indians in building and governance of missions is left out. 
This activity is a great way to wrap up your unit of study on the California Gold Rush. This project can be used for classwork, homework, a culmination assessment to your social studies unit, group assignment, or just for a fun social studies activity! This is meant to be a print and go activity, with very little prep on your part required! I have even included a full color sample for you to show your students as model of your expectations on this project. The only thing you will need to do is print the student directions, give each student a 12” x 18” piece of white construction paper (folded into thirds ahead of time) and a copy of the grading rubric (if you wish to grade it). I love incorporating art with other academic areas and this project is a fun way to do so. For those of you doing common core, this project is also a great way to add some computer research into your social studies unit. The common core standards relating to this project are below:
W.4.6 - With some guidance and support from adults, use technology.
W.4.7 - Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
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*If you have already purchased my By the Great Horn Spoon Print and Go Chapter Activities and Comprehension Q's, please do not purchase this product.This project is very similar to an activity already found in that item. If you are interested in viewing it in my TPT store, please click here. Thanks so much!