Every year my 4th graders do a project when we study the California Missions. It almost is a right of passage with 4th grade. A few years ago, my partner and I decided to open the choices around the mission project. We were aware some families were on the third or fourth mission project, depending on how many children they had.
We decide to give students a lot more choices for creating a project around California Missions. The point is the student learns about one of the 21 missions that existed in our state. So, we gave students the choice to do many of the following (but not limited to):
- Build a mission
- Create a PowerPoint presentation
- Create a play or puppet show
- Draw or paint a picture
- Create a scrapbook
- Create a video/news report
- Make adobe brick from scratch
- Create a rap or song about the mission
Overall, most students do build a mission. It is still the most popular choice. But I have seen some amazing portraits, plays, and PowerPoints.
This year I had a student who did something very unique and it was great, so I had to share. She was doing her project on Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. This year was the 250 year anniversary of the mission. My student wanted to create a classroom celebration.
First, she told all the students about the mission like when it was founded, by whom, details of how the mission ran, etc. Then she prepared three activities for the students to play.
The first was a game where the students threw ping pong balls at the bell towers of the mission. It was actually based on a historical event where rocks were used to break the bells.
Second students played a concentration game with facts and photos about the mission. And finally, the last activity was “pin the bell on the tower”. My students spend about 20 minutes playing at each station.
The celebration was rapped up with cupcakes. The students in class had so much fun and it was fantastic to see a Mission Presentation that was so interactive.
I love seeing students use their creative ideas!