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Step-By-Step Instructions

This is the San Diego Mission de Alcalá as an example

Here are all the tools you need to create the San Diego Mission Basilica de Alcala, California‘s First Mission. All you really need is glue & scissors. I prefer hot glue, but this can be hazardous around smaller children. If this is the case, I recommend ordinary white glue.

Here are all the tools you need to create the San Diego Mission Basilica de

I also use a straight edge and a dry pen for scoring the fold lines. I highly recommend scoring the fold lines.

Step 1. Cut out all of the parts. Cut along the perimeter black lines.

Step 2. Score along all of the dashed fold lines on all pieces.

Step 3. Locate the front & rear bell tower pieces. Score and fold over the rear bell tower tabs.

Step 4. Fold the tabs over, align and glue in place. Start at one side and work your way around.

Step 5. Locate the mission front wall spacer, identify the middle tab, and glue in place along the middle top edge of the mission front. Work your way left then right, carefully aligning and gluing each tab in place in place.

Step 6. Glue each of the two mission sides in place.

Step 7. Next, glue the two mission end pieces in place.

Step 8. Glue the two mission roof sections in place starting with the main roof section. Glue the rear part of the roof first. This allows you to center the roof over the upper rear wall. Next, glue left side leaving approximately 1/16 of an inch overhang. Make sure the roof glues n with the same amount of overhang from front to back.

Step 8. Glue the right side in place, next. Glue the front tabs to the mission front wall last. Glue the rear shed roof in place starting with the upper rear wall tab.

Step 9. Glue the center tab of the main garden wall in place over the center of the arch on one of the side pieces. Continue right then left, gluing each tab in place aligning the arch piece with the edges of the arch.

Step 10. Complete the main garden wall by gluing both the bottom and the top making sure the top colored piece is glue to the top of the adjoining white tab. The bottom tabs are both white.

Step 11. Construct the front wing walls in the same manner as the main garden wall, by bending the top, bottom, and end tabs over and gluing, making sure the colored tabs remain on top.

Step 12. The garden end wall goes together the same as the walls above. There is one of these.

Step 13. Starting with the rear base tab, glue and align until glue is dry. Continue around mission until all base tabs have been glued.

Step 14. Glue the front wing walls to the front of the mission as shown. Be sure to glue the correct walls to the correct sides.

Step 15. To construct the sign, start by gluing the triangular support bracket to the center of the back aligning the bottom of the bracket to the bottom of the sign. The final step, is to glue the sign in place. This can be glued anywhere you like

Optional: I like to glue the completed model to a piece of heavy cardboard, or foam core as shown.

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The History Of The Mission & Father Junipero

Here are two amazing graphics by Scott Brown Graphics.

One show’s how life actually was in the old California Mission complexes and the other is a great history of Father Junipero and how he founded the 21 California Missions.

California Missions Poster Thumb
Click for larger image (Very large. Will take some time to open)
California Missions Father Junipero Poster
Click for larger image (Very large. Will take some time to open)
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Extra Credit: Building a Mission Teacher Guidelines

Students will be given an option to create a model of the mission that they have researched.  They may earn up to 20 points that will be credited towards their Social Studies grade.  The mission model will be due the same day as the mission report.  When building the mission, please refer to the following guidelines and rubric in order to earn the maximum amount of points.


  1. Make a labeled model of a California mission with the landscape and surrounding area including mission buildings, church, farming area, cemetery, etc.  Use accurate architecture as well as symbols such as crosses and bells.  (Labels must be typed or in cursive.)
  2. The base of your mission must be no larger than 12″ X 18″, so that they may be displayed in the classroom.  (Points will be deducted if the dimensions are not followed.)
  3. The mission may be made out of cardboard, craft sticks, LEGOS, sugar cubes, Styrofoam, clay, wood, mud, mini tiles or anything else your creative mind can think of!
  4. Include a small typed or printed Identification Card with the following information:

a)  Your name and due date
b)  Name of mission
c)  Location
d)  Founder and date founded

**While the students are encouraged to work primarily independently on this project, please have assistance from parents or other adults while working on the project for safety reasons.**

Here are some optional resources available for you to use while constructing your mission:

Nelson, Libby.  California Missions: Projects & Layouts. (Library)

Summary: Gives instructions for building a model of a California mission building.  Also includes a brief history of the missions and their building techniques.

*This book may be borrowed for two days to get ideas then it must be returned for other students to use.  There are multiple copies of this book and will be lent out on a first come, first serve basis.* (FREE IDEAS) (FREE IDEAS & MODELS)

“The day has come… the day your 4th grader comes home and says they want to build a mission for their California project. Writing a paper does not sound like fun to them, they want to make something! Some people make crafts and build things all the time. Others need simple instructions that can be followed step by step. I hope that by sharing our experiences that this page will help and inspire others in their mission building adventure.” COST: $14.97

Amazon offers you e-books for several California fourth grade mission projects.   

(And they are available for INSTANT DOWNLOAD!)

Just A Few Hours From Now… Your Child Will Be Finished With A Beautiful, Historically Accurate Report or Mission Model For Only $5 In Materials!”

Building A Structure: Mission Project

Student Name:     ________________________________________

Date: ____________________________________


6 points

4 points

2 points

No Credit

Construction -Materials

Appropriate materials were selected and creatively used to improve overall architectural and landscape display. A mission kit was not used.

Appropriate materials were selected and there was an attempt at creative use to improve overall architectural and landscape display. A mission kit was not used.

Appropriate materials were selected, but not accurately used to improve overall display. A mission kit was not used.

Inappropriate materials were selected and contributed poorly to display or a mission kit was used.

Construction- Accuracy

Great care taken in construction process so that the structure is neat, attractive and follows plans accurately.

Construction was careful and accurate for the most part, but 1-2 details could have been refined for a more attractive product.

Construction accurately followed the plans, but 3-4 details could have been refined for a more attractive product.

Construction appears careless or haphazard. Many details need refinement for a strong or attractive product.


All areas of the mission are accurately labeled using appropriate vocabulary terms. (Refer to last page in instructions packet.).

Most areas of the mission are accurately labeled and use appropriate vocabulary terms.

Areas of the mission are either incorrectly labeled or not labeled at all.

Size Requirements

Size requirements were adhered to.

Size requirements were not adhered to.


Identification card visible on mission with student name, due date, name of mission, location as well as the founder and date founded

No or not clearly visible identification card on mission or missing some of the required information.

Subtotals: _________

Total:  _________

Possible: 20 points

Grade:  ________

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History Of The California Missions

History Of The California Missions

The Spanish California Missions are a series of twenty-one religious settlements founded in Spanish/Alta California between 1769 and 1823. Originally governed by Father Junipero Serra (1713-1784), the missions were the first European attempts to colonize the Pacific Coast of the New World, and evangelize the Roman Catholic faith among the Native Americans of the region. Continue reading History Of The California Missions

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How To Build Your Mission

Here is a great tutorial that I found at, author unknown, to help you build your California mission project!

4th Grade Mission Project in California History

We’re all facing the great California Mission project this year. Those of you who have children in the 4th grade in CA know what I’m talking about. I made one in my 4th grade year, and now it’s turn for my daughter to make one of her own.

Continue reading How To Build Your Mission