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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.

Missions are Elaborate

Back in my day, we glued toothpicks together to create our work of art. Today, things seem a bit more elaborate. Parents do more to help their children create. This page should guide you if you’re finding yourself overwhelmed.

So How do I start this project?

Read About the Missions
Read About the Missions
Read About the Missions

Details of the 21 California Missions

Learn where all 21 California Mission were located, and read about them. Each mission has it’s own history and architectural beauty.

View all of the original 21 Missions

As they looked in the late 1800s on this site.

You can also find information at the California Mission Studies Association

Go To

Purchase a Model from Paper Models Online

Take the Easier Way Out with Paper Models

Making Models is not easy, but provides an easier way to complete the 4th grade mission requirement.

They can be purchased for immediate download for you to print or you can purchase a printed kit to be mailed to you.

You can also purchase accessories like animals and props to set around your mission. Paper Models makes that project that seems nearly impossible into a project you know you can accomplish.

Material Ideas

What do we use?

Some Materials Ideas:

Cardboard (Thick and thin varieties)

Poster Board

Sculpey clay

Corrugated paper (small roll)

Paper Mache

Small twigs

Toothpicks (flat)

Popsicle sticks

Construction paper

Styrofoam packing sheets

Green Lichen for grass (found in model railroad section)


Plastic animals / People

Some Tools You May Need:




Razor cutter (Adult Supervision Recommended)

Thick tacky craft glue



Light blue fabric paint (dries shiny) for water

Acrylic Paints

Laying Out the Foundation

Organize the Space on Your Base

Map out your building plans on your base (cardboard, wood, or another type of base to build your Mission).

Draw where the Mission will stand, the area for the garden, cemetery, and any other buildings you want to include. Draw out the guidelines for the grass and walkways.

Building the Mission

Create your pattern and trace them on cardboard or use the material of your choice. Cut the wall pieces and construct them into position.

You could also purchase a kit from a store like or purchase a book with design instructions and patterns like California Missions Projects and Layouts

Videos for Help and Inspiration

Paint out Grass and Walkways
Paint out Grass and Walkways


Paint or apply your ground cover or grass. Paint your walkways.

Sponges work Great to Paint Grass

Use a sponge to add different shades of green to give the grass a textured appearance. You can also use grass like products available at hobby stores or online.

Put up your walls and paint!
Put up your walls and paint!


Glue the bottom edges of the building with tacky glue to the base and between each wall where they meet. Once all sides are up, let dry completely.

Create and add the details to the building with cardboard or another material of your choice. Paint the entire wall in acrylic paint.

Construct the Roof
Construct the Roof


Corrugated Paper is a Great Roof Material

Fold the corrugated paper roofs to make the peaks, tape the quadrangle pieces and the bell tower pieces together on the smooth (hidden) side, and then paint adobe red, and set them aside to dry. Once dry, tape/glue them in place.

Decorative Finishes

Windows and Doors

Simply cut shapes from brown construction paper and glue into place. You could also print glass windows and glue them to a piece of cardboard before attaching it to the building.


Wooden kitchen matches can be used to construct crosses. To make them stand upright, little bases of stryofoam were cut, although Scupley bases could also be made. If you are going to use Sculpey, insert the upright stick into the Sculpey and bake before gluing on the crosspiece.

The crosses for the top of the bell tower, church roof, and cemetery entrance are made with flat wooden toothpicks, and were left long at the base. After poking a small hole through the corrugated paper roof, they were stuck into the foam walls with a touch of glue.


Make a small ring of beige Sculpey. Glue into place, let it dry, then put some shiny light blue paint inside. The well does not exist on the current grounds, this one is based on one we saw a photo of from another mission. Use your imagination.

Grinding Stone

Just a small flattened ball of brown Sculpey.


Glue tiny bits of the lichen wherever you imagine plants might be.


Mission Take a small length of twig (remember the size of your buildings when picking twigs) and roll a small ball of green Sculpey. Put the ball on the table, then push the stick into it. Use your fingers to further push the Sculpey against the table and branch, creating a small flat base. Create however many sticks in Sculpey as you want trees. Bake according to the Sculpey directions. (about 15 mins at low heat). The wood should not burn. Then once it is cooled, you can wrap some larger pieces of lichen around the twig. Once you have found the right piece or pieces, put a liberal amount of thick tacky glue on the upper half of the twig, and wrap the lichen around it. You should get a wonderful assortment of trees of different shapes, some taller, some shorter, some wide, and some thin.


Add pebbles around the trees and garden where you think rocks might be. Glue them to the base

People and Animals

Glue small people and animals that might have been at the mission around the property.


If you’re handy with a graphics software, you can copy and paste the image below, fill the sheet, and print multiple sheets of the blue water.  Then crumple up the sheets as tight as you can squeeze them, then un-crumple them and smooth them out on the table.  Then…  Pasted them to the base.  It looks like water with small waves.

You can also use hot glue to make small ponds, rivers, waterfalls, and fountains.  Just paint the base blue first, then cover it with hot glue.


You can you purchase some foam board.  It’s white and has paper on both sides with foam in the middle.  You can make a base out of it that makes it more sturdy.

California Mission Projects Made Easy – San Francisco de Asis

This author has several different versions of Mission Projects to download easily at Amazon.

The native people lived in northern California for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived to build Mission San Francisco de Asis. They had stone and bone tools. They hunted and gathered food. Some of them moved when the seasons changed. Others lived in one place.

These are some of the things we know about them: About 160 people lived in the area that is now San Francisco. They lived in three small groups. Tubsinte, Sitlintac, and Petlenuc were their winter villages. Chutchui and Amuctac were summer and fall camping sites.

The Indians houses looked like rounded cones. They built them from bent willow twigs woven with reeds and thatching. People entered through a single, low door. The houses were only about 6 to 8 feet across.

Family Experiences

Here are some articles that I’ve found for you to read through.