Ideas for a Child's Project on the San Juan Bautista Mission

By Susan Rickey
San Juan Bautista projects promote learning about geography, economy, religion and arts of California's early days.

Learning about the San Juan Bautista Mission, established in the 1700s, helps children understand the rich influences that shaped California. San Juan Bautista was the 15th mission established southeast of San Francisco. Help children learn more about this mission by making models of the mission and studying its history with engaging projects.

Make a Model

Learn about the size and placement of the buildings and the types of building materials used by making a model of San Juan Bautista. The mission can be made out of cardboard, clay, craft sticks or any other craft or household item he wants to use to replicate the mission. Have a hot glue gun ready -- used with supervision -- and provide a base to build the mission on. A piece of plywood or cardboard will work for the base. Help him figure out the placement of the buildings by drawing their shapes on the base. When the buildings are up and placed, gather some paint for the final touches.

Mosaic

Make a mosaic of the mission out of pasta, beans and seeds. Provide a flat piece of cardboard or a piece of wood to glue the mosaic onto. Have your child trace the mission onto the wood. Help her decide what colors to use by looking at the picture. Once the colors have been decided, raid the pantry for the mosaic materials -- brown lentils, white pumpkin seeds, green peas, yellow popcorn, black poppy seeds. Coat the area with glue and fill in with the beans, seeds or pasta. Once completed, cover the mosaic with an acrylic finish to help the materials set.

The Missions Were Farms

The land around the mission is still used today as farmland. The mission had 6,000 sheep and 6,000 cows, along with almost 300 horses and 13 mules. Use rice to represent each of these types of animals. Make a plastic bag labeled with each of the types of animals. Count out 13 grains of rice and place it in the mule bag. Counting out the 6,000 sheep and cows will take too long and too much concentration. Figure out an easier way to find the 6,000 grains of rice without counting it out. Have your child count how many grains are in 1 teaspoon. Then find how many teaspoons are in a half cup. She will discover there are about 6,000 grains of rice in 1/2 cup, which can represent the sheep and cows. The 300 grains of rice to denote horses can be counted out, or it is about 1 1/2 teaspoons of rice. This project lets you see the importance placed on the animals that were part of the diet of the mission dwellers.

Media Display

Let your child make a slide show presentation about the mission. Include pictures found on the Internet and his own voice reading the facts. Research the location, timeline of the mission, the use of the mission, founder and any other facts he is interested in.

About the Author

Susan Rickey started writing in 1994 with a technology feature article for the "Pioneer Press." She was the writer of the Klamath Forest Alliance newsletter, an environmental organization. Rickey obtained her teaching credential from California State University and acquired her Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas.