My son is in 4th grade, the year when all California students have to do the famous “Mission Project.” I had heard horror stories from friends with older children, of parents of 4th graders running crying into the street the weekend before the Mission Project was due because their children had still not started building their California mission model. Terrified to be caught in the same position, I started collecting material about California’s missions a year or so ago, including a book called California Missions Projects and Layouts thinking we’d need it for sure to build a model. We also started taking Theo to missions two years ago to familiarize him with the history and the buildings.
When we returned from winter break, the project was suddenly upon us. Because I knew it would be hard to motivate him to sit down and build something relating to California’s Spanish colonial past, I invited his friend Rodrigo to join him and build their missions together. Taking advantage of some modeling clay that Theo had saved from a trashcan in his art class (that’s my boy!), I suggested they find pictures of the missions they had been assigned and model their missions out of clay. Surprisingly, they took to the art project, squeezing and bending their clay into outer walls and buildings, and then painting the walls and planting miniature corn, trees and flowers in their mission garden. Surprisingly too, I actually managed to let them do most of the work, and today, after 3 sessions together, they completed their missions – and I have to say they look pretty good. And they were finished a week before they were due!
This afternoon, I realized that was so busy giving myself a rare pat on the back for actually doing something right as a parent, that I hadn’t decided today’s giveaway. At 6:30pm, I was in a panic and then saw the California Missions Projects and Layouts book on the dining table. Because we’d gone with the clay models, we hadn’t actually used it, but maybe someone else would. I rushed out to Theo’s school to the Little Free Library again and placed it inside, the front cover very prominently displayed. Perhaps on Monday morning, the book will offer some inspiration and relief to another parent of a 4th grader despairing at the looming Mission Project deadline.