Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mission Impossible

Around these parts, 4th graders typically study California history for their social studies curriculum. Jenny enlisted me to to take part in Kyle's study by doing a couple of field trips and helping with his mission project.

Kyle is a little sponge who soaks up what he reads, so when he, Candice, and I went to Grinding Rock State Park last fall to see MiWok artifacts, he was well versed regarding how the early native Californians lived.

Next up was the mission project, which I was really sweating. I didn't do all that well with my own kids projects, and not being a particularly handy person, I was not sure at all what to do to get this one started. The night before our first meeting about the mission, I did not sleep well. I was thinking about using building materials like paper mache or sugar cubes or something like that. I'd downloaded pictures and diagrams of Mission San Juan Batistia, the mission Kyle had chosen because he had visited it with his family, but I still didn't know what I was going to do to get us started.

Then Fred Dixion came to my rescue. Cindy told her mom about my worries, and she told Fred who promptly called me on my cell phone. He told me exactly what to get--styrofoam sheets for the structure and strips of discarded lattice for the roof. He recommended getting twigs for trees and some ceramic angels or crosses for decoration. What a relief! Now I knew how to get started.

I took Kyle shopping at Wal Mart for the styrofoam, and then we hit three thrift stores. By then Kyle was getting imaginative and found some great contact paper to use for the tile entry ways, and he found golf tees and green yarn that he thought could be fashioned into trees. We also found some angels for decorations. Then I came up with the idea of using the corrugated inside of a pizza box for the roof. We were set.

On building day, I brought all the stuff to his house along with glue and an Xacto blade. Kyle had a board for us to build the mission on, and he suggested we use a hot glue gun to connect the walls and roof. I'd never used one before, but he was an expert with the gun. In a couple of hours, we had our mission built, and I was pleased as punch. He did way more of the work than I did, and I felt like the whole thing had turned out just as it should. WHEW, I was glad to have that project behind us.

Finally, we went to Columbia State Park. Kyle was decked out to the max in a cowboy costume, so much so that a bus load of fourth grade kids visiting the park thought he was part of the show. Kyle had plans to arrest the robber when we went on the stage coach ride. He even had handcuffs, but sadly the stage wasn't running that day. So he panned for gold. His plan: "If I find a nugget of gold, I'm gong to buy my mom and dad a house and all the Legos I want!"

I'd say that's a pretty admirable goal for a gold miner.

At the Museum, Kyle wowed the docents with his extensive knowledge about the items in the dioramas. The boy knows his California history! So glad to have had the pleasure of accompanying him on this learning journey.

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