For many people growing up in California, their first exposure to the mission era takes place during their 4th grade year in elementary school (not me, I was living in the Pacific Northwest during 4th grade!). As part of the state-mandated curriculum, all students in 4th grade are required to learn about people and their surroundings during the period prior to California statehood.
If you are a parent helping your 4th grader with his or her classwork, a teacher preparing your 4th grade history curriculum, or a student looking up information for class, this website can be a great resource for you. For easy searching, each post is tagged or categorized according to one or more of the topics that California 4th graders are expected to learn about, Of course, we are continually adding new information, so make sure to check in regularly or sign up for email updates.
Below is a list of the current standards (as of June, 2015):
4.2 Students describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods.
- Discuss the major nations of California Indians, including their geographic distribution, economic activities, legends, and religious beliefs; and describe how they depended on, adapted to, and modified the physical environment by cultivation of land and use of sea resources.
- Identify the early land and sea routes to, and European settlements in, California with a focus on the exploration of the North Pacific (e.g., by Captain James Cook, Vitus Bering, Juan Cabrillo), noting especially the importance of mountains, deserts, ocean currents, and wind patterns.
- Describe the Spanish exploration and colonization of California, including the relationships among soldiers, missionaries, and Indians (e.g., Juan Crespi, Junipero Serra, Gaspar de Portola).
- Describe the mapping of, geographic basis of, and economic factors in the placement and function of the Spanish missions; and understand how the mission system expanded the influence of Spain and Catholicism throughout New Spain and Latin America.
- Describe the daily lives of the people, native and nonnative, who occupied the presidios, missions, ranchos, and pueblos.
- Discuss the role of the Franciscans in changing the economy of California from a huntergatherer economy to an agricultural economy.
- Describe the effects of the Mexican War for Independence on Alta California, including its effects on the territorial boundaries of North America.
- Discuss the period of Mexican rule in California and its attributes, including land grants, secularization of the missions, and the rise of the rancho economy