It isn’t enough to just read about what happened in the 1600s for students who ensure that history comes alive with replicas of the actual settings and events.

That’s what an eighth grade social studies class did at West Chatham Middle School.  They didnt just read about the Spanish missions and forts that were present on the Georgia coast hundreds of years ago.  They build replicas of the settlements after doing some research about the local area and Spanish settlements across North America.

History Comes Alive

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A model of the California Mission San Jose was built by Joselin Aragon Pliego.  It depicted the lives of Native Americans, forced to live there, convert to Catholic ism, and practice farming.

Included in the detailed model was a horse pen and a teepee on the mission grounds.  A removable cardboard roof adorned the church building, which when opened revealed pews and working lights.

“I made the teepee out of the corn husk from a tamale,” she said.

Her classmates were equally creative. They used everything from a Styrofoam drink cooler to tongue depressors.

Andrea Fuentes Carmona made a likeness of the San Francisco Solano mission using cardboard from a diaper box. Her courtyard fountain was made from a condiment to-go cup.

“This was the 21st mission in California — the last one they built there,” she said.

History Comes Alive

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Teacher Jacquelin Harden said her classes were studying Spain’s ill-fated effort to claim Georgia’s coastal communities by assimilating native people at Catholic missions. The missions operated along Georgia’s coast from the 1560s through the 1680s.

To help students understand why Spain’s mission system failed in Georgia and throughout North America, Harden asked her students to write a detailed report on a Spanish mission anywhere in the U.S. and build a model that depicted the way people lived and worked there.

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