California Missions Project Tutorial

Step by step tutorial to make California Missions project using printable kit

Studying the history of the Mission system in California is practically a right of passage for elementary school students in the state. For help making a poster that stands out, follow along out step by step tutorial for decorating a California Missions Poster project.

Get the Kit: For this tutorial we will be using our printable California Missions Project Kit which can be purchased in out online store. You can download it and get started immediately. 

Finished California Missions project poster board made from kit

Pieces in our California Missions Kit:

  1. Title
  2. Subtitle
  3. Alphabet "Stickers"
  4. Writing Template (lined, unlined)
  5. Half Page Writing Template
  6. Caption Card
  7. Borders
  8. Photo Frame
  9. Photo Corners
  10. Icons

California Missions stickers and templates to use in tutorial

Supplies to Gather:

  1. Printed Kit
  2. Assignment (from your school)
  3. Rough Draft
  4. Photos, Charts, or Other Images
  5. Poster Board (any size)
  6. Scissors
  7. Glue Stick
  8. Pencil or Pen
  9. Sticky Notes (or scratch paper)


1) Print

  • Download your kit files & print on regular printer paper. Print at home, work, or a copy shop.
  • Estimate the number of writing templates your project requires. If you plan to hand write your report, print the lined templates. If you plan to type, print the blank unlined templates (in a later step we’ll run them through the printer a second time to add the words).

California Mission kit page coming out of a printer, all pages shown on table

2) Cut
  • Cut out just 1-3 of type of each type of piece from the kit. You probably won’t need every piece, so it saves time to cut just a few to work with.
  • As you go, cut more pieces only as needed.

Pieces in kit being cut out on a table

3) Borders

Add adobe brick borders to the edges of your board to give it a California Missions theme.

  • Align the borders with edge of your board, and glue.
  • Borders are the only pieces you should glue to your board before the last step, since you know for sure where they go. (If you want to put them somewhere else besides the edge of your board, wait to glue just in case)
  • Tip - It is easiest to just overlap the borders at the corners of your board, and wrap the extra around the back.

Adobe brick borders being added to a California Missions poster

4) Pile

What part of California Mission History is your project about? Are you studying a specific Mission, or are you focusing on a topic like daily life in the Missions, or the impact Native American people? You will want to divide your board into sections that make sense for the topic of your report.

  • Divide up your rough draft and image pieces into piles by the sections you want to have on your board.
  • Label with each pile with a sticky note. It can help to cut up your rough draft.
  • Don’t worry about the kit pieces yet. Just work with your report content for this step.
  • Double check your assignment, do you have everything that was required?

California Mission report poster work in progress

5) Pair

Now you can start to pair the content of your report with the decorative California Missions themed pieces from the kit.

  • Sticky Notes
    • Pair each sticky note with a title or subtitle.
    • Don’t forget your main project title and your name.
  • Rough Draft
    • pair with depending on the amount of space needed for writing. 
    • writing templates, 
    • half page writing templates
    • caption cards
  • Images
    • pair rectangular images with photo frames (its easiest to just put your image it on top of the "frame", don't bother cutting out the middle). 
    • If an image is an odd shape, don’t worry. We will decorate these later with photo corners.

Work in progress on a California Missions project using pieces from printable kit

6) Plan

Now we can plan out where to put things on your board.

  • Start laying out your pieces on your board to get an idea of how you want to arrange your pieces.
  • Don’t worry if there is a lot of empty space - we have tricks to fill that up later.
  • Tip - It looks best to arrange the largest pieces near the bottom of the board.

tutorial showing how to lay out California Missions poster pieces

7) Title

Use the alphabet to make a title for each of your sticky notes.

  • Pre-Written Titles
    • The kit alphabet includes some California Missions key terms to help you make titles faster (such as History, Daily Life, California, Mission, Religion, Franciscan).
    • Use these alone or combine with letters to make custom titles.
  • Custom Titles
    • You can use the alphabet letters to make any custom headers you need for your report. For example, you may want to make custom titles for the name of a specific Mission like "Mission San Juan Capistrano".
    • Cut letters from the alphabet. It's easiest to cut out only the ones you need so the rest stay organized.
    • Arrange the letters on the title card.
    • Pick each letter up, one by one, and glue it to the title.
    • making custom titles for Califonia Missions poster

      8) Hand Write

      • If you are handwriting your report, just copy your rough draft onto the writing templates, half pages and caption cards.
      • Tip - To type skip to next step. (Half pages and captions can’t be typed)

      writing templates for handwriting California Missions projects

      9) or Type

      Follow these steps to type your report:

      • Take one of the blank writing templates that you printed in step 1. Use a ruler to measure from edge of the paper into the inside of the colored border (this distance will vary a little depending on each customer's printer settings).
      • Set the margins of your word processor inside the borders measured. 
      • Print a test page of your type on regular paper. Stack the test type sheet on top of the blank border template. Hold up both sheets to a window or light source. You will be able to see if the words are lining up inside the borders.
      • Mind the way your printer feeds, all printers are different and some flip the paper over or output prints upside down. To test how your printer feeds paper, mark an X at the top edge of a piece of paper and print a test page from your report. Note where the X ends up on your sheet.
      • When you are ready, load the writing templates with the borders you printed in step 1 into your printer, and print to add your text.

      California Missions report template coming out of printer

      10) Photo Corners

      • Oddly sized images or diagrams that don’t fit well on the photo frames can be embellished with photo corners instead.
      • Just place one photo corner on top of each of the corners of the image. This is an easy way to make images look nice and finished.

      How to use photo corners on a California Missions project

      11) Icons

      Use the California Mission themed clip art "stickers" from the kit to fill any empty spaces an make your report look colorful and interesting. There is also a map showing where each of the Spanish Missions of California are located along the coast.

      • Use the icons to fill in any spaces that look too empty.
      • Icons can also be used to emphasize a topic, for example you can put the Franciscan Monk and wooden cross in a section about religion, or place the mission bell in a section about architecture.

      Printable clip art to decorating a California Missions poster

      12) GLUE!

      • Make sure you have all the pieces arranged the way you like them. 
      • If you can, take a picture before you start to glue, just in case things get moved around.
      • Pick up each piece one at a time (so you don’t forget where it goes) and use a glue stick to glue it to your board.
      • Yahoo! You are done. Go turn that project in with pride.

      last steps in California Missions tutorial.

      If you post your project on social media, tag us and we'll feature you on our feed ;)