Spanish Missions in Texas Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn about the role of Spanish missions in the history of Texas. They will expand on this by writing short skits examining life on the mission.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify major characteristics of the Spanish colonial period of Texan history
  • Discuss the role of missions and presidios in the development of colonial Texas
  • Describe life on a Spanish mission for various members of Texan colonial society


90-120 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.


Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.



  • Start class with a brief discussion on Texas.
    • What do you know about Texas? What do you know about Texas' history? Who were the first Europeans to live in Texas? How has this impacted Texas today?
  • Break students into small groups. Distribute copies of the text lesson The Spanish Colonial Era in Texas (1776-1821).
  • Students will read through this lesson quietly in their groups. Pause after the section ''The Spanish Colonial Era in Texas''. Discuss:
    • What empire did Texas originally belong to? What is a mission church? What is a presidio? How do you think this defined the development of Texas?
  • Once students have talked in their groups, talk about this information as a class.
    • How do you imagine life changed for Amerindian peoples when the missions and presidios were introduced? How was mission life different than the lives they had before?
    • How did the Church impact the colonial period of Texan history?
    • What do you think drew Spanish settlers to Texas? What were they hoping to find or achieve?
  • Ask students to continue reading the lesson, and complete the remaining sections. Have them discuss this information in their groups.
    • When did the United States first start interacting with Texas? What were these interactions like?
    • How did Texas fit into Mexico's development and independence?
  • Discuss this information as a class.
    • How do you think the US' early experiences with Texas influenced their later history? Why did the USA want to gain control of Texas?
  • You may test student understanding with the quiz.

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