Yesterday’s Artists, Today’s Inspirations: Homeschool Art History Class 2, Leonardo da Vinci

Our second art class took place last Friday but I’m just now getting around to blogging about it because, until today (and until steroids, anti-inflammatory pills and muscle relaxers), I haven’t been able to sit comfortably in order to type!  So I’m thrilled to be in a seated position without any sciatic nerve pain.  It’s a big deal. And I’m thankful.

Without further ado, I’d love to tell you all about our lesson on Leonardo da Vinci.  I already knew quite a bit about the man prior to our study but I will admit that digging deeper into his life was fascinating!  He was truly the definition of a polymath, a word my daughter taught me last week!  Be sure to click the link if you don’t know what that word means. Educate yourself!

The first thing I did in class was to collect our index cards for the group art project we are working on for the end-of-the-year art show.  I was delighted to see how different the cards all were.  No two cards looked alike!

Next, I introduced my students to Leonardo da Vinci and read to them the first chapter of this book.  I’d checked out many books from the library and read through all of them in order to choose what I felt was the best, most succinct information to share with my students.

The children then took out their Artist Timelines and added their photos of Leonardo to the first “panel” on the backside of their timelines.  They were instructed to glue their photos on and then they were shown how to write his name directly under the picture.  Underneath that, the years he lived and then the country in which he was born/lived/worked.  It was to look like this:


Leonardo da Vinci



Students who were able to were asked to take out a sheet of paper for writing their fast facts about Leonardo!

  1.  Leonardo was an inventor, artist, sculptor, and scientist.
  2. He lived during a time called the Renaissance which means “rebirth”.
  3. As an artist,he was best known for painting the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

Student were also told that they had the option of typing up their fast facts to be printed and glued onto their timelines later at home.

I passed out maps of Italy and had the students label the area of the country in which Leonardo lived and worked: Florence.  Students can color their maps of Italy at home for homework.

After we reviewed and wrote the fast facts, we talked about the Mona Lisa.  Then I read them this really awesome book I found at the library which was told from the point of view of the subject of the painting about the time she was stolen.  It’s such a great book!

I passed out a coloring sheet of the Mona Lisa for my students to work on as I read to them.  With my own children, I find that they seem to listen better when they have something to work on as I’m reading.  My class seemed to enjoy coloring during story time.

Finally, we moved on to flying machines.  I read aloud to the children about some of da Vinci’s inventions and then I passed out brown paper bags to each student.  The bags all contained the exact same materials… 10 rubber bands, paper straws and craft sticks.  Each student also had access to duct tape, masking tape, scotch tape, hot glue, and their own art supplies (scissors, markers, crayons, etc).  The instructions were to use da Vinci’s designs as inspiration and to create their own flying machines.  I loved how every single invention was so unique.  Given the exact same materials, every student created something different from the rest.  How exciting!


Students were invited to share his or her flying machine at the end of class.

Links for additional study:

(Disclaimer:  This review this material before showing it to your children… I cannot be held responsible for sensitive material.)

Stay tuned as we continue our study of the Renaissance next time with Michelangelo. 


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