Yesterday’s Artists, Today’s Inspirations: Homeschool Art History Class 3, Michelangelo

Last Friday, I finally taught an art class without being exhausted and super stressed out!  Between a good night of sleep and the help of my amazing assistant, I feel like I pulled off a pretty awesome class for our students.  It’s not easy to fit two art projects and a history lesson into a 1.5 hour long period but, like a crazy person, I did plan such a thing and it went pretty smoothly!  Of course, had my husband not pitched in, there is no way I would have walked away from the experience with my sanity in tact.

Narrowing down the projects and topics for an artist like Michelangelo is no simple task.  There are so many fun ideas and countless directions in which I could have taken my students but I decided to focus on two themes:  the physical pain caused him by the painting of the Sistine Chapel and frescoes.

Timeline information is as follows:




Fast Facts:

  1. He painted the Sistine Chapel which was literally a pain in his neck.
  2. He was an accomplished poet.
  3. Sculpting was his greatest love and he continued working on sculptures until the week of his death.

I read aloud to the children from this website and then again from this one.  Had several books on hand but none of them fit as perfectly with my lesson plans as the information on these links!

Our art projects included having the children draw family portraits on paper attached under their tables.  The idea was that, like Michelangelo, they would experience discomfort and frustration as they tried to position themselves underneath the tables in order to create a simple drawing.  Many students complained which was precisely what I expected.  I’d imagine they will take the experience with them and vividly remember when art was a pain in the neck… a mere glimpse into the extraordinary agony Michelangelo experienced while painting the Sistine Chapel.

My children had the following to say about the experience:

“Cool idea.  Hurt like crap.”

“I thought it was a cool idea but it did hurt.”

“It hurt my neck.  I couldn’t lay down.”


For two days prior to our class, my rock star of a husband spent countless hours mixing Plaster of Paris in buckets in order to create frescoes upon which my students could paint.  Due to my sciatica, about all I could do was watch.  He ran out of the medium and had to go to Lowe’s in the pouring rain to get more.  I appreciate his help so much and I’m sure all of the children did as well for the fresco paintings appeared to be a huge hit!

To make these at home, follow the instructions on this link.


Additional online resources include:

(and, as always, please preview these resources to make sure they are appropriate for your student)

Next up?  A day of dancers with Edgar Degas!


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