What our Leonardo da Vinci lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: Leonardo da Vinci teaches students a lot of information about one of the most famous artists in the world’s history. Students will discover many facts about his life, what he has accomplished, and how he impacted the world of art and science. They will learn that he was very curious about science and enjoyed doing experiments and studies. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.
Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. For this lesson, obtain paint or colored pencils, drawing paper, and a copy of the Mona Lisa.
Options for Lesson
You will find several additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page. Students may work in pairs for the activity. Assign one of Leonardo’s paintings for further research to present later to the class. Students write essays related to one or more of Leonardo’s paintings. The students create a timeline based on Leonardo’s life, accomplishments, etc. Display copies of Leonardo’s paintings in the classroom, and conduct an art exhibit for other classrooms in the school. Students can explain each piece. Have students do further research about the Golden Ratio and try to identify it in Leonardo’s paintings. Students “commission” each other to create a work of art. Hold a debate with students to argue whether da Vinci could be called a scientist instead of an artist.
The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. It mentions the likelihood that students know who Leonardo da Vinci is. But they may not know much about his accomplishments and contributions to science. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.
LEONARDO DA VINCI LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
Introduction to Leonardo da Vinci
The Leonardo da Vinci lesson plan contains five pages of content. One of the most famous and well-known paintings in history is the Mona Lisa. The painting hangs in the Louvre gallery in Paris and has been there for over 200 years. Leonardo da Vinci is the man who painted it, and we consider him one of the most famous and well known artists of all time. However, he was more than an artist—he was also a scientist, inventor, mathematician, poet, architect, sculptor, and composer. He lived during the Renaissance period, an era in history that began about 1300 in Europe.
The French word renaissance means rebirth. It indicates a time when people during the era took a keen interest in learning about ancient times. In addition, the period is known as the start of the modern age that took place between 1300 and 1700. The period introduced many famous artists, writers, philosophers, and others. Because Leonardo da Vinci lived during this period, we call him a Renaissance Man.
Da Vinci was quite intelligent, and his genius led him to make many unpublished but important scientific discoveries and ideas. He worked as a military engineer to invent advanced and deadly weapons, but he despised war. Though he was one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance, he only left a handful of completed paintings. The Mona Lisa was his most famous.
Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy (just outside of Florence) to an unmarried couple. His father was a 25-year-old notary, Ser Piero, and his mother was a peasant girl named Caterina. Shortly after his birth, da Vinci’s father took custody. Leonardo grew up in his father’s home where he had access to scholarly texts that family and friends owned.
Da Vinci Starts to Paint
The Vinci home had a longstanding painting tradition of which young Leonardo was regularly exposed to. When he was about 15 years old, his father apprenticed him to the workshop of a prominent artist, Andrea del Verrochio, in Florence, Italy. Leonardo demonstrated his great talents immediately. One of his first big breaks was an angel he painted in Verrochio’s work titled Baptism of Christ. It was obvious to many that the student, Leonardo, was much more talented than the master teacher. Da Vinci stayed in the workshop until 1477.
Da Vinci wanted new challenges (and to make a living), so he entered the service of the Duke of Milan in 1482. However, to do so, he had to abandon his first commission (contract to complete work) in Florence titled The Adoration of the Magi. He remained there for 17 years until 1499 when the Duke fell from power. But it was during those years Leonardo achieved his highest scientific and artistic achievement.
He had kept busy painting and sculpting, but the Duke also had Leonardo design weapons, buildings, and machinery. Leonardo produced many studies between 1485 and 1490, with topics that included nature, flying machines, mechanics, geometry, construction, canals, and much more. Some of his designs were of advanced weapons like tanks and other war vehicles, combat devices, and submarines. In addition, he produced his first anatomical studies, which impressed the apprentices and students.
Ahead of His Time
Leonardo was ahead of his time. But because he was involved in so many new ideas and works, he often did not complete some of his projects. In fact, during those 17 years, he only fully finished about six works. They included two paintings, The Last Supper and The Virgin on the Rocks. There were dozens of other unfinished paintings and projects. Most of his time was spent studying science.
Between 1490 and 1495, Leonardo used illustrated notebooks to carefully record his studies. His work covered four main themes: painting, architecture, elements of mechanics, and human anatomy. They were collected in various manuscripts over time. And museums and other individuals now collect them, including Bill Gates, who once paid $30 million for one of da Vinci’s notebooks.
In 1503, da Vinci began the work on the Mona Lisa. From 1513 to 1516, he worked in Rome, where he maintained a workshop and undertook a variety of projects for the pope. In addition, he continued studying human anatomy and physiology, but his progress was limited. The pope would not allow him to dissect the cadavers (dead bodies).
Later, following the death of another patron, Giuliano de’ Medici in March of 1516, da Vinci became the Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the king, Francis I, in France. Francis I provided Leonardo with a stipend (payment) and a house. Leonardo produced additional studies, including those of cats, dogs, horses, dragons, anatomy, nature, machines, and more. On May 2, 1519, Leonardo da Vinci died in France at the age of 67. Legend has it that King Francis was at Leonardo’s side, cradling the Renaissance Man’s head in his arms.
Artist and Scientist
One of the most important applications artists in the past and today use is the golden ratio. This is a special mathematical ratio we can find in nature, and artists used it to achieve balance and beauty in many Renaissance paintings and sculptures. Da Vinci and other artists used the ratio in their artwork, sculptures, and designs. He used the ratio to create the illustrations in a book written by Luca Pacioli about mathematical proportions.
As we stated earlier, one of the greatest and well-known paintings in the world is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It is characterized by the mysterious smile of the unknown woman in the painting. There has been speculation as to who the model for the painting may have been—no one knows for sure. The person who is in the painting may have been pregnant at the time as well.
Another famous painting by da Vinci is The Last Supper, which he started in about 1495. Da Vinci was commissioned to paint it on the back wall of a monastery in Milan, Italy. It took him about three years to complete. It captures the moment when Jesus informs the Twelve Apostles gathered for dinner that one of them will betray him. The painting is known for the details of the facial expressions and the body language of the figures around the table.
Leonardo da Vinci, the Scientist
Besides Leonardo’s genius in art, he developed a unique new attitude about machines. He realized that understanding how each part of a machine worked allowed him to adapt. He could combine the parts and machines in different ways to improve them. Or he could create new inventions no one had ever seen before.
His fascination with machines began when da Vinci was just a boy. Hundreds of years later, people have used some ideas and drawings Leonardo put on paper as blueprints to create perfect working models. Some of the designs included sketches of hang gliders, helicopters, war machines, musical instruments, types of pumps, bridges, and more.
As a scientist, da Vinci’s study included a wide range of subjects, such as anatomy, zoology, botany, geology, optics, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, and more. Leonardo closed the gap between unscientific methods of the ancient world and the modern approach we use today. The modern approach is what we know as the rigorous and necessary scientific method all scientists use today.
Da Vinci’s scientific investigations, along with his curiosity, attempted to answer many of the “why” questions scientists everywhere explored in the past and currently. Leonardo would meticulously observe, record, and sketch information related to his experiments and studies. He always used the method of scientific inquiry: close observation, repeated testing, precise illustration, and explanatory notes.
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most intriguing and interesting men in history who did many extraordinary things. He explored art, science, engineering, philosophy, and more. He accomplished so many things in his 67 years of life. Even today, people throughout the world study his thousands of pages of notes, drawings, observations, and scientific theories.
LEONARDO DA VINCI LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The Leonardo da Vinci lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets will help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson and reinforce the lesson concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to your students.
MONA LISA ACTIVITY
The activity worksheet requires students to create their own “Mona Lisa” painting. The picture can be of any object or person. Students must include some sort of mystery in their picture in lieu of the famous and mysterious Mona Lisa smile. They can use a separate sheet of paper for a rough draft and then draw their final “painting” on the worksheet. Once they finish, they will have others try to find the mystery in their artwork.
LEONARDO DA VINCI PRACTICE WORKSHEET
There are two sections for the practice worksheet. For the first part, students will define or explain five different terms. The second section lists 15 dates or years. Students must describe what happened on or during those dates and times as related to da Vinci.
ANSWER THE QUESTIONS HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
For the homework assignment, students have to answer 20 questions. The first 17 are regular questions. The final three are true or false questions. You can decide whether or not students can reference the content page for help to complete the assignment.
Worksheet Answer Keys
The lesson plan document provides answer keys for both the practice and homework worksheets at the end. Correct answers are in red to make it easier to compare them with yours students’ work. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.