Renaissance introduces students to one of the most famous periods in western history. In this lesson, students will learn about well-known historical figures like the poet Dante and William Shakespeare. They will discover several incredible inventions of the time as well.

Students will also get a glimpse into some of the events that led to the Renaissance and ideas that came out of it. They will learn about the Dark Ages and about Black Death. By the end, they will see how modern society has been greatly influenced by this time period. You can use the “Options for Lesson” section for more ideas or alternatives for this lesson.

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What our Renaissance lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Renaissance introduces students to this famous Italian period that influenced civilization and modern times. It describes several historical figures, inventions, ideas, and other concepts that flourished from the 14th through 17th centuries. Students will learn about the idea of rebirth and why this period occurred in the first place. By the end of the lesson, students will have a firm understanding of this remarkable time in history. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

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.

Options for Lesson

You can check out the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional suggestions for ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. Students may work alone or in pairs for the activity. Assign each student a different person, artwork, or invention to research and later present to the class. Students could use other resources to complete a time line of the Renaissance. Another idea is for students to use the content to create a game and game board with questions related to the information. Assign students to read all or part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Shakespeare’s works, or another piece from the Renaissance. Have students view Renaissance artwork and critique it in an essay. One more option is for students to create a “renaissance newspaper” reporting on the events of the period.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes what you may want to focus your teaching on. It suggests you teach this lesson in conjunction with our lessons about Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare.


What Does It Mean?

The Renaissance lesson plan has five content pages. There have been many eras or periods throughout history. One of the greatest periods throughout the history of mankind was called the Renaissance. The French word renaissance means rebirth. The period took place between 1300 and 1700 in Europe when there were many changes in many areas of life. This included political, social, economic, and cultural spheres.

The Renaissance was a time of creativity and change, especially that of the people and how they saw themselves and the world. People wanted to learn more and showed an interest in classical learning. In particular, they wanted to learn about the culture of the ancient Romans, which would lead them to change their own age.

This was a time of rebirth following the disorders and disasters of the medieval world. Historians often refer to that era as the Dark or Middle Ages. Much of the advances in science, art, and government that had been made by the Greeks and Romans were lost during the Dark Ages.

The Renaissance Period is sandwiched between the Dark Ages and what we call modern times. It was the time of dramatic changes and advances in the arts, learning, Christianity, and more. It was the rebirth of what was lost, such as education, science, art, music, and literature. Plus, it led to a better life for people in general.

Italian Renaissance

It began in Italy during the 1300s and spread throughout the rest of Europe. Italy had been the center of ancient Roman history, so it was natural for the Renaissance to begin there. The people living in Italy were constantly reminded of the glory of the Roman Empire by the remains of architectural designs, antique statues, coins, and inscriptions.

Students will discover that Italy was different compared to the rest of Europe. Many of its cities survived the Middle Ages, such as Florence, Milan, Venice, and Genoa. Each of them grew into wealthy, prosperous cities of manufacturing and trade. And many wealthy Italian merchants fueled the cultural rebirth by applying economic and political leadership. They also spent quite a bit of money on the development of arts and education.

Florence was a key city and came to symbolize the Italian Renaissance, which eventually spread throughout the rest of Europe. Many talented artists, poets, architects, scholars, and scientists came to be in a short period of time. The intellectual movement that was at the heart of the Italian Renaissance was called humanism, which emphasized man (the person) and life on earth. It also stated that the Church should not rule certain matters. It rediscovered ancient times, thoughts, and beliefs. Society and people became more secular, meaning they were more interested in the world than in religion and getting to heaven.

Though the Renaissance took place many centuries ago, the products, people, and ideas that were developed during the period have become well known and influential. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo originated during the Renaissance, as did many other significant people. This includes Johannes Gutenberg, Galileo, William Shakespeare, and many others.

Renaissance Highlights

The remaining three pages highlight famous people, inventions, ideas, and changes that occurred during this period in history. Michelangelo for instance was the painter of the incredible Sistine Chapel. He was also a sculptor. One of his most well-known statues is the David. It was also during this time that Christopher Columbus was born. Additionally, William Shakespeare lived at this time.

Inventions of the period include the printing press, telescope, and mechanical clock. In the 1300s, Salvino D’Amate from Florence developed eyeglasses. And Thomas Savery developed the first water pump that was powered by steam. It was considered the first steam engine of modern form. Other inventions included submarines, muskets, thermometers, and adding machines.

Significant events of this era include Black Death, which was a devastating disease that ravaged Europe. One positive event, however, was the change in people’s approach to mathematics. This came about because of Pacioli’s book Everything About Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion. It even included an illustration of the golden ratio by Leonardo da Vinci.

The Renaissance brought along many ideas as well, such as Humanism and Individualism. Humanism was the belief that learning was not preparation for religious life but for self-improvement. Individualism was a belief in the importance of an individual as opposed to the community. The idea encouraged artists and writers to seek recognition for their work, for instance.


The Renaissance lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


You will divide your students into groups for the activity portion of the lesson. There are five questions on the worksheet, each with a space for students to write their answers. The students will discuss each question with their group. However, each student will write their own answers in the space.


The practice worksheet splits into two sections. The first section requires students to match terms with their definitions. There is a total of 10 definitions. The second section requires students to match a description to the correct person that it describes. There are only seven people in the word bank, so students will use some people for multiple descriptions.


The lesson also splits the homework into two sections. The first section contains 15 questions relating to the material students learned in the lesson. After answering those questions, they will complete the next section. The second section contains more descriptions, similar to the practice worksheet. There are seven people in the word bank, but there are only seven descriptions. Students will only use each person once.

Worksheet Answer Keys

There are answer keys at the end of the lesson plan document for the practice and homework worksheets. All the correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare them to students’ responses. 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.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3, LB.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.3

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.