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Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist

Updated on November 15, 2014
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa | Source

Always been intrigued by Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile? Wondering about The Last Summer? This is part 1 of a 3 part hands-on unit study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor. This lesson will cover his work as an artist. Sculpt a horse, use watercolors to paint a bird, practice drawing using perspective, and more! These lessons are geared toward 3rd-4th grade level children and their siblings. They were created by another creative teacher for our weekly homeschool co-op which meets each week for 2 1/2 hours. We have 16 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your family, classroom, after-school camp, or co-op!

Please DO NOT copy this elsewhere without giving proper credit: http://iijuan12.hubpages.com/hub/leonardo-da-vinci-unit-study

Leonardo da Vinci's Top 10 Paintings - All photos are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_vinci

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mona LisaThe Last SupperAnnunciationVirgin of the RocksSt. John the BaptistSt. Jerome in the WildernessThe Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the BaptistSelf PortraitPortrait of Cecilia GalleraniBattle of Anghiari
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa
The Last Supper
The Last Supper
Annunciation
Annunciation
Virgin of the Rocks
Virgin of the Rocks
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist
St. Jerome in the Wilderness
St. Jerome in the Wilderness
The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist
The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist
Self Portrait
Self Portrait
Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani
Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani
Battle of Anghiari
Battle of Anghiari

Which is Your Favorite?

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Lesson Plan on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist

1. Pray. Read from Proverbs 4:1, 4:20, & 7:24. Discuss how Leonardo da Vinci was particularly attentive in his artwork and how we should also be attentive in all we do.

2. Watch the NEST Family video on Leonardo da Vinci. (Approx. 30 min.)

Watch a clip from Nest Family Animated Hero Classics Story of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci Interactive DVD
Leonardo da Vinci Interactive DVD

This is a wonderful family-friendly animated movie that covers the fascinating life of Leonardo da Vinci.

 
Da Vinci (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)
Da Vinci (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)

If you would prefer to read a book instead, this is a wonderful children's biography on Leonardo da Vinci.

 

Perspective

3. Show a picture of Mona Lisa and compare it with another portrait from that time period. Discuss how Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first artists of his time who drew perspective into his art. Give a brief overview of and demonstration about how to show perspective in drawing. You can use the explanation from kinderart.com.

YOU WILL NEED: paper & pencils or other writing utensils

Our Favorite Picture Books on Mona Lisa

Also look for "Mona Lisa Smiles: Art History Disguised as Fun" by Kristin J. Draeger, "The Mona Lisa Caper" by Rick Jacobson, "The Stolen Smile" by J. Patrick Lewis, and "Mona Lisa: The Secret Smile" by Letizia Galli.

Our Favorite Picture Books on Mona Lisa

Sculpture: Leonardo's Horse

4. Read Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz. Explain that da Vinci loved horses and loved to draw animals and would watch them for weeks to understand how they were put together and how they moved. After looking at photographs of horses, mold a horse out of play-doh or clay. The challenging part is making one that can stand up.

YOU WILL NEED: play-doh or clay

Leonardo's Horse
Leonardo's Horse

This is a wonderful picture book telling the true story of Leonardo da Vinci's attempts at sculpting an enormous horse for the Duke of Milan. His sculpture is never completed until hundreds of years later in the 1970's when Charles Dent and others casts the horse for a museum in Michigan and for Milan. My boys (ages 4 and 8) enjoyed this!

 

Leonardo DaVinci Perfected Word's Largest Horse Statue

Good biography on Leonardo da Vinci

The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (Stories From History)
The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (Stories From History)

Of all the biographies, this was the absolute favorite of both my boys (ages 5 and 8) because it's written in a graphic (comic book) style. It is also packed with historical information.

 

Studying & Sketching: Leonardo's Birds

Image credit: http://www.wikipaintings.org%2fen%2fleonardo-da-vinci%2fdrawings-of-a-bird-in-flight/RK=0/RS=MyWqkDXBNTpxqSTMYNyTr0Pnca8-
Image credit: http://www.wikipaintings.org%2fen%2fleonardo-da-vinci%2fdrawings-of-a-bird-in-flight/RK=0/RS=MyWqkDXBNTpxqSTMYNyTr0Pnca8-

5. Briefly discuss different types of mediums used for painting pictures (watercolor, acrylic, oil). Show examples (and let children feel the textures) if possible. Also mention how Leonardo da Vinci also loved to study birds. Let children use watercolors to paint birds. They can either use blank paper or printed out coloring pages.

YOU WILL NEED: coloring pages of various birds (optional), paper, watercolors, paintbrushes, newspaper to cover the table, bowls for water, & examples of various mediums for painting (optional)

6. Five minute review of what you learned.

Some of Leonardo da Vinci's bird sketches

(Photo Credit: wikipaintings.org)

Fly, Kite, Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher
Fly, Kite, Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher

This fun picture book tells how a bird-catching boy inspires Leonardo da Vinci.

 

Good biography on Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

This is a longer picture book but is very enjoyable to read and has wonderful illustrations.

 

Need More Activity Ideas?

Leonardo Lives On provides a great 10 lesson unit at a 5th grade level on Leonardo da Vinci and his times.

Lapbook for "Leonardo's Horse" offers free lapbook pages and activity ideas for "Leonardo's Horse" by Jean Fritz.

Leonardo da Vinci Art Study includes free Charlotte Mason-style activity ideas for a Leonardo da Vinci art study.

More Good Biographies on Leonardo da Vinci

Also look for Leonardo da Vinci by Ibi Lepscky.

How to find the true face of Leonardo da Vinci

Want to Learn More About Leonardo da Vinci?

Making and testing out models of Leonardo da Vinci's ornithopter from Lesson 3: Leonardo da Vinci: The Inventor
Making and testing out models of Leonardo da Vinci's ornithopter from Lesson 3: Leonardo da Vinci: The Inventor

Recreate and test out some of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions, begin an observation notebook, apply his art techniques as you study his art work, and more in this exciting 3 week study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor!

  • Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist - Always been intrigued by Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile? Wondering about The Last Summer? This is part 1 of a 3 part hands-on unit study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor. This lesson will cover his work as an artist. Sculpt a horse, use watercolors to paint a bird, practice drawing using perspective, and more!
  • Leonardo da Vinci: The Scientist - Did you know the artist who painted Mona Lisa was also an impressive scientist? This is part 2 of a 3 part hands-on unit study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor. This lesson will cover his work as a scientist. Build a working hydrometer and hygrometer, begin a nature journal, write notes in a secret code, and more!
  • Leonardo da Vinci: The Inventor - An army tank? A parachute? A machine gun? A bicycle? All these and more were developed by the creative genius, Leonardo da Vinci, in the late 15th century! This is part 3 of a 3 part hands-on unit study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor. Join us as we recreate and test out Leonardo da Vinci's inventions including the ornithopter, parachute, and trebuchet!
  • Leonardo da Vinci Presentations, Meal, & Field Trip - This is the culminating project following a 3 part unit study on Leonardo da Vinci: The Artist, Scientist, & Inventor. Children will present on Leonardo da Vinci's works of art and inventions and then will enjoy an Italian meal together. Also included are the field trips we attended while studying this unit.

Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies?

My Lessons on Squidoo

Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

If you could own one of Leonardo's paintings, which one would you get and why? - Or just leave a note to let me know you dropped by! I love getting feedback fro

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    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 4 years ago

      Love your lens and DaVinci especially. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like his self portrate - just because.

    • weheartjunk profile image

      weheartjunk 4 years ago

      Mona Lisa. It would fit in my kitchen.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @alina nicoleta92: Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • profile image

      EmergencyPrepar 4 years ago

      I love Mona Lisa. The painting is mesmerizing. I can sit and look at it for such a long time and not get tired of it. I have a painting done in 1800s of my great aunt who died at age 3...the painting was done of her before she died of cholera(her brother died 2 weeks after of the same)...anyway...the way she is looking at the painter makes you feel she is looking at you. I can look at it forever.

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 4 years ago

      I can never imagine if I could own one of Leonardo's painting, because it is impossible. But If I can choose, I would love to own the Mona Lisa

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @EmergencyPrepar: It sounds like an amazing painting with a fascinating story.

    • ryokomayuka profile image

      ryokomayuka 4 years ago from USA

      I'm not sure but I do love art and think it would be great to see it in person.

    • nicks44 profile image

      nicks44 4 years ago

      I recon I would have the last supper ... Probably due to all the controversy surrounding it :) Also well done putting the info together, very useful and well built, congrats!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The Annunciation would be my favourite. I love good news.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @nicks44: Thank you!

    • mysweetjane lm profile image

      mysweetjane lm 4 years ago

      great lens the Mona Lisa is my fave (wonder if it really was Leonardo dressed up?)

    • Celticep profile image

      Celticep 4 years ago

      Virgin of the Rocks (Louvre Version) because I prefer the colours and lighting in this one,

    • profile image

      comoguide lm 4 years ago

      I saw the original last supper in Milan! Yay!

    • profile image

      JohnGreenstone 4 years ago

      I love his paintings, but I prefer his sketches of his flying and war machines.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @JohnGreenstone: Those will be covered in Leonardo da Vinci: The Inventor, which I should have posted soon.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Hard to answer as I like all of them, but Mona Lisa is so beautiful, I also like the self portrait, and the last supper.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @comoguide lm: That would be incredible to see!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Mona Lisa although I like all the others too. She is something from the past but could be a Woman of today as well. The intrigue of that half smile what was she thinking in that very moment.xxx

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      He was such an interesting man. If I had to pick one painting, it would be Mona Liza.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 4 years ago

      Great lens, well done! Squidlike

    • profile image

      leonasharon 4 years ago

      Good tribute. And I really hope U see the real monalisa real soon

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      da Vinci is one of my favorite artists. Great lens!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @leonasharon: Thank you!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @sheezie77: Thank you!

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 4 years ago

      I love Da Vinci, although I prefer his studies/sketches to his paintings. Great lens!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      I think I'd have to choose the self portrait because I feel I'd get to know the man, the artist. The Last Supper comes a close second. Shh, don't tell anyone, but I don't really like the Mona Lisa.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 4 years ago from WNY

      This is a great way to teach children about such a wonderful artist! Thanks for sharing, informative, and well-organized lens. :)

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @pheonix76: Thank you!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @alex89 lm: Thank you!

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 4 years ago

      Fun da Vinci fact: never finished a sculpture. Not a one. So the Duke of Milan should have expected there'd be trouble with his horse...

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @LabKittyDesign: Thank you for sharing the fun fact! Yes, Leonardo was well known for not finishing projects. I think benefactors sometimes ran out of money and wars definitely didn't help either.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 4 years ago

      Great lens. I ought be be called DaVinci because I never finish anything ...

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      I have always found Mona Lisa to be a little scary looking. I could never hang her on my wall cause I would always feeling like she was watching me!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      So happy to see "Who Stole the Mona Lisa?" on your book list. It was illustrated by Jill McElmurry, who is the sister of our dear friend Jennifer. I've seen the Mona Lisa in person, and hope to get back again someday.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 4 years ago

      I am so thrilled I found your lens! We are studying him this coming year in our homeschool, so I am bookmarking this lens to come back to it!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @KimGiancaterino: Thank you! That's neat that you know the illustrator for one of the books!

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @blessedmomto7: Great! He was an amazing person! Be sure to look at the last lens I posted on Leonardo da Vinci (presentations, meal, & field trip) where I posted our favorite free on-line lessons and lapbooks on Leonardo da Vinci.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @SoSimplyStephanie: :)

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @UKGhostwriter: Very funny!

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 4 years ago

      He was a genius and one of the smartest people ever, his art was only part of his great contribution, great lens about his artwork, BLESSED

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @Close2Art LM: Thank you so much for dropping by & for the blessing. He definitely was a genius!

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 4 years ago

      All Vinci's art is great :) So as this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love how you prepare everyone in your intro for experiences that they won't want to miss, talk about stirring up kid's interest in a lesson plan and bringing it home! Congratulations on front page honors and thank you so very much for that special thing I see you did for me!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just stopping back because I forgot to mention that I featured this excellence on Masterpiece, this is just plain cool!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you so much for all the sweet comments! Much appreciated!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @Fcuk Hub: Thank you!

    • bilafond lm profile image

      bilafond lm 4 years ago

      What great works these master artists have left for us. Great lens and thank you very much

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Leonardo Da Vinci was an amazing artist his work still inspires and the mystery that surrounds his pieces is so engrossing. I could not pick a favourite all of his art is beautiful he was so talented.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @rewards4life info: Thank you for dropping by!

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @bilafond lm: Thank you for dropping by!

    • profile image

      msseiboi 4 years ago

      Mona Lisa.. i want to keep smiling...

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 4 years ago

      I made a lens called Leonardo's Notebooks. If I had a choice, I would rather one of the pages from his original notebooks - a page with diagrams on it.

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @TeacherSerenia: That would be amazing to own!

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 3 years ago

      Enjoyed this lens

    • iijuan12 profile image
      Author

      iijuan12 3 years ago from Florida

      @siobhanryan: Thank you!

    • ViolaSuSi profile image

      ViolaSuSi 3 years ago

      We had a trip to his native home and town - Vinci.

    • iijuan12 profile image
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      iijuan12 3 years ago from Florida

      @ViolaSuSi: That would be amazing to see!

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