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! 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!
Leonardo da Vinci's Top 10 Paintings - All photos are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_vinciClick thumbnail to view full-size
Which is Your Favorite?
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.) It also includes Michelangelo.
Watch a clip from Nest Family Animated Hero Classics Story of Leonardo da Vinci
Our Favorite Children's Book on Leonardo Da Vinci
Perspective in Art
Perspective in the Mona Lisa
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
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 for each child and the book Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz
Studying & Sketching: Leonardo's Birds
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. Alternatively, they can sketch pictures of birds or birds they see outside the window.
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.
Our Favorite Children's Books Focusing on Leonardo da Vinci as an Artist
- Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp is told from the perspective of the Mona Lisa and describes the painting and also the events surrounding when the painting was stolen. We read a few picture books about the theft of the Mona Lisa. While we enjoyed them all, this was our favorite version.
- Da Vinci (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia is a wonderful children's biography on Leonardo da Vinci. It does a great job of summarizing his life in a child-friendly manner and includes pieces of his artwork along with humorous illustrations, which my children love.
- Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz 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!
- The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (Stories from History) by Susie Hodge 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.
- Fly, Kite, Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher by John Winch fun picture book tells how a bird-catching boy inspires Leonardo da Vinci.
- Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley is a longer picture book but is very enjoyable to read and has wonderful illustrations.
- We also enjoyed reading Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew, Mona Lisa Smiles: Art History Disguised as Fun by Kristin J. Draeger, Leonardo da Vinci by Ibi Lepscky, The Mona Lisa Caper by Rick Jacobson, The Stolen Smile by J. Patrick Lewis, and Mona Lisa: The Secret Smile by Letizia Galli.
- Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osborne is a short chapter book (144 pp.) that my 8 year old son enjoyed reading on his own. It is part of the Magic Tree House series, and in this book the twins travel back in time to meet Leonardo da Vinci.
Looking for Free Lapbook Pages?
Need More Activity Ideas?
Lapbook for "Leonardo's Horse" offers free lapbook pages and activity ideas for Leonardo's Horse by Jean Fritz.
Our Favorite YouTube Videos
Art with Mati and Dada - Leonardo Da Vinci for Kids
Leonardo DaVinci Perfected Word's Largest Horse Statue
How to find the true face of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci - Illustrating History (Gives a great overview of his entire life's work)
Want to Learn More About Leonardo da Vinci?
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.
- Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all my lessons and unit studies? 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.
© 2012 Shannon