One of the most fascinating men of all times is Leonardo da Vinci. His achievements in both the art and scientific worlds are astounding . We took 8 weeks to delve into his biography, and I can assure you that my children would have been happy if I had allowed them another 8 weeks to continue their explorations.
Here is what we did – feel free to borrow anything you find helpful, I simply ask that you make sure to link back and credit appropriately if you decide to share.
“Leonardo da Vinci” by Kathleen Krull (chapter 4 may be skipped if you wish to avoid discussion of Leonardo’s romantic relationships).
Craft Instructions (supply list provided at end):
~ Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions you can Build Yourself by Maxine Anderson
~ Leonardo da Vinci for Kids by Janis Herbert
NEST learning system activity pages
Dynamic2Moms lapbook elements
Favorite supplemental resource:
~ “Journal of Inventions” paper-art book designed to look like Leonardo’s notebooks providing an insight into his notes and inventions.
~ Additional resources listed at the end of the lesson plans.
Leonardo da Vinci, The Great Observer
Leonardo da Vinci is well known as a “Renaissance Man,” knowledgable in a wide range of fields. His formal schooling was minimal, but he spent his entire life learning about the world and recording his observations. His areas of expertise include engineering, painting, architecture, anatomy.
- Learn about Leonardo’s early childhood
- Discuss the term “renaissance man”
- Make wearable observation notebooks and collection pouches
- practice mirror writing
- Read aloud the introduction & chapters 1 & 2 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- try mirror writing at: http://legacy.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/write.html
- turn the pages of Leonardo’s notebooks at: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html
Leonardo da Vinci, Apprentice
Leonardo da Vinci apprenticed with the famous artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence, the cultural center of Europe. He took delight in learning about every-day subjects like water, an especially important commodity in his world.
- Discuss Leonardo’s fascination with observing the natural world and focus specifically on water
- Make your own webbed swim fins
- Read chapter 3 and 4 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- note: you may want to pre-read chapter 4 to determine if you want to cover Leonardo’s personal relationships in with your child.
- Read Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark – pages marked “Hydraulics”
- Read In Renaissance Florence with Leonardo by Renzo Rossi
- Try to guess what Leonardo’s inventions do at http://legacy.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/LeosMysteriousMachinery.html
Leonardo da Vinci, Weapons of War
Leonardo was known for being negligent of his obligations. He was fascinated with technical process of designing projects, yet rarely followed through with his promises. He left behind a total of only 13 finished works yet we have over 13,000 pages of his sketches. In that time people who could design weapons were highly employable, so many of these sketches reflect that interest. Eventually Leonardo left Florence and moved to Milan where Duke Sforza became his patron.
- Learn about Leonardo’s personal distaste for war, and the economic demand for his inventions
- Make your own tank based on Leonardo’s design
- Read chapter 5 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Look at Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark – pages marked “War Machines”
- Watch a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s tank in action: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/doing-davinci-tank-test.htm
- Read Leonardo’s job resume: http://www.adifferentplace.org/Leonardo%20da%20Vinci%20Job%20Resume.pdf
- Watch two groups designing and testing trebuchets based on historic designs in Nova’s video: MedievalSiege
Leonardo da Vinci, Painting & Sculpture
Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork was not limited to paintings. He created great sculptures as well. Artists at that time had to learn not only painting, but also how to make practical and useful items such as costumes.
- Read Jean Fritz’s Leonardo’s Horse Copyright 2001, G.P. Putnam’s Son, Fogelsville, Pennsylvania.
- Built your own clay horse using found objects as a “skeleton”
- Catch up week – complete any unfinished reading or projects from the past few weeks, and begin researching catapult and trebuchet designs for the last class.
Leonardo da Vinci, Architecture
Leonardo da Vinci began his architectural studies by looking closely at tools. He then progressed to creating his own designs, filling his notebooks with plans for canals, stables, and churches.
He was fascinated with severe weather, and his architectural drawings reflect this as he examined the strength of pillars, arches, and beams. He even presented a plan for the “ideal city” which would provide a healthier environment, but because his plans would require the complete rebuilding of Milan, his ideas were never implemented.
- Discuss architectural style, the problems Leonardo was concerned about (cracks, foundations, etc.) and his ideas for solutions.
- Learn about Leonardo’s connection with the plague and his design for the ideal city
- Make your own measuring wheels based on Leonardo’s ideas
- Read chapter 6 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Read Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark – pages marked “Architecture”
- View the modern day version of Leonardo’s bridge: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1630792.stm
Leonardo da Vinci, Flight
From a young age Leonardo da Vinci was captivated by the idea of air travel. He spent a lot of time studying nature and used his knowledge to design a multitude of mechanical devices with the goal of human flight. It is not known if he ever tested these, but he is hailed as one of the pioneers of aviation, despite living 400 years before the first successful manned flight.
- Learn about Leonardo’s fascination with flight
- Build your own Air-screw and launcher (note: We had a hard time getting these to work. As frustrating as that seems, it gave us a wonderful opportunity to discuss Leonardo’s untested plans, and understand the necessity of persistence in innovation.)
- Read chapter 7 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Read Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark - pages marked “Flying Machines”
- Take a look at these great Leonardo science experiments! http://www.mdsci.org/pdf/Exhibits/Da%20Vinci%20Activities%20Guide%202009.pdf
Leonardo da Vinci, The Human Body
Leonardo da Vinci believed that in order to accurately represent the human body, one had to understand it. He dissected many corpses during the course of his life, and learned much about anatomy. Among other things, he discovered arteriosclerosis by comparing the arteries of a very old man to those of a child.
- Examine Leonardo’s close attention to the details of size and scale by coloring copies of his “Proportions of the Human Figure”
- Make your own perspectograph
- Make a graph of class measurements to determine is Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man predictions were correct.
- Read chapter 8 of Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Read Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark – pages marked “Mechanical Man” (Note: There is a picture of the Vitruvian man under the right-hand flap. You may want to pre-view it to determine your own comfort level with this image.)
- View an extensive collection of Leonardo’s anatomy drawings at: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-anatomist (reminder – some of these are very accurate. Please pre-view)
Leonardo da Vinci, Mechanics
Ready Set Launch! I hope your family had a fabulous time studying this Renaissance man. Leonardo da Vinci is a great inspiration for trying new things.
- Discuss the changes that Leonardo inspired
- Watch The Animated Hero Classics: DaVinci by Nest Complete Learning System (30 min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNlGKUWacQY
- Finish reading Leonardo da Vinci (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci by Jaspre Bark – pages marked “Mechanical Inventions”
- Build your own trebuchet! Here are a few ideas to get you started -
Create your own:
Lego catapult: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/lego-catapult/
More catapult designs: http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/?q=catapult&sort=none
Trebuchet designs: http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/?q=trebuchet&sort=none
Buy a kit:
If your student is excited to learn more about the life and inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, take a look through these fun resources.
(Again, please remember to preview any books or websites you choose for your student. Leonardo da Vinci was accused of an inappropriate relationship during his youth. The charges were dropped, but some books and websites go into detail about the incident. Also, Leonardo studied human anatomy extensively, and that interest is reflected in his work.)
Books (with my favorites listed at the top):
Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer by Roberty Byrd
Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley
Who was Leonardo da Vinci by Roberta Edwards
Leonardo da Vinci by Barbara Witteman
The Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci by Margaret Cooper
Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Painter by Brendan January
Masters of the Renaissance narrated by Jim Weiss
Treasure Chests: Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance by Andrew Langley
Boston Museum of Science – Da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist: http://www.mos.org/leonardo/
Leonardo, The Man, His Machines: http://www.lairweb.org.nz/leonardo/index.html#stages
Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum www.museoscienza.org/english/leonardo
Leonardo da Vinci biographical video: http://www.biography.com/people/leonardo-da-vinci-40396/videos/leonardo-da-vinci-full-episode-2073405212
Craft Supply List
- index cards
- 1 inch binder rings
- printed cards for cover
- hole punch
- short pencils
- brown felt
- large needles
- beige embroidery floss
- thick string
- latex gloves
- duct tape
- permanent marker
- disposable pie pans (2 per student)
- kitchen size match boxes
- 1/4” dowels
- duct tape
- paint sticks
- thumb tacks
- Cereal boxes
- 3/8” dowel
- hammers & nails
- vegetable garden stakes
- duct tape
- empty cd case
- dry erase marker
- heavy cardboard
- tracing paper
- hole punch
- recycled items (wire, paper tubes, etc.)
The line is there. A visible reminder. It marks the boundary between the new kitchen and the unrenovated hallway. The hallway with a floor that sheds its color when it is washed. Old meets new. 1960 meets 2013
Okay, so maybe it really is 1960 meets 8 years ago when we started this project and created that line.
A comment from Sue of sahmsue.com on my post about our newest little boat renovation got me thinking. - We are a project family. There is always some new and interesting project in the works. There is also always something incomplete in our house.
You know what? I’m okay with that.
We added on to our house when my son was born 8 years ago, and the permit with the town is still active. Sure, we finished almost everything, but there is a bathroom that we don’t really need right now, so the project languishes.
We replaced windows, but the playroom remains without trim because we eventually want to re-do the entire thing. Eventually, one day.
We have stacks of reclaimed wood in our basement. In the future we hope it will become a beautiful feature in our home.
We purchased flooring for the living room and that hideous color-shedding hallway, but have yet to install any of it.
One day our home will be completely remodeled. Every little nook will have beautiful trim and hidden storage. But you know what? We will never be done. R00ms will need to be re-painted and we will decide to build a new shed or add on a sun room.
Having goals is good, even if you don’t reach your goal quickly. They teach us persistence, patience, and how to make intentional choices. For now, we are choosing to enjoy the process.
My hardworking husband had himself convinced that he bought this old wooden racing boat “only for the motor.”
That didn’t last long. He can’t let a good project go to waste. We quickly went from, “Well, maybe I’ll just give it a quick paint job and toss it into the water for the kids,” to:
Unfortunately, all of the long
hours months of repairs and sanding aren’t as photogenic.
And that motor? It is almost done too. Summer, here we come!
Summer school sounds horrible, but it is actually one of the best parts of homeschooling. Our summers are always a time for learning-adventures; practicing skills, and jumpstarting imagination as we throw ourselves headlong into a subject.
This year, when I asked the kids what topic we should choose for our in-depth study, they decided that they want to spend time building. We had a great time brainstorming ideas, and I noticed that most of their inspiration seemed to be coming from the Boston Museum of Science playground exhibit, which we visit on a regular basis.
Aha! Physics. Great idea kids!
I like using Gravitas’ Real Science 4 Kids over the summer, simply because the lessons are so short. It isn’t something I would use during the school year, but it is perfect for a few weeks of fun diversion. Especially if you add in weekly videos of the antics of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Elementary Physics is far much too fun for little tiny experiments. We will do the little ones, but in all reality, we want to go BIG! Wood, metal, tools and messes are calling to us.
Time for a backyard playground. Here is what I have planned:
(Warning, disclaimer, and I-already-told-you,-so-don’t-blame-me: These instructions are not my own, and I can not vouch for their safety. Many communities have discontinued use of similar toys because they believe them to be dangerous. Build at your own risk – I am.)
Chapter 1 – What is Physics?: gravity & rules
We are building our first tree house. This has been a long promised project, so it is high time we get it done. The kids have been climbing around our trees trying to discover the perfect treehouse location. Once they discover it, they will start by build a simple platform with their dad and then we can drop balls of various weight (Galileo style) as they investigate gravity. Building the rest of the treehouse will keep us busy over the course of the summer. I’ll keep you posted!
We also plan to make our own giant jenga game ( instructions available at ImLovingToday), cutting and sanding large quantity of rectangular blocks so that we can build and then topple towers, watching the effects of gravity. Physicscentral.com does a great job of describing why the towers always break in the center.
A super easy balance beam from Genny at InLieuOfPreschool is also a possability.
Watch: Bill Nye – Gravity
Chapter 2 – Push and Pull: force, work and energy
Levers are my favorite physics concept for little kids, and there is nothing more fun than creating your own see-saw. Ana White provided the great instructions we plan to use. We will hopefully change the plans a bit to include a moveable pivot point so that we can experiment with it a bit.
Pulleys are lots of fun too. A flagpole, zip line, and bucket delivery system will probably find their way into our treehouse before the summer is over.
Chapter 3 – Kinds of Energy: storing & releasing energy
We already have a swing-set, but I hope to add a tire swing using instructables as a guide (spinning swings are my daughter’s favorite, so she will be thrilled to get her own) while we learn about the period of a pendulum and potential energy.
Watch: Bill Nye – stored energy
Chapter 4 – When Things Move: inertia & friction
Inertia & friction – We could build a spinning top with household items, but what we really want to build is a giant backyard merry-go-round using these instructions from Treehouses and Other Cool Stuff. So. Much. Fun! I remember playing for hours on these when I was a kid. I really hope it works out the way I imagine.
Watch: Bill Nye – Law of Inertia
Chapter 5 – Chemical Energy: atoms & batteries
Chemical Energy is a bit tricky to incorporate into a backyard. I may change my mind, but for now I think we will just discuss photosynthesis as we work some of our grape vines into the beginning of a decorative arch. I’ve always loved the way these look. It seems as if there must be a mystical play-land beyond. If we are really ambitious, it could come out something like these plans from Popular Mechanics, but I have a feeling ours is going to be much simpler
We will also take the time to turn the compost and feel for heat underground.
Chapter 6 – Electricity: electrons, static, & charge
Watch: Bill Nye – Static Electricity
Chapter 7 – Moving Electrons:
After practicing with our snap circuits, we plan to wire up several of our own solar powered lights for our treehouse. Yes, we could buy these very inexpensively and save ourselves the time, but the goal is to understand wiring and to have some fun creating a useful item.
Watch: Bill Nye – electric circuits episode
Chapter 8 – Magnets: poles & force
This project is specifically for our youngest, who spotted it a while ago and really wants her own outdoor magnetic toy. The big kids will make her their own extra large version of the levitating bunny using big ring magnets, pvc pipe, and milk bottle shrinky-dinks of their drawings. This has a lot of potential to be adorable. I can’t wait to share photos.
Watch: Bill Nye - Magnets
An outdoor xylophone will probably drive the dogs next door out of their mind, but the kids are really excited about this project. I found instructions at Instructables.com, but we may play with the design a bit. I think it would sound even better if we made it out of metal.
Watch: Bill Nye – waves
Chapter 10 – Saving Energy: use & waste
Our final project is the one that I am looking forward to the most. I have always wanted an outdoor storytelling nook. We have a perfect location – a bunch of boulders that we unearthed when we added on to our house. Building a bench and fire pit out of recycled materials will make it into a cozy spot. I am going to give the kids a lot of freedom on this project, so that they can make it their own. No plans, we will just see what we have on hand and start from there. Recycling at its finest.
Watch: Bill Nye – Fuel Systems
By the way – my kids are still little. Our lessons aren’t intended to cover all the bases, but to develop a foundation of vocabulary and concepts that they will be able to reference as they grow older.
I’ll let you know how our summer goes. Wish me luck!
We are a loud family.
I can see all of you who know us IRL laughing. Okay, okay, so that was a giant understatement. We are a very loud family, or as my kind brother in-law jokingly says, we are “lacking in volume control.”
Some places bring out the silence in us though. The lake is one of those spots. Mid-week and off season is our favorite. It is so easy to hear the call of the eagles or the drum of woodpeckers, that we all go down a notch or two just so we don’t miss anything important.
Lapping water, scurrying chipmunks, cracking ice.
The sensation of cold water and warm sand.
Picnic lunches on rough boards.
Giggling voices as they make up elaborate plans for the future.
The familiar scent of closed up houses, wood smoke, and flowers just beginning to bloom.
Yeah, we like it here.
April 22, 2013 in Party Planning
Pretending is the best part of being a kid.
When we decorated my daughter’s room with birds a few years ago, she developed an imaginary friend named Tweet-Tweet. He flies around our house causing minor mischief, sitting on her finger or head, and sometimes requiring his own snack.
I love the creativity that imaginary friends offer; the sweet innocence of it all. When she asked for Tweet-Tweet to be the center of attention on her birthday, I couldn’t wait to oblige. What a fun way to honor this very fleeting part of childhood!
Imaginary Friend Invitations
When trying to make imaginary friends visible, Photoshop is your friend. I had my little girl pose “holding” Tweet-Tweet, and used her descriptions to add him in and faded the image to make sure that it was evident that he was imaginary. I then added bird shaped tags containing all of the party details. She LOVES this picture, and keeps it beside her bed. Aww…
Imaginary Friend Decorations
I lucked out in having a daughter whose imaginary friend is a bird. Bird decorations are fairly easy to find.
In a moment of beautiful serendipity, I went looking for leftover vinyl bird outlines from the birthday girl’s room to use as a stencil in our art project (I’ll explain that in a moment) and discovered that I still had not only bird stickers remaining, but also letters that spelled the word “Imagine.” Hooray! I decided to turn it into the centerpiece of our room, saving myself all sorts of time and energy.
The kids dug around in our Easter decorations and pulled out all sorts of egg and duck items, which they happily scattered around the house – some of it landed in logical locations and some, not so logical. The wooden duckling in the dog bed being my favorite kid-inspired decor. Shadie didn’t appreciate it quite as much as I did.
A soundtrack of bird calls was the final touch of birdie goodness.
Imaginary Friend Games
Our crew is fairly easy to entertain so, to be honest, I didn’t plan any games until the afternoon of the party.
I picked up a bunch of bird shaped clips, and our first game was to go attack the dads and clip them on their clothes. Simple, hysterical fun. We then settled down to building game, with the kids trying to get all of the clips attached at the same time – much harder than it sounds.
It should also be known that I secured my position as most-annoying-adult-on-the-planet by teaching the kids a loud (very loud) and boisterous rendition of the Chicken Dance, complete with shrill bird shaped whistles. This was FUN!!! … Annoying, but fun.
Imaginary Friend Craft
A friend suggested our craft, and once I heard her idea I had to follow through. We made our own acrylic portraits of our imaginary friends.
We started by painting the background, then (after letting it dry with a bit of help from Dad’s air compressor) we used black paint to make silhouettes. The older kids did theirs free-hand, but the younger ones used the vinyl sticker surrounds from wall decorations as stencils and simply painted over the whole thing with black paint. They came out beautiful!
Imaginary Friend Food
My kids love planning for their birthdays, and this was no exception. My youngest happily threw herself into baking 8 pork pies for her guests (they were originally going to be chicken pot pies, but she objected to eating birds on Tweet-Tweet’s special day – she had a good point). Okay, so she basically just threw flour around and played with dough while I baked, but we had fun working together anyway.
Her cupcakes were decorated with sugar cookie birds, macaroon nests, and sugar pearl eggs – ignore my lousy piping on the frosting – I’m not sure why I chose that one to photograph. The cookies were baked with a toothpick inside, so they were easy to stand up on top.
Recipes are on their way.
Imaginary Friend Goodie Bags
Our decorations and activities turned into gifts for our guests, and they all went home with a stuffed bird, their own imaginary friend painting, and their bird whistle.