Art Appreciation, homeschool

Michelangelo & Artists of The Renaissance Activities for Kids

And as we enter day two of our unit, so do we also enter the Renaissance.  My Favorite time of history!   Art is a big part of engineering, and so a study of a famous artist, or two, is important to understanding the big picture of innovation.  You as instructor do not have to study both artists, but I assure you either study will be enjoyable for all ages.

Would love to see how you interpret these lessons, and what your artists create: #H2UArtRoom

Warm Up: 


What is one change you think should have been considered by the kings of the Middle ages to help their community?  What would have been the effects?

Write a story or draw a 3-4 frame comic strip to show how it would play out.

Activity Expanding on Day One

  1.  Have the kids take their ideas and be in separate rooms (kingdoms) to “share their ideas”.
  2. After a few minutes ask one student to share another student’s ideas.  
  3. They can’t, why?  What if one of you had an idea that would fix everything?  How could you of helped all the kingdoms with that idea?
  4. How about you draw your comic stirp like six more times by hand for publication?
  5.  So why do you think the ability to produce multiple of the same books quickly with the invention of the printing press became such a big deal?  
  6. What if we could print your comic strip for all kingdoms, rather than just one? (no wrong answers)

With mass production of books, ideas could now be shared with many people as opposed to a select couple.  This sharing of information built up and became a collection of bigger and bigger ideas to write about and share. 

And there came an explosion of many new ideas in science, math, writing, and art. Great minds like Leonardo (we will talk more about him next week), Michelangelo (painter, sculptor, architect), Donatello (sculpture), and Raffaello (Painter & Architect) came out.  Do those names sound familiar?  Ninja Turtles Perhaps?

Any other famous people you can think of from this time period?  Shakespeare, Galileo.

Who was Raffaello?

The big change to note is the difference in not only science but in art between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  Let’s look.

Here is our image from the Middle Ages:

Illuminated Manuscript, Bible (part), St. Jerome in his study, Walters Manuscript W.805, fol. 1r detail

Here is an image from the Renaissance:

Raphael - Portrait of Lorenzo di Medici, Duke of Urbino

Okay Historians:

  • What are three differences between these pictures?
  • Why do you think they are different?
  • Which one do you like more?  (no wrong answers!)

Renaissance artists played a lot with shape in order to to establish depth or space.  Just like we practiced last summer with Grandma Moses, artists use shading and lines to create a three dimensional effect to their art.  Watch Below:

Their Turn To Talk:

  • Where did Raffaello’s ideas come from?
  • Did Raffaello incorporate engineering and innovation into his art?  How?
  • Did Raffaello incorporate symbolism and literature into his art?  How?
  • How did Raffaello create space in his art?


If you want a great activity to follow up this video I highly recommend viewing the simple activity from Day One of our Grandma Moses study in 2018.

Who Was Michelangelo?

Michelangelo was a sculptor, which means he primarily worked with form.  Engineers work with form everyday to develop aerodynamic shapes of vehicles, or devices that can hold necessary technology still with the ease of the public’s use.  Just look at the I-pad or your favorite sports car!

selective focus photography of black car
Photo by Maria Geller on
photo of black lamborghini
Photo by jae park on

Okay engineers:

  • What are three difference between the two cars above?
  • Why do you think they are different?
  • Do you think they drive different?
  • Which one is your favorite? (No Wrong Answers)

Now for a video on how Michelangelo mixed engineering with art! If you are enjoying these videos, Mati and Dada have an amazing collection that introduce children to great artists, all totally free on YouTube!

Their turn to talk:

  • Where did Michelangelo’s ideas come from?
  • Did Michelangelo incorporate engineering and innovation into his art?  How?
  • Did Michelangelo incorporate symbolism and literature into his art?  How?
  • How did Michelangelo create movement in his art?


Now let’s explore what it is like to be a sculptor.  I handed out a bar of soap to each child with a plastic set of cutlery, toothpicks, and QTips.  It doesn’t matter what age your child or teen is, this is a project that only gets better with age.  For older artists challenge them to take inspiration from literature or science for their ending “masterpiece”.


Now take a moment or two to explore some of the great artworks of the renaissance.  Wikipedia has a great variety of Michaelangelo’s images.

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