Are you looking for Leonardo da Vinci unit study ideas to use in your homeschool? Today I’m sharing my favorite resources for studying the original Renaissance Man himself.
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Da Vinci has been a longtime source of inspiration for scientists, artists, and historians alike. He’s been a frequent topic of conversation in our homeschool, too. Over the years, we’ve explored da Vinci and his work through artist studies, physical science lessons, and more recently through The Mystery of History.
In addition to those areas, my son and I worked through a da Vinci unit study a few years ago. He was fascinated by da Vinci then and continues to be. In fact, our Renaissance focus in The Mystery of History sparked even more interest in da Vinci and we picked up where we left off a few years ago.
All that’s to say that I’ve come across some great da Vinci unit study resources for students of all ages:
Leonardo da Vinci
Unit Study Resources
Our primary da Vinci resource this time around is Mixing with the Masters Volume I. This is a mixed media workshop that includes a biographical video overview of da Vinci’s life, a study guide, and da Vinci-inspired mixed media art lessons from Masterpiece Society.
I can’t believe I deleted all of the photos of my kids working through these lessons, but it is what it is. 😉 The important thing for you to know is that the lessons help students appreciate da Vinci’s giftedness as an artist while giving them a chance to experiment with some of his methods.
I found this to be especially nice because it’s been hard to find da Vinci-like art ideas that aren’t overwhelming and intimidating for kids.
You can learn more about these da Vinci lessons and the entire Mixing with the Masters workshop by visiting Masterpiece Society. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page if you’re interested in purchasing the da Vinci lessons only; that option is located near the bottom of the page.
Also worth noting, the da Vinci art appreciation unit from Masterpiece Society is a great resource. We used it along with Mixing with the Masters when we revisted da Vinci through artist study recently.
Leonardo da Vinci Unit Study:
What to Read
There’s no shortage of fantastic books to read with for a da Vinci unit study. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Leonardo da Vinci for Kids – If you only use one book for your study, I’d start here first. It has loads of great information about da Vinci himself and his work, but also includes activities, timelines, and website suggestions for further exploration.
- Leonardo and the Flying Boy – This is probably my favorite picture book about da Vinci. It’s about a young apprentice and what happens when his curiosity about da Vinci’s work gets the best of him.
- Monday with a Mad Genius and the matching Leonardo da Vinci Fact Tracker – These two books are great by themselves, but they’re even better with a print and use Novel Ideas literature study.
Looking for some different da Vinci reading material? You can find the rest of my favorite da Vinici books here. You’ll also want to check out some of the great information available online and through digital resources. Let’s take a look at a few good options:
- Leonardo the Florentine is a historical fiction e-book about Leonardo da Vinci and his life.
- I love this Leonardo da Vinci: Architect mini unit because it showcases da Vinci as an engineer, builder, and architect.
- This Exploring da Vinci’s Last Supper mini unit shares the story of one of da Vinci’s greatest paintings. We enjoyed this because it helped us focus on one painting, appreciate the story it tells, and understand the work that went into it.
- Da Vinci’s profile from Boston’s Museum of Science includes a great overview of Leonardo da Vinci, but also explores his work as an artist, scientist, and inventor. Masterpiece Society’s da Vinci lesson is also great for this kind of information.
Leonardo da Vinci Unit Study:
What to Watch
Between Amazon Prime and YouTube, there are some great video options to use with your da Vinci unit study. Leonardo da Vinci: His Life in Three Minutes is a great choice for younger kids and even middle schoolers. You can find it and several other kid-friendly videos on my da Vinci Unit Study playlist.
Middle schoolers and teens may prefer Prime Video’s documentaries on da Vinci, but keep in mind that they’re true documentary style, longer in length, and examine aspects of his life and work that may not be a good fit for all viewers.
Leonardo da Vinci Unit Study:
Studying Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t have to end with books and videos. Here are some ideas for digging deeper through extension activities. Some are better suited for younger kids, some for older students, and some are better for the kids in between, but they would all make a great addition to your da Vinci unit study.
- Leonardo da Vinci bio and activities from Making Art Fun include coloring page, word search, and artist job application. (Pin it for later)
- Introduce your kids to Da Vinci’s words and thoughts through Da Vinci Quotes for Copywork.
- Da Vinci-inspired Design Challenges from Boston’s Museum of Art – These are great for getting your kids to think outside the box and experiment and invent like da Vinci.
- Experiment ideas from Teach Beside Me – This post highlights an activity from Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions. What a great way to get hands-on with da Vinci!
- This self-paced da Vinci lesson from Khan Academy is a fantastic option for middle and high school students.
I usually find more art ideas than we’ll ever have time to try when we study the master artists, but Leonardo da Vinci is another story.
As I mentioned earlier, that’s why the Mixing with the Masters workshop has been great for us. It allowed us to get hands-on while studying an artist who was incredibly precise and complex, and those aren’t typically words you look for when searching for art projects for kids.
Beyond Mixing with the Masters, here are a couple of da Vinci-inspired art ideas to try.
- Da Vinci’s Open Window – This project is more challenging than you might think. You can read through the instructions to get an idea of what to expect, but I recommend it for middle and high school students. I tried it with elementary-age kids and most were a bit intimidated by it.
- Leonardo da Vinci projects for kids – There are some great da Vinci-inspired art ideas for kids in this post from Happy Homeschool Nest. (Pin it for later)
Have you studied Leonardo da Vinci with your kids before? If so, share your favorite resources in the comments below: