The Renaissance Lesson Plans

The Renaissance, Michaelangelo, DaVinci and the Divine Proportion offer Many Exciting Teaching Opportunities

By Daniella Garran


Renaissance lesson plans

The Renaissance was a time of tremendous intellectual growth throughout Europe. Artists, scientists, writers and mathematicians made advances in their respective fields that left an indelible mark on history. Social studies and history teachers are fortunate that they can teach the Renaissance from a host of perspectives which makes it an appealing topic for a range of learners.

Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci are two of the central figures of the Italian Renaissance. Students should become familiar with their masterpieces and with their individual styles. They should also be exposed to the work of Northern Renaissance artists Pieter Bruegel, Albrecht Durer and Jan Van Eyck. It is also important to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the Italian and Northern Renaissance from a social, political and intellectual perspective.

Playing a game of Memory is a fun introductory activity to familiarize students with the artwork of the Renaissance. Teachers can make copies of a variety of Renaissance paintings which can be distributed to pairs of students. Teachers should make several different sets of the paintings so that pairs can trade sets with one another, thereby exposing them to even more images of Renaissance artwork.

Introducing students to the Golden Ratio (also known as the Divine Proportion) is also a fascinating teaching opportunity. After exploring the ratio as it was used by Da Vinci in "The Last Supper," students should be encouraged to apply the Golden Ratio to their face, to seashells, or to virtually anything that is naturally occurring. Students are always amazed that the Golden Ratio applies to so many different things.

Students can conduct research on a Renaissance artist either independently or in small groups. Afterwards, they can present their information to the rest of the class. They should be encouraged to draw or paint in the style of the artist they have researched, using the same techniques and media. Students are sure to develop an appreciation of Renaissance artists, and their styles after copying their work.  Below are some Renaissance lesson plans I've chosen that offer terrific teaching and learning opportunities.

Renaissance Lesson Plans:

Humanism in the Renaissance

This comprehensive lesson provides a great deal of background information for educators on the Renaissance. Additionally, this is an excellent social studies lesson which will hone students' visual thinking skills as well. Students will learn to differentiate among the different styles which emerged during the Renaissance, and how to identify the distinguishing characteristics of each style.

The Renaissance: How Did It Change the World?

Students begin their study of the Renaissance with an exploration of why it began, and what its implications were. Students discover that the Renaissance was not limited simply to art, but that it also precipitated changes and advances in science, math and literature as well. This lesson also emphasizes the traits which characterized and distinguished the Northern and Italian Renaissance.

Uncovering Renaissance Secrets

This engaging, hands-on lesson leads students through an exploration of numerous web sites in a quest to learn more about the Renaissance and several of its most iconic works of art, including the "Mona Lisa" and "The Vitruvian Man." This lesson is easy to adapt and modify to suit the needs and interests of any class by creating a web quest, assigning an essay, or generating a presentation.

Medieval and Renaissance Art at the Art Institute

This exceptional self-guided lesson can help students become familiar with Medieval and Renaissance works of art. It focuses in particular on developing students’ visual thinking and analytical skills. Although this guide is designed to prepare students for a museum visit, it is an excellent stand-alone introductory lesson to the Renaissance.