Lower and Upper Elementary Classes Renaissance Studies
September 8 through November 5, 1999
Introduction to the Renaissance
We review the Timeline of Human History to put the Renaissance in its place. Returning students have already studied the civilizations of Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages. This year we concentrate on the last millennium (or a bit less!) just in time for a new millennium.
The Invention of the Printing Press
We will learn about Gutenberg and how his movable wooden type changed the world. We will make prints ourselves, using styrofoam plates and rubber brayers.
In the Renaissance, there were not yet any nation-states - no France, Germany, or Italy. Why did town-dwellers build tall square towers on their houses? What weapons and technological developments changed the age of knights and armor forever? Our oldest students will read and listen to parts of Machiavelli's The Prince, detailing the arts of diplomacy and trickery.
Comparison of Medieval and Renaissance art: The children discuss many reproductions of art works, looking at the subject of the pictures and their style. Lower El students will learn about the lives and works of:
- Leonardo da Vinci
Upper Elementary students will work on reports on even more Renaissance artists.
The Renaissance artists invented techniques for portraying depth. We will experiment with some of these in our own art. Placing objects higher up on the page, and making them smaller, both make them seem farther away. Distant objects tend to be blue or purple. A horizon line is placed three-quarters of the way up the page. Lines converge towards a vanishing point on the horizon. We will experiment with drawing objects such as railroad tracks and cubes in perspective.
Basic Needs of Humans
How did Renaissance people satisfy their basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, defense, and education? We will look through our excellent library of books showing Renaissance houses, styles, feasts, wars, churches, and apprenticeships. Children of all ages will take notes, and work with sorting pictures and paragraphs on our Basic Needs Board.
We will read about the life of Shakespeare and about the Globe Theater, and learn the stories of several plays. Upper Elementary students will produce a scene from Macbeth, and everyone will be invited. (We're aiming for early November.)
Modern science began in the Renaissance with Galileo's insight that simple, everyday events could be measured. We'll learn how Galileo, bored in church, noticed the oil lamps swinging back and forth and decided to time their swings with his pulse. We'll discover his laws of pendulums for ourselves by changing some variables: the weight on the rope, the distance it is pulled back, and the length of the string. We'll learn to observe, to record data, and to draw conclusions.
We'll also learn about parabolas, and how Galileo studied them with water clocks, and we'll see how square numbers are involved in the orbits of the planets.
We'll play with concave and convex lenses the way Galileo did when he improved the telescope, and we'll find out what he saw out there.
Galileo's observations of the moons of Jupiter led him to re-think the Ptolemaic wisdom which held that the Sun and planets revolve around the Earth. He thought he could prove that Copernicus was right, and that the Earth revolves around the Sun. But his books got him into trouble with religious authorities, and he became a brave victim of the Inquisition, a hero who, in peril of his life, stood by his convictions.
From our classroom libraries
Among the children's books we are using are these:
- The Renaissance: See Through History by Tim Wood
- The Renaissance, the Living Past by Simon Goodenough
- The Kingfisher History of the World
- Exploring the Renaissance (1350-1650), Video from United Learning
- The Everyday Life of a German Printer by Giovanni Caselli
- Everyday Life in 15th-Century Florence by Giovanni Caselli
- Eyewitness Art: Perspective by Alison Cole
- Leonardo's Inventions by Jean Mathe
- What Makes a Brueghel a Brueghel? The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- What Makes a Rembrandt a Rembrandt? The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- First Impressions: Leonardo da Vinci y Richard McLanathan
- A History of Art for Young People by H.W. Janson
- Leonardo da Vinci by Francesca Romei
- Introducing Michelangelo by Robin Richmond
- Waiting for Filippo, The Life of Renaissance Architect Filippo Brunelleschi by Michael Bender
- Bard of Avon, the Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
- Macbeth for Kids by Lois Burdett
- Shakespeare Stories, Volumes I and II by Leon Garfield and Michael Form
- Shakespeare for Everyone, series by Jennifer Muherin
Books and accompanying videos, abridged by Leon Garfield:
- Twelfth Night
- The Merchant of Venice
- A Midsummer Nights' Dream
- The Tempest
- Something Rich and Strange - a Treasury of Shakespeare's Verse sel. by Gina Pollinger
- Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb
- Galileo and the Universe by Steve Parker
- The Romance of Physics by Kenneth G. Irvin
- Breakthroughs in Science by Isaac Asimov
- Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher
- The Visual Dictionary of Physics (Eyewitness Books)
- Starry Messenger, Galileo Galilei by Peter Sis
- Galileo and the Birth of Modern Physics by Martin Suggett
- Encyclopedia of Ideas that Changed the World by Ingpen and Wilkinson
Copyright 2011 Dr. Deborah Knapp. All rights reserved.