Studying the Renaissance period is an exciting unit for homeschoolers to explore. Here are some ideas to use within your study of this amazing time period, along with resources to use along the way!
Begin your study by taking a look at the timeline of human history to put the Renaissance period in perspective. After researching the time frame, move onto a huge invention of this time- the Printing Press. This is a great time to
learn about Gutenberg and how his movable wooden type changed the world. Explore art through printmaking crafts to experience the hands on feel of printmaking.
Next,explore what life was like in various cities around the world during this iconic time period. In the Renaissance, there were not yet any nation-states, as in France, Germany, or Italy. Discuss the lifestyle of people at this time with your homeschooler. Ask your child why they think town-dwellers built tall square towers on their houses? What weapons and technological developments during this period changed the age of knights and armor forever? Older students will enjoy reading and discussing Machiavelli's The Prince, and discussing the arts of diplomacy and trickery within this classic story.
Comparison of Medieval and Renaissance art is another area you will want to go over for this study of the Renaissance time period. Discuss reproductions of art works, looking at the subject of the pictures and their style. Artists to include are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Brueghel. This period in art led to a greater understanding of depth, as the Renaissance artists greatly contributed to the techniques for showing perspective. Experiment with some of these techniques in art with your homeschooler! Try drawing items in perspective, by placing objects higher up on the page, and making them smaller, hence both making 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. Remember that lines converge towards a vanishing point on the horizon. Railroad tracks are a good example to teach this artistic concept.
Teach your child about a typical lifestyle for people during this period. Discuss food, shelter, clothing, transportation, defense, and education during this time, and study the styles of the houses and clothing, too.
Please don't forget a major influence during this time period- the famous William Shakespeare. Read about the life of Shakespeare and learn about the Globe Theater. Explore child friendly versions of his plays (you can find links at end of this article for kid-friendly websites), and attempt to act out a scene or two from a favorite play.
Lastly, science became modernized by uber famous Galileo. His insight that simple, everyday events could be measured was a major discovery for the field of scientific knowledge. Teach your homeschooler how Galileo, who was bored in church, noticed the oil lamps swinging back and forth and decided to time their swings with his pulse. Discover his laws of pendulums for yourself by creating your own simple pendulums. Try changing some variables: the weight on the rope, the distance it is pulled back, and the length of the string. Take time to have your child discuss these experiemnts and record his or her observations. Explore another one of Galileo's discoveries, with concave and convex lenses. Learn about how Galileo improved the telescope, leading him to subsequent observations of the moons of Jupiter. If there is local planetarium or science center in your town take a field trip to explore space firsthand.
Here are some wonderful books and resources to help you teach about this fascinating time period: