Cover image with text Leonardo da Vinci FREE Unit Study and shows six black and white printable pages from the study and two biorgraphies.

Leonardo da Vinci FREE Unit Study

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath who lived during the Renaissance.  A polymath is someone whose knowledge spans many subjects and who uses this knowledge to find creative solutions to problems.  Da Vinci excelled at painting, engineering, sculpting, architecture and science. He developed these skills throughout his life and kept thousands of page of notes that allow us to learn about many of his ideas!

Learning about Leonardo da Vinci in your homeschool will inspire your children to become interested in a variety of subjects and develop their creativity.  Plus you will explore art, science and even some math while doing so!  This unit study provides you with a variety of books, videos and hands-on activities to get started!

Grab the books, sign-up to receive the FREE printable unit study and then explore the other resources below!  And if you like this unit study, check out our 30+ other FREE Unit Studies here.

Learn about Leonardo da Vinci in your homeschool and inspire your children's interest in a variety of subjects and develop their creativity. You will explore art, science and even some math while doing so! This unit study provides you with a variety of books, videos, printables and hands-on activities to get started!

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The Books about Leonardo da Vinci

The Leonardo da Vinci unit study was created to use with one or more of the following biographies.  Two additional books are suggested as well.  You may choose to do these as read alouds or have 3rd graders and up read them independently.

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci? (110 pages): This book was written for 3rd-7th graders and is full of black and white drawings and photos.  It follows da Vinci’s life from birth to death and includes much of his work in between.  A timeline is included.

DK Life Stories Leonardo da Vinci (128 pages): Colored photos and drawings make this book stand out.  It also covers da Vinci’s life from birth to death and all his work in between and was written for 3rd-7th graders.  This book contains more detail than the other two biographies recommended here.  Included are a timeline, glossary, quiz and index.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #10: Monday with a Mad Genius (117 pages): If you choose to read the fictional Magic Tree House book below as part of the unit study, then this would be a great biography to use.  It is written for 2nd-5th graders and has lots of black and white drawings.  The book shares his work at various points in his life and gives a good background of the culture at that time.  An index and a resource list to do more research are also included.

Sale
Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?
  • Edwards, Roberta (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 09/08/2005 (Publication Date) - Penguin Workshop (Publisher)

DK Life Stories: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Krensky, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 02/25/2020 (Publication Date) - DK Children (Publisher)
Leonardo da Vinci: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #10: Monday with a Mad Genius
  • Osborne, Mary Pope (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 01/13/2009 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

 

Magic Tree House, Merlin Mission: Monday with a Mad Genius (144 pages): This is a great fictional story for children up to age 10.  The main characters, Jack and Annie, go back in time and meet Leonardo while he is working on one of his inventions.

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Monday with a Mad Genius
  • Osborne, Mary Pope (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 144 Pages - 01/13/2009 (Publication Date) - Random House Books for Young Readers (Publisher)

The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci (Build It Yourself) (128 pages): This book provides biographical information about da Vinci, but also dives deep into his study of the human body and inventions.  I love this book because there are tons of hands on projects you can make at home.  It provides you with so many science lessons.  Best for 4th-8th grade.

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The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci
  • Hardcover Book
  • Pagel-Hogan, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 05/15/2021 (Publication Date) - Nomad Press (Publisher)

The Leonardo da Vinci FREE Printable Unit Study

The printable unit study includes the following:

Notebooking pages about Leonardo da Vinci’s life.

A timeline activity to chart da Vinci’s life and work.

Compare and Contrast Activities: Compare paintings of the Middle Ages with da Vinci’s style of painting, Realism.

Italy Notebooking Page: Includes a map and the flag of Italy to color as well as lots of space to write facts about Italy.

Printed pages from Leonardo da Vinci unit study. Includes a biography notebooking page, an Italy notebooking page, a timeline, events to glue on to the timeline and a Venn diagram page.

 

 

A following direction activity that teaches Italian geography while sharing about da Vinci’s life.

Artist notebooking page: Print one for each additional Renaissance artist you want to study.  Contains space to record the artist’s birth and death years, country of origin, style of art, other fun facts and a place to glue pictures of their artwork.

Printed pages from Leonardo da Vinci unit study. Includes a black and white map of Italy, a set of directions that accompany that map and an artist notebooking page.

Videos about Leonardo da Vinci

FreeSchool has a good introductory video about da Vinci. (5 min.)

The SciShow looks at da Vinci’s contribution to science (9 minutes):

Learn more about Leonardo da Vinci at Kiddle.

Explore Leonardo da Vinci’s Work

Check out the Google Arts and Culture stories and exhibits of his work, including virtual tours.

Older students will enjoy this deep dive into the Mona Lisa, learning what made da Vinci so exceptional as a painter. (14 minutes)

 

Learn about Italy

Da Vinci was born in Vinci, Italy near Florence and spent most of his life in different city-states of Italy.  Here is a video to introduce your children to Italy ( 6.5 min.):

You can learn more about Italy over at Ducksters. This site can help your kids fill out the Italy notebooking page included in the printable packet above.  Or you can check out our full, free unit study about Italy!

Create Your Own Art

Draw in Perspective: Da Vinci’s drawing and paintings were revolutionary in that they brought his subjects to life.  Prior to the Renaissance people and buildings looked ‘flat’ in artwork.  One way he added this realism to his work was through drawing in perspective.  You can learn more about how to draw in perspective with this 10 minute video.

Paint a Fresco: Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting was a fresco.  A fresco is made by painting onto wet plaster, which means you can not go back and change anything.  This was very challenging for da Vinci.  You can paint your own fresco with these instructions.

The Last Supper Diorama: Make a fun diorama of da Vinci’s painting with an egg carton and a free printable.

Da Vinci Coloring Pages: Art work is fun to explore just by coloring a picture of it!  Here are several free coloring pages related to da Vinci.

Make Your Own Paint: Da Vinci used to make paint as part of his apprenticeship in Verrocchio’s studio.  Here is a video that shows you different ways you can make your own paint from household items.

If you have had fun with these projects, check out Take Time for Art’s Renaissance curriculum!

Be An Engineer

Make an Ornithopter: Da Vinci experimented with designs for flying machines.  One of these designs was for an ornithopter, which would fly by moving elaborate controls to make the wings flap.  Older students can build their own model ornithopter with these instructions.

Build a Paper Glider: You can also print these colored pieces to construct your own paper glider.  Or buy this set of paper airplanes to build.

Vitruvian Man: In one of his notebooks, Leonardo drew a detailed picture of a man that was perfectly proportioned.  Use this worksheet to engage your children in a fun math activity to see if they are proportioned like da Vinci thought a person should be.

Build an Arched Bridge: Da Vinci designed several ’emergency bridges’ in his notebooks.  These were meant to be put together and taken apart quickly if a military group needed to cross an obstacle while on a campaign.  Use this post as inspiration to experiment with making your own bridges.

You could also buy this kit to use as part of your unit study:

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Da Vinci Model Kit - Catapult Kit for Kids, 3D Puzzle Building Toy for Boys and Girls, Wood Building Kit for Kids, A Great STEM Project, Engineering Model Kit (Amazon Exclusive)
  • BUILD THREE REMARKABLE MACHINES - a Ballista (an enormous crossbow), a Bombard (an early form of the cannon) and a mighty Catapult.
  • SEND PROJECTILES UP TO 15 FEET - Each model is fully functional; the kit comes with 15 projectiles plus 6 paper targets.
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED - Assemble each model in 1-3 hours: laser-cut wooden components, rubber bands, sandpaper and clear, simple instructions. No special tools necessary.
  • AN INCREDIBLE GIFT! These high-quality models are fun to build and even more fun to use! They make an amazing gift and are a fantastic STEM-based activity.
  • HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATIONAL TOYS - We're proud to make the highest quality hands-on science toys, and all our products are backed by exceptional service. If your experience is less than stellar, let us know and we'll make things right!

Other Activities

Mirror Writing: Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks using mirror writing.  Learn more about it here and then have everyone try writing this way.

Start Your Own Notebooks: Encourage your child to start a notebook to write all of their creative ideas in just like da Vinci did.  We love these books in our homeschool.

Strathmore Series 400 Sketch Pads 9 In. X 12 In. - 2 pack - 100 Pgs Each
  • All-purpose paper intended for experimentation or perfecting techniques
  • Pack of 2
  • Includes 100 sheets of paper per Pad
  • 60-pound weight paper

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