Leonardo Da Vinci's Inventions: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

One of the great inventors of history, Leonardo da Vinci, lived in the 1400s-1500s but developed inventions that would not be built for centuries. Learn about a few of his most famous inventions and creations.

A Renaissance Man

Did you know that all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get their names from famous Italian artists? Leonardo is named after Leonardo da Vinci, the famous artist and inventor. Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, probably his most well-known work.

Da Vinci did more than just paint, however. He was a true polymath, a person who has studied and is experienced in a lot of different subjects. For da Vinci, these subjects included art, music, science, math, nature, and medicine. Da Vinci famously created designs for inventions that were far ahead of their time. While he lived in the 1400s, during the Renaissance period, some of his inventions are things that people have only started using within the past 100 years.

Leonardo da Vinci - this is probably a self-portrait.
Painting of da Vinci


Can you imagine Christopher Columbus crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a helicopter? It seems crazy, but the idea was in place before Columbus discovered the New World. Da Vinci was very obsessed with creating flying machines. Perhaps his most famous design pre-dated the helicopters we know of by some five hundred years. It looked quite different, since it was meant to be made out of wood and nails. It functioned the same way today's helicopters do, however, lifting off by pushing down air. In addition to helicopters, he also invented the designs for parachutes and hang gliders, but they too would not be used for hundreds of years.

Da Vinci Helicopter
Da Vinci helicopter


Da Vinci submitted a book of drawings to the Duke of Milan for a job opening that was supposed to be for an ordinary artist. But these drawings show military machines that would not be used until the First World War, over four hundred years later. Da Vinci drew a tank that could be powered by two men, firing a weapon at the enemy while remaining protected by giant sheets of armor. In addition to tanks, he developed drawings for giant crossbows that could fire an arrow as long as a school bus.

Da Vinci Tank
Da Vinci tank

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