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Renaissance Activities for High School

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

High School is a great time to delve deeper into the complexities of the Renaissance. These activities can help your students approach this material in new ways.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance was a transformative period in European history, during which, there were substantial changes in politics, philosophy, the arts, and technologies. There are many reasons for high school students to study the Renaissance, and with such a rich historical period, there's no reason to keep their learning confined to lectures. These activities can help your students engage with the Renaissance in unique ways, and can be tied into many existing lessons and curricula.

Renaissance Activities for High School

Art Exhibit

To begin, talk about museums and art galleries as a class, and ask students what they like to see in a museum. What makes a good exhibit? How do curators select and organize the art or artifacts in the exhibit? Inform them that they will be designing a simple exhibit on Renaissance art. Provide students with a packet of paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance, with a short bit of information on each. Either independently or in small groups, students will look through these packets and select seven pieces to be featured in their exhibit. Students should be thinking beyond simply which pieces are attractive, but looking to create an exhibit organized around a specific theme, idea, or aesthetic. Students will then write an introduction to the exhibit that talks about the Renaissance and the theme of the exhibit.

  • Materials: Packets of Renaissance art, writing supplies

Linear Perspective

Linear perspective was one of the foundational elements of art developed during the Renaissance. Provide students with drawing paper and pencils/graphite, and walk them through the process of creating a work of art using linear perspective, including the use of a vanishing point and horizon line. Give them time to create a simple landscape drawing using linear perspective. They can either create a scene from their imaginations, or you can display an image for them to try and draw using linear perspective. Afterwards, display a number of Renaissance paintings on the screen and discuss them as a class, locating the vanish point and talking about how the artist uses linear perspective to create the illusion of spatial depth.

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