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Did Leonardo Da Vinci’s Curiosity and Detailed Drawings Influence Communities Around the World?


Language Arts, Science, Social Studies  



Title – Did Leonardo da Vinci’s Curiosity and Detailed Drawings Influence Communities Around the World?

By – Mary Mills

Primary Subject – Social Studies

Secondary Subjects – Science, Language Arts

Grade Level – 3

Duration – 1-2 weeks


      For another multidisciplinary lesson on Leonardo da Vinci lesson from Mary Mills see:


    Multi-tasking artist’s lasting impact on modern communities and culture

Subject Specific TEKS:

    113.5 (b 3.14-3.18) – Culture, Science, Technology & Society, and Social Studies Skills

Technology Specific TEK:

Multiple Intelligences Addressed:

  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Spatial
  • Personalized learning

Main Objective/Goal:

    TSW assess how one young, solitary boy’s curiosity, detailed drawings, and written journals influenced communities around the world – artists, inventors, cartographers, machinists, mathematicians, musicians, astronomers, botanists, historians, and medical researchers.

Specific Objectives:

  1. TSW research and answer basic background questions about da Vinci (testing on five basic questions below).
  2. TSW construct a parachute kite based upon Leonardo’s version of a helicopter (ornithopter), describing how airplanes fly (aerodynamics).
  3. TSW add five new Italian phrases to their Vocabulary Notebooks (from teacher’s pre-selected list of 10 phrases below).
  4. TSW predict why Leonardo’s helicopter design did not work.
  5. TSW place a stick in the ground at an angle (sunny day) to determine NSEW directions (like compass), and then prepare an imaginary “scaled map,” including a legend (key) of symbols used on map.


  • #2 Pencils, pens, color pencils, crayons, watercolors
  • overhead transparency with 10 Italian phrases translated into English, with pronunciations in English
  • Parachute kites supplies:
    • 16″ square piece of garbage bag plastic
    • scissors
    • kite string
    • ruler (T-shape 24″ ruler)
    • darning needles
    • small toy figures
    • ribbon 1″ X 2 ft. long
  • Compass Direction Experiment:
    • 1 stick at least 8″ long
    • sample maps
    • 8½” X 11″ sheet of paper
    • pencil and ruler
  • Scaled Map with Legend:
    • sheet of construction paper
    • pencils, crayons or color pencils
    • regular rulers

Focus/Anticipatory Set:

    “Raise your hand if you have ever gone to the grocery store with your parents. (Lower hands, please). I can see that all of you have visited a grocery store. Did you observe or see things that you wanted to ask your parents about? (Raise your hands, if yes). Teacher asks for volunteers to share questions and discuss possible answers. Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci would have asked questions like yours, then return home and write what he learned in a journal, even illustrating or drawing a picture of what he saw? Because da Vinci was curious about the world around him, he made our world a better place. Let’s find out why and how.”

Instructional Input and Modeling/Examples:

  1. Teacher picture-walks book,

    Leonardo da Vinci for Kid

    s by Herbert (includes Timeline, Glossary, Bios of other Renaissance artists/Historical figures, Web Sites, Sites of da Vinci’s works).

    Students are assigned to read pages 1-4 text; Teacher points to homework questions on board.

  2. Teacher shows pages 54-55, Parachute Kite pages; prepares students for making own kites later. Dictionary used to explain aerodynamics (how differences in air pressure allow objects to fly). Students predict why Leonardo’s helicopter design did not work.
  3. Teacher displays ten Italian phrases on overhead, passes out sheet to students to take home and practice five favorite phrases to share with class next day.
  4. Students use atlas and maps to understand what a map legend is and how to prepare an imaginary scaled map; Students share 5 new Italian favorite phrases learned.
  5. Class tests on five da Vinci early-life questions after we review information together. Teacher joins with class to verbally repeat 5-10 Italian phrases and what they mean in English (chanting in sing-song voices) with teacher leading, students repeating (teacher observes).

Check for Understanding:

  1. Teacher asks “How do we know that baby da Vinci was very smart and curious about the world around him (refer to hawk perched on cradle)?.
  2. Teacher asks students who raise their hands for their favorite Italian phrase.
  3. Teacher asks if air has pressure when wind or engines thrusting forward create momentum (refer to kites and fan).
  4. Did you have fun learning about map legends, a scaled map, and sharing information with your parents?

Guided Practice:

    Teacher observes and analyzes five students daily as they proceed through projects, making anecdotal records for student assessment folders. Information has been presented and reinforced. Students are on task and are eager to learn more.

Re-teaching Opportunities:

      Teacher includes more songs or creative poems about kites; Students color a helicopter, kite, or map copied from the site:



  • Amazing Leonardo da Vinci’s Inventions You Can Build Yourself

    by Maxine Anderson

  • Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas

    by Janis Herbert

  • A Short Walk Around the Pyramids and Through the World of Art

    by Philip M. Isaacson
  • Maps: atlases, road maps, Texas map, map of Italy, map with city layout and legend
  • Italian-English dictionary sample
  • electric fan

Possible Connection to Other Subjects:

    Astronomy, art, math, experiments, science fair project, music, or human body

Independent Practice:

  1. TSW construct own parachute kite, letting it go in front of fan inside classroom to observe how wind helps kite gain lift. Teacher asks selected students if created parachute kite worked. Teacher suggests that class try making another kite at home to see if it works better there, reminding students to share their success or failure with class later.
  2. Students prepare compass experiment outside. During recess, class checks stick to determine direction (NSEW) of stick shadow as sun moves from east to west.
  3. Students develop their own scaled map, taking information home to finish it, if needed. (Please share your map with parents).
  4. Independent Reading Time: Students browse through

    A Short Walk Around the Pyramid



    Da Vinci’s curiosity and detailed journaling remind us to follow his great example. We chanted and discussed 5-10 favorite Italian phrases; built a parachute kite to learn about aerodynamics; determined compass directions, and we created and designed a scaled map, including a symbols legend (an original, imaginary work). Our new knowledge and curiosity leads us to emulate Leonardo. You will become the da Vinci’s of the future, influencing others around the world to create and dream.


  1. Students test on five basic questions (early life).
  2. Teacher observes and analyzes students’ grasp of principle of flight (students raise hands to guess why da Vinci’s helicopter design did not work and teacher writes answers on board).
  3. Teacher encourages students to share five favorite Italian phrases with class. Students write new phrases in their Vocabulary Notebooks.
  4. Teacher praises students’ grasp of compass directions and encourages class to share their scaled map with their family, and then return it to class next week for display.


  • TSW prepare a timeline of da Vinci’s life and creative work (five examples).
  • TSW make a homemade musical instrument or a hygrometer (to measure humidity in the air).
  • Those who fail to master assignments will take home experiments and phrases and complete those with their parent’s help (notes to parents will encourage them to help their children).


    Resource person will help their student do the work in whichever format student prefers (they may draw kite and color it or learn simple Italian phrases). ESLs will relate to Italian phrases well, if they are proficient Spanish speakers.

Safety Rules:

    Teacher or trusted volunteer will pre-cut plastic pieces for kites and ½” center holes (kite project).

Harder Word Wall:












Map legend


10 Italian Phrases:



Buon giorno. Good morning. BWON JORno.
Buona notte. Good night. BWONno Nawtte.
Mi chiamo. My name is… MEE Kyah mo.
Ciao. So long… CHAHo.
Scusa. Excuse me. SCOOzah.
Per favore. Please… PEYR faVORay.
Mille grazie. Thank you very much. MEELle. GRAHtzee.
Si. Yes. SEE.
No. No. No.
Come stai? How are you? KOme STY?

Leonardo da Vinci Background Test:

  1. In what year was Leonardo da Vinci born?
  2. In which region of Italy was he born?
  3. What did Uncle Francesco teach Leonardo?
  4. What was the only formal education Leonardo received?
  5. What purpose does an abacus serve?

Background Test Answers:

  1. 1452
  2. Tuscany, near small village of Vinci
  3. Names and uses of plants and herbs, signs of approaching weather, habits of wild animals who lived in hills around Vinci. Uncle Francesco never tired of Leonardo’s constant questions (where does the river begin, what makes lightning, or what happens to a caterpillar inside its cocoon?).
  4. A local priest taught Leonardo how to read and write and how to use an abacus.
  5. Counting


Mary Mills


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