We’re still at it with history this summer. I had hoped we’d be finished by now. We made much better time with the ancients than with these complicated medieval people, I tell you.
The other thing that happened to stall us is that it turns out there are more good books about the Renaissance than any other historical topic EVER.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. But truly, we struggled through to find books about the Mongols, the Samurai, the building of the Cathedrals, the Crusades, the Islamic Empire and all the other things we’ve studied this year. There were always a few books, but never a wealth of them. However, when I first went to the library to gather our Renaissance books, I staggered under the weight of what I checked out. And it wasn’t even half of what they offered. Usually we clean them out on any given topic. The ones I pictured up above don’t even begin to represent everything we found.
We’re always big fans of Diane Stanley’s in depth picture book biographies, so we’ve enjoyed both her one about Michelangelo and her one about Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci had a huge section in the biographies area. We checked out and enjoyed more than half a dozen books about him. However, the one we liked best was Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd. The Art for Children books, which we found several of for the Renaissance, were very useful with some great thoughts about the art, but the quality of the images was very dated, which was disappointing. For me, though, the best discovery has been the picture book biographies of Leonard Everett Fisher. His black and white images on stark white backgrounds are striking and interesting. The books are exactly the right length to read aloud in one sitting yet feel like one has read something with some meat to it. I especially like that in the two books we read of his, Gutenberg and Prince Henry the Navigator, he focuses on fitting the figure into historical context.
For this section, we’ve ditched Story of the World pretty much entirely in favor of Builders of the Old World, which I felt did a much better job of laying out the Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Exploration together. I also bit the bullet and did something I haven’t done in quite awhile – I read a Magic Treehouse book, specifically Monday with a Mad Genius about Leonardo da Vinci, aloud. It wasn’t so bad either. The kids loved it, of course. I was reminded that they really are decent little books as long as you don’t read more than one back to back (because if you do that, you’ll be tempted to turn all the repetitive plot elements into a drinking game).
We’ve also gotten back to projects. Here are the kids under tables to paint their Sistine ceiling.
However, the best project book we found was Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself by Maxine Anderson. This book is excellent fun. So far we played with perspective by building perspectographs. You can see that below. However, we’re most excited to build the water walking shoes and test them out when we go south in a couple of weeks. I just need to get to the hardware store and buy the materials. I expect they’ll be a hoot.
You know,our lovely wooden table makes everything look very orange in our dining room photos. I swear, it’s not that orange in real life.