Michelangelo was born in Caprese, Italy on March 6, 1475. When he was born, his father saw “lucky stars in the sky” and named him Michelangelo, which meant “angel” in Italian. As a young boy, Michelangelo was sent to school but was only interested in sketching and painting. His father and his uncles tried to change his mind, as the art profession was only for peasants. At the age of 13 his father agreed to let him study with Domenico Ghirlandaio, a popular painter from Florence. At 16 he went to study with Bertoldo de Giovanni. After a year or so he stopped painting and began working as a sculptor. It was during this time that he lived with the Medici family, an influential Italian family. Piero de’ Medici summoned Michelangelo to build the snow sculptures in 1494. When they lost power he went to Rome. In Rome, he created his first famous piece of art, the Pieta, a statue of Jesus and Mary. When he was 26 years old he created the statue of David. At 30 years old, Pope Julius II asked him to design his tomb. It took him 40 years to finish, and it was so large that St. Peter’s Basilica had to be built around it! Michelangelo was also asked, in 1505, to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica. He painted nine scenes from the Old Testament using a scaffold and lying on his back. He lay for hours at a time with paint dripping into his eyes. It took 4 years to finish the 10,000 square foot ceiling, which is now viewed by 7,000 people per day! When the Medici returned to power, he spent nearly twenty years working for them designing their tombs and the Medici Chapel. Then, the next 10 years were spent in Rome working for Pope Paul III. During this time he painted “The Last Judgment” and started the construction of the dome in St. Peter’s Church. Michelangelo died at age 89, on February 18, 1564.
Much of Michelangelo’s works show nudity. It is recommended that parent previews all works of art before sharing with your child.
Michelangelo’s Surprise by Tony Parillo. It’s about a young Michelangelo, who was commissioned by the Medici family of Florence, Italy to build snow sculptures when the city received an unusual amount of snow. Homeschool Share has a FREE Unit Study and Lapbook for this fun book.
Michelangelo, from the “Getting to Know The World’s Greatest Artists” series by Mike Venezia. This is a cute, informative book, with lots of photos of actual art. Caution: some nudes
A Child’s History of Art, Sculpture by Hillyer and Huey, particularly about Renaissance sculptures and those of Michelangelo. (note: shows some nude sculptures)
Discovering Great Artists by Maryann Kohl.
View Michelangelo’s works HERE. (Note: many include nudity)
View Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Fresco HERE and HERE.
Your own sculptures! Sculpture is the art of fashioning objects out of various materials. They can look realistic or they can be abstract art. It will be lots of fun for your child to try making sculptures with a few different materials. Keep in mind that sculptures should be attractive when looked at from all angles. Also be sure to have child give each masterpiece a title, just as famous artists did. You could even set up a gallery, displaying all the sculptures, and award prizes. Here are some ideas to get you started. Some project ideas adapted from A Handbook of Arts and Crafts by Wankelman, Wigg, and Wigg.
Snow/Ice – If you happen to have snow on the ground, by all means make a snow sculpture! If not, you could crush ice and make a sculpture of that. You may want to show your child some pictures of ice sculptures on the net; they can be quite amazing!
Clay Sculpture – Sculpt a figure out of clay. You can either mold the clay by squeezing and pushing, or you can carve away all the parts you don’t want until you have the desired figure. Follow package drying instructions.
Box Sculpture – Use an assortment of oatmeal and cereal boxes, egg cartons, jewelry boxes, and other containers to create your own box sculpture. Decorate with colored paper, string, buttons, or paint.
Container Sculpture – Use plastic milk or detergent jugs, or other containers, to create a sculpture. This media works well for the sculpture of robots, cars, animals, etc.
Foil Sculpture – Crumple up aluminum foil and twist and form to fashion a sculpture.
Salt and Flour Sculptures – Mix together 1-cup salt, 1-cup flour, and enough water to make it the consistency of dough. Add color if desired. Mold dough into desired figure and let air-dry. After it is dry, you can paint it if desired.
Natural Sculpture – Go for a walk outside and collect interesting pieces of wood, pinecones, seedpods, leaves, etc. Arrange the items into a unique, interesting shape, and glue together.
Straw or Toothpick Sculpture – Using drinking straws or toothpicks, glue or tie them together to make a sculpture. Note: The inventors of K’nex originally came up with the idea for the plastic building toy by sculpting with drinking straws!
Stone Sculpture – Find an interestingly shaped stone. Imagine what the stone is shaped like, maybe a turtle, truck, face, etc. Paint the stone as you imagined it. If you want to use the stone as a paperweight, glue a piece of felt to the bottom.
Sponge Sculpture – Cut up sponges into desired shapes. Sponge piece can be glued together with rubber cement.
Wire Sculpture – You will need a sturdy wire that will hold its shape, and a cutting tool. You may want to first draw out what you would like your sculpture to look like. Bend, twist, and coil wire until you get it to desired shape.
Wood Sculpture – If you know a carpenter, see if you can obtain a bunch of small wood scraps. Arrange the scraps into different forms and glue together.
Record what you learn about Michelangelo on:
Michelangelo Notebook Page
To extend your study:
Learn more about the Renaissance using resources from Homeschool Share’s Renaissance Connections page.
For a tea time treat make:
These cute and delicious Cookie Sculptures!
Honey Lemon (Or Orange) Cookie Sculpture Dough
5 ½ cup flour (I added a little more for those of us in high-altitudes)
3 tsp baking soda
1 ¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
3 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
½ cup boiling water
1 egg, beaten
Combine flour and soda. Set aside.
In large bowl mix sugar, honey, vanilla, zest, and salt.
Add butter, egg and water.
Beat until sugar dissolves.
Gradually stir in flour mixture.
Mix to form stiff dough.
If you aren’t sculpting the dough right away, cover it so that it doesn’t dry out.
You may refrigerate for up to two days or freeze.
Bring dough to room temperature before shaping.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of cookies.
And while you have the honey and lemon out, make yourselves some yummy tea!