How to Use Hands-On Art Projects to Teach Kids About Michelangelo

Dawn Quinn

Michelangelo will always be considered one of history's most prominent artists. The sculptor and painter developed his reputation during the Italian renaissance, and his legacy and prominence has only continued to grow over the years.

The Statue of David by Michelangelo is one of the world's most recognizable art pieces.

Explaining the art of Michelangelo to young art students will help them develop an appreciation for the arts and for history in general. Because he was so diverse himself, there are ways to develop hands-on lessons to teach about the artist.

  1. Teach children about the artwork that Michelangelo created over the course of almost five years in the Sistine Chapel. Explain that the artist spent almost all of his working time on his back to create the famous masterpiece. Tape drawing paper under the desk of each child, and have them lay on their backs and create a work of art with pencils and paint. Show the students examples of the actual work painted on the walls and ceiling of the chapel and challenge them to replicate them as closely as possible.

  2. Give a bar of soap to each child along with a set of plastic utensils. Show students pictures of statues including The Pieta statue and The Statue of David that were made famous by Michelangelo and have them try to replicate them by carving the soap with the utensils. Explain the meaning of each piece as outlined in history books, and explain how the statues have survived time and how they still remain significant in the art world.

  3. Explain the use of the fresco medium used to paint the interior of the Sistine Chapel by recreating it and having students try to paint using it. Mix plaster of Paris according to the package instructions, and allow it to set in the container that you mixed it in for 25 or 30 minutes. Mix tempera powder with the egg yolk to make your paint. Return to the plaster of Paris, and remove it from the mold. Paint with the egg mixture directly into the plaster. Show the children how to work quickly because the plaster will begin to dry rapidly and become hard to work with.