Generally considered the period from 1400 to 1600 in Europe, the Renaissance began a period of invention and innovation that continues today, according to historians such as those at the Allentown Museum of Art (see References below). Many items we use in modern life have origins in this period. Renaissance advances in art, literature, science and everyday life provide interesting and entertaining activity ideas for kids.

Feast on History

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Have a mock Renaissance feast with kids. Allow them to help you prepare the food or have them work on crowns to wear, tissue paper flower vines for the table or even making homemade butter while you prepare the menu, which should consist of items such as turkey legs, sausages, bread and butter, cheeses, squash, potatoes and fresh fruit.

Cut poster boards into shields and have kids create their own coats of arms. Explain that the designs and colors on a coat of arms should have some family significance. Use acrylic or tempera paint to decorate the coats of arms.

Practice innovation and invention by using recyclables to create a pretend mechanical invention. Have them sketch out an idea for a way to do a job better using a machine. Create it by gluing or taping recyclables such as cardboard tubes and other discarded objects such as paper clips or buttons together. Paint the inventions with spray paint to cover any writing on the scraps you used.

Crafts of the Past

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Make dipped candles using melted wax and wicks. Use beeswax and wicks to roll candles. For another table decoration, make flower garland head wreaths from real flowers and vines. Alternatively, make them from tissue paper and pipe cleaners.

Weave yarn or thin strips of cloth to create a mat rug or place mat. Use natural items such as reeds or other plant material to weave small baskets. Use bits of cloth, cotton stuffing and yarn to make rag dolls. Decorate them with embroidered faces if age appropriate.

Create pomanders and sachets just as people in the Renaissance did when modern plumbing did not keep odors at bay. Stick cloves in oranges and tie ribbon around the orange as a hanger to make a pomander. Tie cloves and cinnamon up in small bits of cloth with ribbon to make sachets.

Arts and Sciences

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Though illumination books began during the Middle Ages, they still existed during the Renaissance as well. Create illumination books about the Renaissance using large, decorative letters to start the first words of the page. Add decorative borders and pictures to the edges of the pages.

Paint or draw yourself or someone you know to look like Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Use a realistic style and a dark, limited palette.

Artists were often also scientists during the Renaissance. Make scientific sketches about nature. Use pencil or charcoal, elaborate detail and label the parts of your plant or animal.