The Renaissance was a vital cultural movement that spanned across three centuries. During this time, literature, philosophies, the arts and sciences flourished as the invention of the printing press aided in the quick propagation of ideas. Renaissance faire projects for middle school students help young people learn about the origins of inventions, fashion, language and schools of thought.
During the 14th through 17th centuries, people prepared and preserved food differently than today because of the lack of modern conveniences like refrigeration and electricity. For a project, a student explains the differences in regional cuisine during the Renaissance and how the people did without the technologies of today. For example, many people kept chickens to have fresh eggs and a cow for the milk. The young person also prepares traditional recipes used during the Renaissance for peers and spectators to sample.
During the Renaissance, there were laws about what people could wear and the cost of fabric. Consequently, the upper and lower classes had distinctly different fashions, bringing about new trends in luxury goods. For a project, the student draws the fashions that developed during the Renaissance or sews relevant doll-sized clothing, like the different caps, gowns, hoses and trousers. She also offers fabric samples of types of materials that the upper and lower classes used for their clothes.
The English that people spoke during the Renaissance has many similarities to today’s language. For a Renaissance faire project, a student draws up a chart that compares the words and phrases used today to those used during the Renaissance. The chart includes forms of address, like “lord,” “lad,” “lass” and “cousin.” For this project, the young person also finds Renaissance-era songs that people still sing today and those that are similar to modern songs by contemporary artists.
Discoveries of the Renaissance Period
The Renaissance was the age of breakthroughs, from the invention of Galileo’s pendulum to Columbus’ discovery of the New World. As a project, a student highlights some of the most important discoveries and inventions, explaining how they’ve developed into what people know and use today. Inventions can include Gutenberg’s printing press, eyeglasses and lenses, Sir John Harrington’s flushing toilet and clocks. The student also examines thought leaders who developed plans for inventions, but couldn’t make them a reality. An example can consist of Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas for submarines and flying machines.