Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Germany in the Renaissance {1350-1500} Ideas and Inventions

{Previous post on Germany's history: Medieval Eastern Europe (500-1500) & The Holy Roman Empire (960-1250) }

Germany in the Renaissance was bursting with ideas and inventions. Remember the relief (stamp) printing we did during our study of Durer? Now we can use those same potato stamps for another project. You can do these two projects on two different days by saving the potatoes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They keep for a few days there.

One of the most notable advances during the early Renaissance was Gutenberg's introduction of modern book printing. His invention of mechanical movable type printing played a key role in the development of the Renaissance. Among his many contributions to printing are the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period.

To give them a sense of the printing process,  I used the potatoes from the potato stamps project and made a frame for them to sit in. First  we added some water to some sand, a little at a time until it was damp enough to hold shape, like you would use for building sandcastles. We filled an 9 x13 pan with the damp sand, but you could use any sort of tray with sides. The closer the sand is to being level with the edges of the pan, the better.  Cut the backs off your potato stamps, so that they are flat bottomed.  Set the stamps in the order you want them on the sand. (Remember when you are placing them that they print backwards.) Press the stamps into the sand until the stamp faces are slightly higher than the top of the sand.  

Next we poured some tempera paint onto a plate and dipped a paint brush (you could also use a damp sponge) into it. Paint (or sponge) the paint, which represents ink, on the stamps. If you get some of the paint onto the sand, cover it with a little fresh sand.

Place a sheet of paper on the sand and stamps.

First we ran a rolling pin over the paper as if you were rolling out dough. Then we gently lifted the paper.

The print was not even.

So we next put a folded up cloth on the area where your potato prints are.

You can print as many copies of this print you would like,

or you can rearrange or move your "type" and make different prints.

They also discovered through this process that what you print comes out backwards, so you need to make your type backwards so that it will come out the way you want it. A discovery I did not have to teach but was learned through experience.

Another idea for a printing press is to use pasta glued to cardboard,

We also looked at the accomplishments of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630, Germany)

who proposed that the planets moved in an elliptical orbit, according to "laws of planetary motion." He extensively studied the orbit of Mars.

He, along with Galileo, had studied the works of Nicolaus Copernicus, (1473-1543) from Poland, who proposed the heliocentric model, with the sun at the center of the universe and not the earth.

Next post: Habsburgs


  1. What a great way to create a mini printing press...

    Your ideas always inspire me! :0)

  2. Okay, that is very cool. How do you carve the potatoes?

  3. Thank you so much Ticia, for quality control on my blog! What would I do without you? Okay, I put the instructions on how to prepare the potatoes for printing on the Durer post because that is where we made the potatoes. Follow the link for the Durer post and you will find the instructions. Thanks again.

  4. How interesting! I am looking forward to learning more about German history, since my daughter is, after all, a German citizen as well as an American one :)

  5. I come to your site and always learn something new!! Thank you.

    And thank you for sharing this on Kids Get Crafty!


  6. (PS I am in awe that you know / research all this... must take you hours, your lessons are very well prepared!!)

  7. Cool! We haven't ever done anything like this!

  8. Potato stamps are so cool!! And what a great lesson momma!!

  9. You project is lesson for learning lot of techniques


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