Johann Gutenberg

Week 4: Johann Gutenberg


Read K – 6: Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press by Bruce Koscielniak

7 – 8:  Johannes Gutenberg:  The Printer Who Gave Words to the World by Stephen Feinstein

Note:  Book covers were made from leather during the Renaissance.  The Lettering used for books at this time was Gothic.


  • Who first invented the idea of printing? (Chinese)
  • How were books made before the printing press? (by hand)
  • Who wrote them? (usually scribes, monks in monasteries)
  • What was used for paper before the printing press was invented? (parchment: animal skins)
  • What were book covers made from? (leather)
  • How long did these books take to make? (months)
  • Before the printing press, could most people read? (no)
  • Name Gutenberg’s 3 important inventions?
  1. Metal type
  2. New ink that would stick to the type
  3. Press that would push paper onto the type
  • What style lettering was used during the Renaissance? (Gothic style)
  • Why were letters made in reverse? (printing always reverses the letters)
  • What was Gutenberg’s most famous book? (Latin Bible or Gutenberg Bible)

Questions for Grades 7 & 8:

  • Where did Gutenberg learn metal working skills? (At the mint where his father was an official)
  • Why did Gutenberg want to keep his invention a secret? (So others would not steal his work until he had a good business going.)
  • Why did Gutenberg have to invent a new metal alloy for his type? (Metal had to be hard enough to withstand the printing process but it also had to have a lower melting point so it could be easily cast into type.)
  • What was the first book Gutenberg printed? (Schoolbook on Latin Grammar, Ars Grammatica)
  • T/F Gutenberg printed Indulgences, papers that were sold by the Catholic church that promised people forgiveness of sins. (True)
  • Why did Fust sue Gutenberg? (Gutenberg didn’t pay him the money he owed him in time.)
  • How did Fust acquire Gutenberg’s printing press? (The court ordered that Gutenberg had to give Fust his printing press since he couldn’t pay him back.)
  • How was Gutenberg able to start printing again? (The Town Clerk gave him money to start a new printing press.)
  • Why were more people able to read after Gutenberg’s invention? (Books were printed cheaply, more became available, more people could buy them and wanted to learn; books were also printed in more languages people could understand and reading became easier.)

Activities: K – 2:  Make your own potato stamp using directions from this site: Try to create a backwards letter on one half of the potato so kids can learn how letter stamps had to be created in reverse.

3 – 5: Write your favorite Bible verse or poem using this Gutenberg font: Then, write your first and last name in reverse as Gutenberg did.  Next hold it up to a mirror to see if you’ve done it correctly (and of course, to read it!).

6 – 8: Read the article on this site about the printing press:  then, complete the worksheet that follows it.

Copyright September 27th, 2015 by Gwen Fredette


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Filed under Charlotte Mason, Exploration, Reformation, Renaissance

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