In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev wrote Peter and the Wolf to introduce the instruments of the orchestra to children. There is probably still no better way to do it. The story is simple yet exciting: Peter disobeys his grandfather and goes into the woods, where he sees some animals, all of whom are represented in the music by different instruments. Peter’s grandfather catches him and makes him go home. A wolf comes along and swallows the duck Peter has been watching, and then hunters come along and catch the wolf.
The first step for any study of this kind is to enjoy the story. With “Peter and the Wolf,” I hope you will enjoy the music along with it.
- Enjoy the overture while watching an Oscar-winning animated version from PBS.
- Enjoy Peter and the Wolf with stop-motion animation. This is Suzie Templeton’s updated version, and it has some dark moments. The previous excerpt would be a better choice for younger students.
- Maestro Classics lets you listen to the themes for each animal and person, and they show a picture of the instrument used. They also have nice curriculum connections.
- Give younger students coloring pages to work on while they listen.
- A simple lesson plan with sequencing strips to copy will be a good choice for primary students.
- Download a worksheet for the story designed to practice the past tense.
- A printable story sheet.
- Phil Tulga has an excellent site for Peter and the Wolf where you can hear all the themes played, read the story, and play math and music games. Give yourself some extra time to explore the site if you are a music teacher!
- “Play the Orchestra” is a simple online game from the London Philharmonia to follow up with.