Our family was excited to review Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics. We have reviewed for them in the past, so we knew what a treat this would be!
I remember, as a kid, listening to my Peter and the Wolf record on my little, white, Holly Hobby record player. It was fun to share the story with my kids. What I didn't know was that composer Prokofiev began writing music at the age of 5! This we learned from the teaching tracks on the CD we received.
The first time we listened to it, I put it on our school room computer and listened with just my students. The second time, I popped it in the van CD player on the way to take the high schoolers to school. Their school is not very far away, but because of traffic, it takes about 20 minutes to get there in the morning, so I knew we'd have time to get into the story.
The CD begins with an explanation of which instruments represent which animals in the story. This is very helpful for kids, otherwise they may not have caught on to the meaning of the music. Then the story begins, with a few sentences being read, and then the music for that portion being played. I found an instrument worksheet for the kids to do to introduce them to different types of musical instruments.
I loved the way my older kids got into it! When they introduced the music for the cat, Sam said, "I can picture it playing with a ball of yarn!" When the duck got swallowed, he said, "Dangit! I liked the duck!" I found it interesting that this version of the story ends differently than the one I remember as a child.
In addition to being a wonderful story all on it's own, Peter and the Wolf is a fabulous jumping off point for a study of Russia. I told my kids, "My great grandparents were Germans who immigrated from Ukraine when it was part of Russia." So we looked up the Russian flag and colored maps of Russia.
I played the musical (instruments only) track of the CD while we worked on our coloring pages and worksheets.
I've mentioned that Katie has just learned the names of all the continents. Now it's time to start filling in some of the countries. She learned where Russia is on our Hugg-A-Planet.
We also took this opportunity to learn about Russian nesting dolls. I think it would be fun to paint a set of these someday.
And we learned about wolves, of course! Because of what we've been learning in science, the kids were able to deduce that wolves are vertebrates and mammals.
Maestro Classics offers curriculum guides on their website for all their fabulous tales, as well as little activity books nestled within the CD case. The curriculum guide was my inspiration for coming up with other Russia related learning activities to tie into our listening experience. One of the suggestions was to watch the movie Anastasia, which we found on Netflix and watched as a family.
If you have a road trip planned over the upcoming holidays, you'll want to check out all the great audio dramas that Maestro Classics has to offer and bring some along to keep your family entertained on the road. These classic children's musicals come in CD or MP3 form, so you can take them along in whatever form you prefer.
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