One of the greatest introductions for kids into the world of the orchestra and orchestral music is Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev. Kids love the story and will love to listen to the story over and over again.
The first thing I did with Sebastian was let him listen to it. I didn't talk about it at all. I just put the CD on in the car and let him listen to the piece. He loved it. After he heard the narration and music once I then focused our learning.
Lesson one: The first thing I did was talk about the story. We read a version of Peter and the Wolf as an illustrated story. You can find any version from your library and us that. This allowed him to slowly take in the story and have a visual in his head.
Lesson two: The next thing we did was talk about instruments in the orchestra. I printed out pages for him to color while he listened to the introduction of that instrument. I would also have him listen to a solo piece of the instrument. For instance, Peter is the string family. I gave him a coloring page of string instruments and let him color while we listened to Peter's introduction to the story. I then had him listen to Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and Mendelssohn's violin concerto. This gives him a chance to listen to a string ensemble sound and how one violin sounds like on its own.
I used these printables for our coloring pagesLesson three: After we talked, listened, and talked about the different instruments, we would set up the coloring pages on the floor. We listened to Peter and the Wolf again and I had Sebastian jump on the instrument that was being featured. This was Sebastian's favorite lesson. He enjoyed trying to stretch and touch two instruments at the same time or jumping fast back and forth between the instruments.
Lesson four: This was a sick day for me, so I decided to let Sebastian watch Disney's version of Peter and the Wolf
Lesson five: We talked about instruments that would fit the members of our family. We drew pictures of the family members with instruments as our bodies. This would have worked better if Sebastian was a little older. He got frustrated when he couldn't get his pictures to look right. In hindsight I would suggest using clipart of the instruments and then adding on the faces of the family members. I think that would have worked more.
There are so many more things you can do with Peter and the Wolf. If you have older kids, I recommend going here for reading worksheets you could use for more of a unit study. You could also add in Social Studies and Geography by talking about Russia and Nationalism in regards to the story. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment- I would love to hear from you!
We did this unit for two and a half weeks at the beginning of January, and we are still listening to the music in the car. This is one of the most loved music units from Sebastian. I will most likely do this unit again when he is older so that I can tie in other subjects and make it a unit study.