Peter and the Wolf

bbbWeekly Trip to the Library

One of the challenges of working as a nanny is finding activities my three charges (aged 3-years-old to 13-years-old) can all enjoy at the same time. But this week I remembered my favorite childhood classic Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the CD of musical themes. All three of the kids I care for thoroughly enjoyed listening to the composition and doing the accompanying activities listed below.

In 1936 Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow to write a new musical symphony for children. In this book Peter and his animal friends, his grandfather, the wolf, and hunters all have appropriate musical themes that make this piece a delight to hear.

I do not like the Disney video adaptation of Peter and the Wolf as much because it scares young kids. I prefer the classic drawings and sketches found in books about Peter and the Wolf.  I like having children focus on the music and asking young children about the characters and instruments they are hearing. I ask them questions such as: which animal sounds nicer? Does the flute that represents a bird sound nicer or the French horns used for the wolf?

I highly recommend nannies buy or borrow a copy of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. I promise that kids of all ages will learn to love this classic childhood composition. And as the children mature, they will learn to appreciate the composition in new ways.

ACTIVITY ONE: What Instrument is Each Animal?

Listen to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Notice how the following instruments are used to create a musical “picture” of each character in the story. Print out this Peter and the Wolf Matching Game to help the kids identify the animals and characters in the book.

Bird – Flute
Duck – Oboe
Cat – Clarinet
Grandfather – Bassoon
Wolf – French Horns
Hunters – Timpani and Bass Drum
Peter – String Instruments

ACTIVITY TWO: Listening Map

Click here to print out a listening guide. The kids can use ac crayon, marker, or just their finger to follow the story as they listen to it. It helps to keep their attention drawn to the music.

ACTIVITY THREE: What Happened Next?

Click here to print out the sequencing story strips. Cut out the strips. After reading the story and listening to the composition ask the kids to identify the characters and setting of the tale. Ask them to describe the events in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Have them sit at a table and put the parts of the story in the proper order. (In the book I link to the story ends with the wolf being taken back to the woods and the story strips end with the wolf being taken to the zoo. Simply change the word “zoo” to “woods” when using these sequencing story strips).

ACTIVITY FOUR: Finger Puppets

Click here to print out finger puppets from the Music Institute of Chicago. Use scissors to cut the characters out along the dotted gray line. Wrap the puppet around the kids’ fingers and tape them closed so the kids can create their own Peter and the Wolf finger puppet show.

ACTIVITY FIVE: Make Animal Masks

There are plenty of masks to print for free online. I prefer printing black and white masks that the kids can color themselves.

Click here to print a wolf mask. Click here for the free bird mask we used. We liked the cat mask you can find by clicking here. Print a duck mask after clicking here.  We decorated this mask to make Peter, his Grandfather, and the hunters.


Allow the kids to act like the characters and animals in the story and dance. The bird should be light as if they are flying, the Grandpa should make heavy steps, Peter is happy and should dance like he’s having fun, the cat should have long sleek steps, the wolf is sly and sneaky, and the hunters should march.

ACTIVITY SEVEN: Play Your Instrument

The 10-year-old and 13-year-old I care for both are members of their school bands. The 10-year-old ran immediately to his drums to try to mimic the sounds he heard while listening to the CD that accompanies the book. If a child in your care plays an instrument allow them to learn part of the piece. I was inspired enough to buy Peter and the Wolf: Piano Solo to practice on the piano myself.

Peter and the Wolf makes a great gift. Buy your own copy by clicking the links below:

Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf: With a Fully-Orchestrated and Narrated CD

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