Children's Classics of Classical Music

A few months ago I wrote out some Jazz resources of some great books that I have used in the classroom!  You can check it out here!

Recently, a thread was started in a FB group about how awesome Peter and the Wolf is in learning about classical music.  The poster asked if there were other resources out there and I thought I would share some of my favorites from my classroom teaching days as well as resources that others have shared!  The links I've provided are affiliate links to Amazon!  If you purchase through the link Amazon will put a few pennies aside for our homeschool book fund! We would be so grateful!  There are also some youtube links and website links to help you find amazing resources for your homeschool!

Prokofiev

Let's start with the first and obvious pick - Peter and the Wolf.  There are so many resources out there to expose your kids to this great piece of music education!  Probably my favorite would have to be the LEONARD BERNSTEIN narration.  What better way to expose your kids to this amazing work than through listening and allowing them to form their own pictures in their imagination!  I actually would play the CD and then show kids in my classroom the pages from THIS BOOK.
Another resource is the DISNEY video.  It has a cute ending - you can form your own conclusion if you think it is a good thing! :)
There is a wonderful realistic animation that you can watch HERE but I would recommend it only for older kids.  Unless you think your kids would be fine!  It does seem pretty dark in some spots.
And don't throw stones.....I actually think THIS VIDEO by Sesame Street is actually pretty cute!  I love the way they talk about concert etiquette for kids as well!
The final recommendation I have for Peter and the Wolf is THIS VIDEO by Jim Gamble.  You'll see me recommend his other videos in some other selections as well!
Although this isn't technically a resource geared toward young kids, I found THIS VIDEO of Disney and Prokofiev fascinating! :)

Saint-Saens

After Peter and the Wolf I would say that Carnival of the Animals is the next most popular children's classic in orchestral music.  My favorite resource is not available to buy, but you can watch it on Youtube HERE.  It is the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck show reciting Ogden Nash poetry between each selection.  It almost has a Fantasia feel to the selections.  And who doesn't love Michael Tilson Thomas?!  He's soooo young in this video!
My next favorite would be the John Lithgow CD and BOOK!  I love anything that John Lithgow does. He has such refined humor!  In fact, I'll also recommend his book "The Remarkable Farkle McBride" later on in this post!
JIM GAMBLE also has a video for Carnival of the Animals with puppets!

Britten


The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is another classic that kids should know. However, this one is a bit long in one sitting.  There's not really a story that goes along with the composition, but you can learn a lot from the performance by LEONARD BERNSTEIN in the Young People's Concerts!
There is a BOOK as well that you can look through while listening!  This may be for more of your mature kids that can handle sitting down and listening.  If you have younger kids I do recommend THIS WEBSITE to play interactive games with the piece!  My son did this game last year and LOVED it!!!  It is a lot of fun and educational!

Grieg

 

Peer Gynt is one of my favorites because there are so many fun activities to do with the song "In the Hall of the Mountain King!"  I love the story behind the suite and there are quite a few resources to pull from!  My favorite is the VIDEO by Jim Gamble and his puppets.  I feel like it is probably the closest you'll get to the real thing of listening to the music and hearing the story narrated.  There's also the CLASSICS FOR KIDS audio program!

Tchaikovsky

 
The Nutcracker is a classic that every child should know!  There are many resources that I have loved using in the past!  THIS VIDEO is probably my favorite! There is also the JIM GAMBLE video with puppets.  MAURICE SENDEK is my favorite storybook version and there is even a cute VIDEO based on the artwork of Sendek.  The very best option for learning this music is to attend the ballet in person!

Swan Lake is another Tchaikovsky ballet!  THIS FILE is from a site of many amazing records that can be downloaded and listened to! Check out all the titles HERE!  The file above also has Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty ballet.  For some picture books to go with Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty CLICK HERE and HERE

Humperdink

Hansel and Gretel is an opera and JIM GAMBLE has a puppet version of the story with the music that your kids might enjoy!  For a picture book CLICK HERE!  (There is also some audio storytelling on THIS PAGE for the story!)

Other resources:

The Maestro Classics are always recommended by families!  I haven't used them but they look awesome!

Some of my other favorite children's classics for orchestral music can be found with the following books:

REMARKABLE FARKLE MCBRIDE

ZIN! ZIN! ZIN! A VIOLIN

NEVER PLAY MUSIC RIGHT NEXT TO THE ZOO

THE COMPOSER IS DEAD (older kids)

TUBBY THE TUBA

I hope that gives you some fun places to start as you discover the orchestra and classical music with your kids!!!
-RaeAnna

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