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The Soldier's Tale

Curriculum Guide

The Soldier's Tale Curriculum Guide
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide

The title character in the story is a soldier. Let's find out information about our own US military!

  • There are five branches of the military in the United States- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard.  You can find information on each branch of the military at Today's Military.  



  • ​Each military branch has its own song. Here are links to the songs for each branch with slideshows:


Stravinsky composed The Soldier's Tale at the end of World War I. Learn about "The Great War" with these resources:​


  • Here is a website with many links for teachers, and also for students. It includes lesson plans, power points, virtual tours, etc. Definitely worth exploring.

  • These flashcards help to learn about the events of WWI  


  •  ​Here is the military phonetic alphabet, used in part to avoid mistakes in communication especially brought about by similar sounding letter names (such as D and B, or P and T). Practice spelling your name with this alphabet. Then try to pass messages to your siblings, parents or friends.  


  • Another communications system is morse code, which is made up of dots and dashes. This system dates back to the 1830's and was invented by Samuel Morse.

  • The soldier in the story carries an image of Saint Joseph. In the Catholic tradition, there are men and women of the faith who have been venerated as saints and who have specific spiritual jobs and blessings to give. St. Joseph the carpenter, who was the earthly father of Jesus in the New Testament, is the saint of workers and labor.


  • Here are some paintings of Saint Joseph. (You only need scroll through the first 2 or three page sections to find some nice examples.)


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Science of the violin

  • The violin is a wonderfully versatile instrument. It can make many different types of sounds and is used in many genres of music from classical to country. How does it work?

  • Sound is made by a vibrating object and is carried through a medium such as air or water.  On a violin, the strings vibrate when plucked or played with a bow; the sound travels through, resonates and is amplified inside the chamber of the violin, and then travels to the listeners ear in waves.


  • Here's an article about the possibility of wood-density affecting the sound of a violin. Perhaps a Stradivarius sounds as amazing as it does due to the climate conditions in which the trees developed in the seventeenth century? Very interesting!


Music and healing

  • The story mentions the "healing power of music" when Joseph regains his violin and plays once more. Is there any truth to this claim?

  • Neuroscientists study the power of music on our health in areas of movement, stroke recovery, speech, reading skills, etc.

  • Explore the topic and career of music therapy at the website of the American Music Therapy Association.


Let's learn about the geography of Russia

  • Here is a wonderful, detailed map (with downloadable PDF format). Label the main cities, bordering countries, bodies of water, and features of the landscape.


  • Fact Monster has good information on the land, people, and government of Russia, among other things


  • Explore the Russian language and pronunciation of cyrillic here.


  • There are many links here for elementary and middle grades

  • This site has a lot of advanced information on the history of Russia, but search it for its pictures of the architecture, ethnic diversity, and landscape. For fun you can even change the text on the site to Russian.


  • Here is a nice website with Russian recipes as well as traditional stories and links to shopping.


The Soldier's Tale was composed while Stravinsky was in Switzerland. Let's learn about this beautiful country!

  • Print this map of Switzerland and label cities, bordering countries, mountains and other geographical elements.



  • Enchanted Learning has printouts of the flag, as well as a printable map of Europe to label


  • Draw an advertisement for one of these swiss-influenced products, using images of the landscape of Switzerland. Make the consumer really want to buy it! Swiss Miss hot chocolate, Swiss cheese, Swiss Family Robinson, Swiss army knife


The soldier ends up married to a princess and living in a castle.

  • Build a castle out of legos, blocks, or other medium.

  • Explore these pictures on Google. There are tons to choose from!  Explore these sites to learn about the parts of a castle and what they were used for: parts of a castle (click on the main picture for a detailed view) and castle terminology



Language Arts
Language Arts

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The Soldier's Tale is not the only one of its kind. There have been numerous stories told and retold, stretching back thousands of years, with characters who are tempted by the devil to give up something important to them for something else they desire. Here are some examples (these are stories with serious and difficult themes not appropriate for younger children):

  • The story of Job in the Bible chronicles the suffering of one man, a faithful servant of God, as the devil tries to turn him from his righteous ways and instead curse God. In this tempter-temptee story Job actually does not fall victim to the devil's schemes and God blesses his life after his suffering.


  • Faust- German poet and playwright Johann von Goethe wrote this play that has had much influence on literature, art and music over the past 200 years. In the story of Faust, the devil (Mephistopheles) makes a bet with God that he can turn Faust away from righteous pursuits (similar to the biblical story of Job). The devil succeeds in this story by tempting Faust with all manner of divine knowledge. Things don't end well for poor Faust. He ends up in Hell, a servant of the devil.


  • In The Devil and Daniel Webster (a Faustian story itself), a farmer sells his soul to the devil (who is in the form of a stranger named "Mr Scratch") in exchange for seven years of prosperity. When the time is up, he bargains for another three years, but at the end of those years the devil comes to collect. The farmer instead takes Mr. Scratch to court, and after a long court battle, wins. Daniel Webster is the attorney trying the case.

  • The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is a bit different, but it still involves temptation and the bartering for important things. Read the kid-friendly version of the story here. The full version is here.


  • Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera based on the myth. Here's the opera synopsis (a slightly different version than the myth) and here is a video of a scene from the opera. In this scene, Orfeo leads Euridice through the labyrinth out of the Underworld but can't look at her. As is common in opera, Orfeo, a male character, is played by a mezzo-soprano (low-voiced female singer) in a role called a "pants role".


  • Divine knowledge, prosperity, a lost love, a book which holds the secrets to untold wealth... What about you? Can you think up a story in which the main character, driven by a strong desire for something, makes a deal with the "devil"? What form would the devil take in your story? How would he try to woo the character into making this deal and what would the character have to give up in exchange? Would the devil win, or the human?


  • What do these stories say about humankind? Why are these things- knowledge, power, wealth- so desirable? Are those the things that make us truly happy? Discuss.


  • Write letters, and send care packages, to active troops. There are many websites you can use to find information such as Any soldier and million thanks.


  • In Flander's Field is perhaps one of the most famous poems associated with World War I. The poet was a military doctor and artillery commander, Major John McCrae. Learn more about this poem.

  • Here is a lesson plan on the poem, for older middle schoolers and high schoolers.  Memorize it and recite it. Here is a youtube song written on the text.


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Paint or draw a scene from the story. If you were to draw based on the sounds of Stravinsky's bold and dynamic composition, what colors would you use? What kind of strokes of the pen, marker or brush do you feel would express the music best?  Her are some scenes: Soldier sitting in woods playing violin, Soldier with old woman, Solider at the castle.

  • There are many paintings inspired by the Faust story. Study these and talk about them. Discuss color scheme, style, characters, mood, etc.


  • Four different Faust paintings here




Stravinsky uses the music of three different dance forms in The Soldier's Tale. Let's learn a bit about them.

  • ​The waltz is a dance form made most popular in the 19th century in Austria, though its roots go back to earlier German/Austrian dances in Mozart's time. It is always in 3 with a strong-weak-weak beat pattern. (See the discussion and links about "meter" in the Music section of the study)



  • Ragtime is a unique American musical form/dance that had its roots in the marches of John Philipps Sousa and rhythms of African music. Ragtime had its peak at the beginning of the 20th century but continues to bring joy to listeners and performers today.



  • There are many variations of the Tango, though the original tango developed in Argentina and Uruguay in the late 19th century and has influences of dances of Europe and African ceremonial dances.


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The Soldier's Tale, like much of Stravinsky's music, has mixed meter. Let's explore this topic!

  • Musical meter is the organization of beats in the measures of a piece, including both strong and weak beats. The idea of meter in music came from the concept of meter in poetry, where the term can encompass the lines, words and syllables in a poem verse.


  • ​The time signature is the fraction-type symbol in music that indicates how many beats are in a measure, and which type of note gets one beat, or pulse. In mixed meter, there may be many different time signatures, sometimes changing every measure! This can cause a piece of music to sound dynamic and disjointed, exciting and unstable all at the same time.  See examples of time signatures here along with a brief explanation

Here is an online metronome to help you keep a steady beat. Play around with the tempo, making it faster and slower. Do the following exercises to help you understand meter:  With the metronome set to 72, start walking around the room to that tempo. Walk normally at first until you feel you've gotten comfortable with the beat.  Next clap on the first of every group of 4 steps while counting (ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four, etc.)  Switch your strong beat to the first of every 3 beats instead (ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three, etc.)  Now stress the first of every two beats (ONE-two, ONE-two, ONE-two, etc.)  Each of these examples is its own meter. In mixed meter, two or more of them (and others) could be included in the same song. Try to mix them up as you walk. (ONE-two-three-four, ONE-two, ONE-two, ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three-four, etc.) It's not so easy, is it? It gives you a disjointed feel, much like Stravinsky's music. ​

  • Stravinsky used a very interesting group of instruments for The Soldier's Tale: violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion (drums, cymbals, tambourine, triangle).  Choose one of these instruments and learn about it. Use the following questions and ideas to guide you:  What is the instrument made of?  What family of instruments does it belong in?

  • Draw a detailed picture of your instrument. How would you describe its sound? How is sound created and resonated in this instrument?

Name a couple of famous musicians (living or deceased) who play(ed) this instrument

  • Research a piece or two of music written for your chosen instrument, listen to examples on youtube, and use this notebooking page to keep a record of what you've learned.


  • Here is a fun song about a fiddle player who is challenged by the devil to a fiddling duel. If the boy wins, he gets the devil's gold violin, but if the devil wins, he gets the boy's soul. Can you guess who plays the best and wins the duel?  Devil went down to Georgia- Charlie Daniels Band

  • Here is a link to a book that looks excellent for young children, and includes information about Stravinsky and Scott Joplin, among many others; and another by Mike Venezia about Stravinsky


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Money Math





  • War- the most versatile math card game


Military time conversion and activities


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