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The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Curriculum Guide

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Curricuum Guide
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide

Fritz was the Sorcerer's Apprentice. An apprentice is a student learning under a professional in a specific line of work. Apprenticeships have been around for thousands of years, often with fathers or grandfathers passing on their knowledge and expertise of a certain skill (blacksmithing or woodworking, for example). In other circumstances, a teenaged boy would be sent to live with a tradesman and learn a trade that would eventually become his career. This meant cheap labor for the tradesman, and education for the youth. It was a win-win situation!


  • If you could apprentice under someone in any career, what would it be and why?


  • Apprenticeships are not as common now as they used to be. Why do you think that's the case? Do you think careers are better learned as an apprentice or through schooling as we have it today? Why or why not? Once you have discussed this a bit, try to argue from the other perspective.


  • In a dark part of American history, a time ruled by fear of witchcraft and the supernatural, a place called Salem, Massachusetts, responded to fears by trying many people accused of witchcraft in a court of law, and executing some who were found guilty.

 Learn more about this time with these resources:

  • Discovery's site has interactive historical information and teacher tips and resources.


  • The Crucible ( is a play about the Salem Witch Trials by Arthur Miller. Here is a link to the summary of the play (7+).

  • Read The Witch of Blackbird Pond (, about a girl who moves to a Puritan community in Connecticut in the 1600's, and is in danger of being branded a witch because of her differences. 


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  • The brooms worked for the Sorcerer to bring water to the well. Water is necessary for life on earth and it is the only substance that occurs naturally in nature in solid, liquid and gas forms. Let's learn more about it!​

  • Learn about the physical properties of water: The changing state of water & movement of water molecules​​


  • Reader's theater-  "This 10-minute reader's theater play traces water in its never-ending cycle.  Students read the script as they perform the play.  Neither props nor scenery is necessary.  There are 19 characters, but in a small class, students can easily play more than one part.  The students could even write their own water cycle adventure."




  • Here is a link with experiments for older children.





  • While stories of working brooms with arms and legs and magical incantations may be only fantasy, there was a time when "alchemists" tried to do magical things like make gold out of lead. In medieval times, there was little understanding of physics and chemistry, and the scientific method (here is a video on the scientific method) had not yet been formulated. Alchemists never succeeded in turning any common metal into gold, but they learned a lot in the process of trying! In China, alchemists even discovered gunpowder with one of their experiments!  Read about alchemy in this article. What are the other things alchemists tried to find or accomplish?



Dukas was a French composer. You can read about his country (France) on this website.



  • Print out this map of France. Get out an atlas and label the capital (Paris), the neighboring countries, major rivers and bodies of water, and geographical features that are important.''

  • ​​Print out the flag and color it in. France has red, white and blue in their flag just like we do. Read about the meaning of the colors in this article. Not everyone agrees what the colors mean!  

  • France is famous for its elegant and creative cuisine. Explore this website and find a couple of recipes to try. 



  • Purchase and play the game "10 Days in Europe" to learn more about, and practice, your European Geography. Europe was the center of Western art and music in the times of Dukas and Goethe, and still plays a main role in the development and celebration of the arts.


  • Play this online game to test your European Geography knowledge



  • Goethe, the poet who wrote the version of the Sorcerer's Apprentice most similar to the story on our CD, was from Germany.  You can read about Germany at this website.



  • Here is a German flag and some activities to go along with it.


  • Print out this map of Germany, get out your atlas, and label the capital (Berlin), the neighboring countries, major rivers, and any other geographical features you find.

  • Make some German food! Find some recipes on this website such as german sausage, potato pancakes, and apple dumplings. Have your meal with some Schubert, Beethoven or Wagner CDs playing in the background.

Language Arts
Language Arts

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  • Goethe was a very well-known German poet and playwright in the 18th century.  Read the following two poems by Goethe, then listen to the classical songs (lieder [pronounced LEE-der] in German) that Mozart and Schubert wrote to those texts.  The Violet is about a little flower who falls in love with a shepherdess as she's in the field. But the shepherdess, not seeing it, steps on the violet, crushing it. Poor little violet!  Here's the song by Mozart.

  • The Erlking is an eerie song about a father and a boy traveling on horseback through the woods. The boy is ill and keeps seeing a vision of the Erlking (and evil spirit) trying to get him. In the end the boy is taken by the Erlking and dies in his father's arms.  Here is a video of this song by Schubert. Notice the differences in the singers voice for each character- the father, boy, narrator and Erlking.



  • Write a poem in the style of Goethe. Write in a story format with narrator, like the Sorcerer's Apprentice story, "The Erlking", or "The Violet". Try to use words that convey strong emotion. Use this site's thesaurus to find powerful and descriptive words .


  • Public speaking/dramatic reading- Practice reading one of the two Goethe poems above, either "The Violet" or "The Erlking". Read it until you know it well enough to show the strong emotion in your voice and facial expression. Present it to your class or family as a dramatic reading. Use different voices for each character!

  • Can brooms really sprout arms and legs and help with household chores? I bet your mom wishes they could! In literature, writers use personification to give human-like qualities to inanimate objects. In the poem, "Wind and Window Flower", Robert Frost wrote, "The wind...sighed upon the sill." We know that the wind doesn't really sigh, but it adds life to the poem and we understand what the wind seems like to the narrator when Frost uses personification. Here are some more poems with personification . See if you can find the examples within them:

               From the Shore, by Carl Sandburg

               Young Sea, by Carl Sandburg

               Under a Telephone Pole, by Carl Sandburg

               A Vagabond Song, by Bliss Carman

               The morns are meeker than they were, by Emily Dickinson

               Now write your own examples of personification in a poem or story!


  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice learned a hard lesson about the consequences of laziness, and getting involved in things you don't understand. This story has a "moral", or a character lesson, that the actions of the apprentice teach us. There are many stories with a moral that have been told and retold throughout history.

  • "Aesop's Fables" is a collection of stories from the 5th century BC which originated in Greece. There is some disagreement about who wrote them. Some say it was a Greek slave named Aesop, others say he didn't exist and that the fables were written by numerous others of the time period. But regardless of who wrote them, Aesop's Fables have been around for a long time, highlighting lessons and morals for all of us.

  • The Ant and the Grasshopper is another story with a moral about laziness. How is the laziness of the Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Grasshopper different?

  • Here is a collection of Aesop's Fables from an art school. Students over the years have illustrated the stories in wonderful ways! Explore the stories and find one whose illustrations you really like. Describe the artwork.

  • Choose a fable to illustrate yourself and display the art in your home.

  • Now write your own fable. Make sure you include a lesson for readers to learn from the actions of your characters!


  • There are other stories that share a similar theme with the Sorcerer's Apprentice, a theme that highlights the exploits of an amateur trying to use magic or science that he doesn't understand. Check out these stories from your library and read them for yourself. Compare and contrast them with the Sorcerer's Apprentice.


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  • Watch the movie Fantasia! (There are two versions, the original and Fantasia 2000).  Walt Disney, the creator of Fantasia, revolutionized the movie industry with his animation.  Here is a biography of Walt Disney and an article about the animation steps necessary to make a movie such as Fantasia.


  • Check out some of these animation books ( and learn about the history of cartoons like Fantasia, and how they are made. Here's an online place to make animated clips.


  • Make a flip book! A flip book is a very simplistic example of traditional animation, the kind used in Fantasia. Watch this video to learn how to make your own flip book using a pen and index cards.  Here's a drawing website with some really fun characters. Use one of these in a flip book!


  • A diorama is a scenic representation with figures and a background. Make a diorama out of a shoebox, cardboard (from a cereal box, for example) and paints. Try to recreate a scene from The Sorcerer's Apprentice.


  • Dukas was from France and lived at the time of the following artists: Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Choose one or two and study their art. Get books out of the library about them and the techniques they used.  Many of these artists were Impressionists. They painted in a way that gave an "impression" of objects or scenes, but did not appear realistic, especially when viewed up close. Many of their paintings were known for the way they gave a luminous, or light-producing, effect.  Here's a lesson plan for a Monet style painting project.


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  • Did you ever get so frustrated with something you wrote or drew that you crumpled it up and threw it out? Paul Dukas was very critical of his own work and actually destroyed a number of his own compositions! He is known not only as a composer but also as a music critic. His opinions and critiques were very well respected within the music community.


  • Dukas had great skill as an orchestrator. Orchestration is the process of arranging a piece of music to be played by an orchestra, deciding which instruments should play which part. Should the melody be played on a trumpet or a clarinet? Should the background be strings or woodwinds? What instrument best fits the mood of this section? Visit this website to try your hand at orchestration. Click on the "Orchestration Station" button on the right.

Here is the First Movement of Dukas' Piano Sonata in E-flat minor.  Watch this video of a group playing the Brass Fanfare from La Peri, by Dukas.



  • The period of time from roughly 1800 to 1900 is known as the Romantic Period in classical music. This is not the definition of "romantic" having to do with love, but is related to Romanticism in art, which emphasized strong emotion and imagination. Music written during this time often was programmatic, or based on something other than the music- like a story, poem or piece of art, and pushed past many of the boundaries of previous time periods. Different types chords were used, the amount of instruments and dynamics increased, and pieces became longer.


  • Read this article to find out more about the Romantic Period and see a list of Romantic composers




  • Dukas used certain musical themes to depict events or characters in the story. The Maestro discusses many of these on the CD, such as the water theme or the appearance of the Sorcerer.


  • Composers use musical themes in many different ways. They can be very creative about how they change them to produce different effects or moods. Changing a few notes can make a happy theme sound sinister or sad, doubling the speed can evoke a panicky feeling, or make a slow theme sound more joyful. Playing it with a different instrument changes the feeling of the theme.



  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a piece of music called a symphonic poem. Symphonic poems (also called tone poems or sound poems) are programmatic, meaning they are descriptive, either of an image or a story. Many other composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries wrote symphonic poems. Here are some examples:


  • Richard Strauss, Ein Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony)- depicts the experience of climbing a mountain in the Alps. Close your eyes and imagine climbing a mountain. What do you see, smell, hear and feel? Draw a picture to go along with the music.


  • Franz Liszt, Prometheus- Prometheus is based on the Greek mythological figure of the same name. You can find the story of Prometheus here.

  • Respighi, The Pines of Rome- depicts pine trees in different parts of Rome during different times of day



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  • There was one broom which split into many brooms when the apprentice tried to chop it up. Let's say that the apprentice split the broom into four pieces and they all came to life within one minute. Then he split each of the four into four more and they each took a minute to come to life, and continued to do so. How many brooms would he have in 5 minutes? Ten minutes?



  • Send your kids on a multiplication scavenger hunt like this one


  • Here is a list of books for young children that reinforce mathematics concepts


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