Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace introduces readers to the Russian aristocracy of the early 19th century during Napoléon’s rise to power and his subsequent attempted invasion of the country. The novel is told through the points of view of five important Russian families dealing with the effects of war on their land, homes, families, and ways of life. This stunningly complex work of historical fiction comes to life in an epic three-network event starting January 18, 2016 on Lifetime, HISTORY® and A&E.

These lesson plans, appropriate for both ELA and Social Studies classes, ask students to explore the themes and characters of the novel supported by the series to gain insight into the period of history in which the novel takes place.

Students will:  

  • Discuss the period of history in which Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace takes place;
  • Learn about Napoléon Bonaparte and his Grande Armée;
  • Think critically about the events of the years between 1805 and 1813;
  • Learn how to determine tone by analyzing diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax (DIDLS);
  • Learn about the novel War and Peace and Leo Tolstoy’s life and achievements to use as background information when determining the novel’s tone.


Teacher Instructions and Student Worksheets

Russia: A Thorn in Napoléon’s Side
Using the time line provided, students will learn about Napoléon Bonaparte, his Grande Armée, and the invasion of Russia in 1812. Students will use a map to plot the movements of Bonaparte’s attack and the experiences of the Russian people between 1805 and 1813.




Tone in Tolstoy
After reading background information about Leo Tolstoy and his novel War and Peace, students will learn how to determine tone in writing. The student worksheet includes two excerpts from War and Peace for student analysis.






War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Learn more about the book


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