The Nutcracker Ballet

I have adored the Nutcracker ballet since I was about 5. The story is just dreamy, Christmas perfection with candy that comes to life, a giant Christmas tree, magical gifts that dance, and a heroine that saves her prince from the bad guy, which is pretty cool- especially given that it was written in 1892! Pirouette along with me as we explore this timeless Christmas classic!

Literacy:

-Read and reenact “The Nutcracker”: I find that acting out a story is something that is just SO much more fun than a simple retelling (but also works on your little’s retelling skills!) We read one of our various copies of “The Nutcracker” from the library, then we each picked characters and acted out the story together. The best part was when my 5 year old ran and got the fluff from the sewing kit and a pirate patch to make a Godfather Drosselmeir costume! hahahaha

-Nutcracker write the room: I made this Nutcracker write the room activity, printed it, laminated the parts you hang up…hung them up, then had my 5 year old go around the room and write the names of each character on the table using a clipboard.

-Punch-a-Bunch Nutcracker questions: I did this for the first time last Christmas season during Grinch week and my littles loved it! It hasn’t lost any of it’s magic because after doing it again, my 3 year old requested we do it next week too! hahaha So you print out these Nutcracker comprehension questions I wrote up, cut them apart, fold them and put one each in a paper bowl. Cover the bowl with red or green tissue paper and tape it in place, then use packing tape or painter’s tape to hang them on the wall. Have your littles take turns punching them open carefully and taking out the questions. Read the questions for them, then have them answer.

-N is for Nutcracker: I printed these N is for Nutcracker writing pages from PreschoolMom.com and had my littles practice writing and coloring neatly.

-Writing prompt: What would you do if you went to the Land of the Sweets.

-Nutcracker booklist: Here are a few good versions we read this week.

Math:

-Shape nutcracker: I cut out the shapes my littles would need to build a nutcracker, then gave them oral instructions on how to glue the pieces together using shape and color words.

-“Growing” Christmas tree measuring: In “The Nutcracker” the Christmas tree grows and grows- building on this event from the story, I printed several different sized Christmas trees (you can just change the percentage/scale for the picture when you go to print), then had my littles use Unifix cubes to measure the trees.

-Nutcracker number comparison: I printed these nutcracker number comparison pages from PreschoolMom.com, then had my 3 year old point to which group had more. My 5 year old, who has some experience comparing numbers, used a nutcracker like a “greater than, less than” symbol between the nutcrackers to show which group was bigger. Then we read the number sentence together (ie. 3 is greater than 2 or 4 is less than 5).

-Snowflake symmetry: When Marie and the Prince go to the Land of Sweets they travel through dancing snowflakes- so we decided to make some to go along with this event from the story! I hot glued 3 popsicle sticks together for my littles, then we discussed what it means when something has symmetry or is symmetrical (the same on both sides). Then I gave my littles stick on gems and had them make their snowflakes symmetrical. I added string on the back when they were done and we put them on our Christmas tree.

-Snowflake “one more”: I got this activity idea from Living Montessori Now and thought it was a clever twist on a roll and cover. So you print out the Dance of the Snowflakes: One More page I made, then have your little roll a dice, figure out what number would be one more than what they rolled, then have them cover that number with a snowflake sequin.

Science/Social studies:

-Watch “The Nutcracker”: I mean- can you have Nutcracker week without watching the ballet? I’m counting this as a virtual culture field trip! LoL We watched the version “Nutcracker: The Motion Picture” which came for free on Amazon Prime and was pretty good!

-STEM build a growing Christmas tree: For this activity I made a pyramid of blocks with 3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, and 1 on top. Then I gave my littles the challenge to make the tree “grow” by adding blocks but keeping the same tree-like shape.

-Types of nuts: I made a page with various nuts on it then introduced each type of nut to my littles. Then I had them sort the nuts. When they were finished, I had them crack each one open to explore it, and of course taste it! I got this idea from (Be cautious of any nut allergies that may be present when doing this in a classroom setting).

-Spinning experiment: For this activity you have your littles spin around as fast as they can for a good 5-10 seconds. Then have them stop and describe how they feel. Explain that the sensation of dizziness comes from the fluid in your inner ear continuing to spin after you’ve stopped. You can demonstrate this by swirling a water bottle then stopping it and observing the water inside. Then, explain that ballerinas keep themselves from getting so dizzy when they spin by “spotting”. Spotting is when you keep your eyes on a fixed object, turn your body until your head can’t look at the object anymore then whip your head around to look at the object again. Have your littles watch this super short video on spotting if you don’t know how to demonstrate it, then have them try it themselves and see if it helps keep them from being as dizzy. I got this activity from Children’s Museum.

-The history of nutcrackers video: We watched a video on How Nutcrackers are Made to learn a little bit about how they’re produced.

Art:

-Ballerina 3D picture: I printed a ballerina coloring page, had my littles color it then add sequins to her bodice. Next I gave them each a strip of tulle fabric (the stuff ballet tutus are made of) and had them cut it into 2 inch sections. I hot glued the sections to their ballerina’s waist band and hello cutest picture craft ever!

-Nutcracker toilet paper tube craft: I had my littles paint 5 stripes on a toilet paper tube (to the best of their ability- I did one too as an example) then we added faces to make mini nutcrackers!

-Sugar Plum fairy ballet class: Sooooo I’ve done ballet on and off since I was 5. I’m far from professional, but I do know enough to teach a beginning class, so I busted out one of my old recital costumes and filmed while teaching my littles a dance to “March” from “The Nutcracker Ballet”. You can access it here on YouTube to learn along with your little- it’s a pretty good work out! LoL

-Nutcracker free dance: After our little class I put on the soundtrack to “The Nutcracker” and let my littles free dance- I often forget, dance is also a form of art and expression (plus it’s a blast!)

-Nutcracker hats and sashes: We used construction paper and crepe paper to make Nutcracker costumes for imaginary play!

Extras:

-Nutcracker matching: I printed these nutcracker cards from PreschoolMom.com, laminated them then had my littles use them to play “Memory” (ie. you flip them all face down and have your littles take turns turning 2 over to try to find ones that match)

-Letter of the week: Ll, each day we do a different activity focused on our letter- introduction/have your little practice it on the chalkboard (or white board), think of words that start with the letter and make a list, workbook letter writing practice, workbook word writing practice.

-Word of the week: my, each day we do a different activity focused on our word- introduction/sound the word out/have your little practice writing it on the chalkboard or whiteboard, word family list- think of other words that rhyme with your word of the week, use the word in a sentence (have your little come up with the sentence and write it for them) then have your little illustrate the sentence, and workpage practice.

-Bible verse: This month’s Bible verse is “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Isaiah 9:6 I write each word in the verse on a post-it, stick them to the wall then have my little point to each word and read it each day all month.

-Character trait of the month: generosity…this word is reviewed and posted at the start of the month then each time one of my littles freely demonstrates generosity I use the word to specifically praise what they’re doing and encourage the trait in them. (ie. “You shared your cookie without being asked! That was so generous of you!”)

Supply/shopping list:

  • bowls
  • tissue paper (red and green)
  • popsicle sticks
  • stick on gems
  • sequins
  • Unifix cubes
  • snowflake sequins
  • blocks
  • crepe paper
  • tulle
  • toilet paper tube
  • assorted nuts in their shells
  • a nutcracker (one that functions, not a decorative one- though that would be cool too!)

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