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Nutcracker Nuttiness: Resources for Teaching the Nutcracker Ballet

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s time to study the Nutcracker in music class!  My kiddos seem to think I’m just a little nutty about this classic ballet.  Some years in music class every class watches the complete Nutcracker.  Other years some classes watch portions and do other activities.  It seems that I’ve collected quite a few activities over the years and found several new ones I hope to incorporate this year.
Last year I created a bulletin board that focused on some vocabulary from the ballet.  This board is seasonal and uses beautiful clipart to present the information.  I like to leave this up as a resource during December.  Get it here.
This year students are working with listening glyphs.  I’ve created a set of Nutcracker Listening Glyphs that highlight some of the pieces the students hear while watching the ballet.  With Kindergarten and First Graders, we actively listen to a piece.  Active listening means we point at a listening map, move to the music, raise our hands when we hear parts that are the same or different and so on.  Then I pass out the glyphs and we go through them step by step.  With older students they are able to listen and answer a few questions about the piece and then complete the glyphs on their own.  Get it here.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Nutcracker-Listening-Glyphs-1562925
Here are a few other resources from friends of mine that you’ll want to grab:
Nutcracker Note Taking by Sally Utley from Sally’s Sea of Songs
In this kit, Sally sets students up for success by providing a framework for taking notes while watching or listening to the Nutcracker.   My upper elementary students can always use practice in note taking and this would be a great way to do it. 
Nutcracker Scavenger Hunt by Ginny Capps from Ginny’s MusicSpace
Oh my goodness!  This is such a great idea.  Although I love to review with my students, they really get restless just sitting down and going through worksheets and notes.  Ginny has created a clever way to review the Nutcracker AND get moving.  In this scavenger hunt students are given a sheet to record their answers that contains clues.  All around the room you place the colorful card with pictures of things like a ballerina, Tchaikovsky, pointe shoes, etc…  Students take their clues and search the room for their answers.
Rhythm Basketball: Nutcracker Edition by Shelley Tomich from Pitch Publications
FUN!  In this fun activity students “play along” to music from the Nutcracker with basketballs!  I can’t wait to try this out with my 4th, 5th and 6th graders.  Shelley has instructions for use, written lesson plans and PowerPoints to guide students through playing simple rhythm patterns to March, Trepak and the overture.
Visuals and Activities for the Nutcracker by Aileen Miracle
Wow.  This is such a comprehensive collection of activities for studying the Nutcracker!  Aileen actually has 2 sets of visuals and activities.  See the first one here and the additional one here.  In these sets you’ll find instructional presentations, rhythm activities including play-alongs, an ostinato activity, and more.  There are coloring sheets, activities for form, bulletin board visuals and lots more.  I love that there are so many options to choose from in these collections.  I could easily use these with my K-6 students.  As a teacher that has taught K-6, PK-8 and K-12 I really appreciate the thoughtful way that these activities were designed.
Nutcracker Mini-bundle of Play-Alongs and More by TonyaLeJuene
In this delightful set you’ll find play-alongs, activities for teaching form and some vocal explorations.  I just can’t wait to use her movement activities for “March” from the Nutcracker.  The kids love moving and the fact that they’ll be exploring form at the same time thrills me.  They'll be stomping and patting and learning.  Love!  This is definitely a set to add to your Nutcracker repertoire.
The Nutcracker Story Review Koosh Ball Game by Karla Cherwinkski of C Major Learning
This is such a clever activity!  I don’t know about you, but my kids love games where they get to be physically active.  They are going to LOVE tossing a koosh ball at the SmartBoard!  This game is a review of the story of The Nutcracker by Vladimir Vagin.  To play the game you open the interactive PDF (which is a seriously cool way to set this up) and find a collage of Nutcracker clipart.  Toss a koosh ball and depending on where it touches, a questions opens.  Fun!  I must admit that I have loved these little toys ever since the Rosie O’Donnell Show.  J
I Spy the Nutcracker by Jennifer Foxx of Foxx Piano StudioResources
My kiddos love to play games and I love to be sneaky and use games to reinforce what we are learning about.  This I Spy game can be played as one whole group, with individual students or in teams.  Using the Nutcracker theme students draw a card and are asked to find that symbol on the page that is displayed.   I think that the way she has set this up would make it easy to use in centers too.  I think I may add it to my December workstations after we’ve used this as a whole group. 
Composer Activities-Tchaikovsky by Joyce Moore of JoyfulMusic
This product is a goldmine of cross curricular awesomeness.  This curriculum integration tool incorporates history, math and writing activities into your music lessons.  There’s an Orff arrangement included as well as for instruments and voices.  The lyrics are pretty catchy, so prepare to go around singing it for the rest of the day!  I love how accessible all of the activities are and that there are practical ideas for using them in your classroom.
The Nutcracker MEGA Bundle by Katie Robertson of Cowgirl Compositions
Oh.my.goodness.  There are so many amazing things in this bundle that I am just not sure where to start.  This set includes 8 pieces from the Nutcracker with worksheets, animated listening maps, play alongs, assessments (that are quick and easy to do!), history and social studies connections, fun facts, a composer bio and...I'm probably forgetting some of the awesomeness.  I love the rhythm composition sheets that are included.  I also love how practical and useable each activity is during this crazy busy time of the year.
I hope you've enjoyed perusing some of my favorite activities or teaching the Nutcracker.  Feel free to comment below with some of your favorites! 
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  1. Thanks for the shout out, Tracy! Excited to check out the other resources, including yours! :)

  2. Thanks, Tracy! It's wonderful to read details of all the resources that are available!

  3. Thanks Tracy! I can't wait to dig through these resources to add to my collection!

  4. Thank you so much for all of these resources! AMAZING all the options! I need more than three weeks to add to this collection!

  5. Thanks, Tracy, for sharing my Composer Activities on Tchaikovsky. All of the resources you reviewed looked great!

  6. Thank you my dear! Perfect stuff for my little songbirds the week following our Christmas Concert!
    Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.