Explore the Nutracker
The Story and Characters
Watch and Listen
The Nutcracker is one of the most-told Christmas stories every year. Watch this this read-along video storybook to listen to the story, whether it’s your first introduction to it or your 100th!
Draw A Scene
Once you are familiar with the story, use this worksheet or grab any blank piece of paper and ask your little one(s) to illustrate their favorite scene from the story. Ask them to describe to you what is happening and also prompt them to tell you what happens right before and right after the scene to practice sequencing. The concept of sequencing (the ability to logically order events, images, thoughts, and actions) is an important skill that young children learn and it develops sometime during preschool.
Craft Your Own Characters
Create your own mini-characters for your kid(s) to play with and use to tell the story using this simple popsicle stick character tutorial. No popsicle sticks around the house? That’s ok – you can instead cut out popsicle-stick sized strips of cardboard, cereal boxes, or another thicker material so that they’re sturdy and make them with those materials instead..
The Nutcracker is one of the composer Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky’s best-known pieces of music. He creates different music and melodies for each characters, using the instruments of the orchestra to portray different scenes and stories.
You can hear the March in the virtual Tiny Tots program, but let’s listen deeper for the three distinct melodies you can hear throughout and use our bodies to show them. First, check out this video to see one classroom portray each of the three melodies. You’ll see and hear the first character, the Nutcracker, start right at the beginning. Then, six seconds in, you’ll see and hear the second character: Clara, the young girl. Then, at 1:06 in the video, you’ll see and hear the scurrying mouse king.
To explore this activity with your children:
- Listen through the piece with them and point out the changes in the music. Once you’ve listened a few times, see if they can point out when the music changes on their own.
- Practice character movements like you see in the video above or create your own for each of the three sections.
- Now, go for it: listen and pretend to be the characters as the music plays. Choose just one character or try to do them all!
Trepak is another well-known movement from the Nutcracker ballet. This “play-along” video is a fast-paced way to get older kids involved. Follow along with the moving nutcracker – every time he lands on a space with a shape, you’ll make a noise or a sound. Throughout the video, there are three different symbols the Nutcracker lands on: an orange X, a yellow octagon, and a blue oval. Choose a different sound for each shape. We suggest:
- X= Clap
- Yellow octagon= hit your lap
- Blue oval= stomp your foot
Then as he lands on each shape, make that sound to play along with the music. Good luck!
Listen to the entire Nutcracker on Spotify.