An Introduction to The Nutcracker for Kids - Full nutcracker unit study for kids - www.inspirethemom.com
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An Introduction to The Nutcracker for Kids

Are you wondering how you can introduce or plan a unit about the Nutcracker for kids? If so, stick around and let me give you some fun ways to teach kids about this holiday musical while introducing you to our new Nutcracker unit study.

While the Nutcracker wasn’t originally written as Christmas production, since its introduction to American theatre it has become an annual Christmas tradition, as well as, one of the most frequently performed musicals in the world.

With that being said, introducing your kids to the Nutcracker ballet is a fantastic way to introduce your kids to the arts: music, instrumentation, ballet, theatre, and more. It’s also a terrific time to learn about great story-tellers and musicians in history, whose work we enjoy to this day.

In our homeschool, we try to revisit famous artists and composers as frequently as we can. So, as Christmas approaches, let me share our Printable Nutcracker Unit Study that we are doing.

What is the basic story of the Nutcracker?

There is a splendid Christmas Eve party at Stahlbaum house. As the evening progresses, the children’s godfather, Drosselmeyer (a strange, but skilled toy-maker) gives the Stahlbaum children, Clara and Fritz, each a gift.

The gifts were two life-sized dolls. While they were both nice, Clara’s Nutcracker was the star of the party. Fritz became jealous and broke Clara’s nutcracker. Heartbroken, Clara brings the doll to Drosselmeyer. With his handkerchief and a swish of this hand, he magically repairs her new Nutcracker toy.

After the guests leave, the Nutcracker is placed under the Christmas tree and the children go to bed. Hours later, Clara gets up to check on her doll and then falls asleep under the tree with the nutcracker in her arms. And she begins to dream.

In the first dream scene, the nutcracker is alive and he is battling an evil Mouse King. Clara jumps in to help and they conquer the villain together. Next, the Nutcracker turns into a hansom prince and whisks Clara off into an enchanted wonderland of snow.

After the dancing and snow, the Nutcracker prince escorts Clara to a delectable land of sweets where they are greeted by a beautiful, Sugar Plum Fairy who delightfully dances for them.

Finally, Clara wakes up from her dream with her Nutcracker doll still tucked under her arm and it is Christmas morning.

What are some things kids can learn from the Nutcracker?

Thinking about introducing the Nutcracker to your kids but not sure where to take it? Here are some things your kids can learn from the Nutcracker experience. And also things that we will be highlighting in our Nutcracker printables.

  • Nutcracker vocabulary
  • The Nutcracker Story for Kids
  • The history of the Nutcracker
  • Ballet as a form of dance
  • About the music composer for the Nutcracker: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  • Creative writing, nutcracker poetry, and nutcracker copywork
  • Books and story adaptations
  • Christmas Traditions
  • Nutcracker fun and activities

1. Nutcracker Vocabulary

Since the focus of our Nutcracker unit is geared towards preschool through elementary aged kids, we will be exploring words like ballet, magical, snowflakes, fairy, Christmas, and more.

We are going to look at what a nutcracker is, how to use one, and what one looks like if you buy it in a store today.

Note: The printable Nutcracker Unit comes with vocabulary cards and traceable word lists.

2. The Nutcracker Story for Kids

Next, we are going to be learning the basic story of the nutcracker. Aside from reading picture books about the Nutcracker and experiencing the theater performance, our Nutcracker printables include sequencing story cards, interactive puppet cutouts, character cards, and more!

Note: this printable nutcracker unit also includes a resource list of books and music.

3. The History of Nutcracker Story for Kids

I think it’s important to touch on the history of the Nutcracker. About the original author, E.T.A.Hoffman, and how the story has been changed over time to become what we now know.

Note: The original Nutcracker story was not intended for children. The show and dance were based off of a child-friendly adaptation.

4. Ballet as a dance form

While enjoying the Nutcracker with kids, it’s a splendid time to learn about ballet. What it is, where it came from, and how to do it.

Note: If your kids have an opportunity to take a few ballet lessons, that would also be a neat experience to add to this unit!

5. The Nutcracker’s Composer: Tchaikovsky

We are also going to take a look at Tchaikovsky the world-renowned composer of Swan Lake, Sleeping beauty and The Nutcracker.

We are going to touch on his life story, his musical works, and then go over some of the unique instrumentation that he chose to incorporate in the music of the Nutcracker.

6. Creative Writing, Nutcracker Poetry, and Copywork

I like to include poetry and copywork into our units. Whether we are doing an apple unit study or a unit about winter animals, I think that poetry and copywork add a literacy component that teaches lasting language skills.

For this Nutcracker Printable unit, I’ve included an original poem that sequences and summarizes the Nutcracker story for kids. Then, there are print copywork pages to encourage handwriting practice, good sentence structure, and story retention.

7. Nutcracker books and story adaptations

We will also be checking out lots of Nutcracker picture books from the library and talking about story adaptations. (As a creative writing exercise we also plan to write an adaptation of the Nutcracker ourselves.)

8. Christmas Traditions

While the Nutcracker wasn’t originally written as Christmas production, it has evolved into a Christmas tradition around the world. Whether in a theatre on in a high school gymnasium, you will more than likely be able to find a Nutcracker performance near you.

During our Nutcracker unit we are going to be talking about this tradition as well as, other Christmas traditions enjoyed around the world.

Note: There is a printable Nutcracker advent calendar plus printable Nutcracker Christmas gift tags included in this Nutcracker Unit Study.

9. Nutcracker activities for kids

I want this Nutcracker unit to be an experience, an education, and fun. I’ve included lots of printable nutcracker activities in our unit. I’m not sure how many we will get to but I’m hoping to sprinkle them throughout our study.

Some of these printable Nutcracker activities include a nutcracker scavenger hunt, painting, word search, puzzles, preschool pages, puppets, and more!

So whether you are looking for Nutcracker activities for preschool, Nutcracker activities for kindergarten, or are wanting to do the Nutcracker unit as a family, I think you will find a little something for everyone.

Get The Nutcracker Printables on Etsy

If you want to join me and my kids this year, all of the Nutcracker printables you’ve seen and heard about in this post are included in the Nutcracker Unit Study that is now available in my Etsy shop.

What are your favorite elements of The Nutcracker for kids?

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