Musically Montessori: "Little Kids and The Nutcracker Ballet Suite"


'Tis the season again, and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet is a wonderful treat for children and adults. If you are planning to take your young child to a performance,  I highly recommend familiarizing yourself and your child with the music as well as the story before attending the event.
I found a wonderful site for purchasing a lovely download of the ballet characters in puppet form here:

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I made these Sarah Jane Studios stick puppets for my preschool music classes and then I was able to use them to tell the story the way I thought most appropriate for the varying age groups. 

In the story of the Nutcracker, Clara and her brother are very excited about the big holiday party at their house and both are thrilled when they see Uncle Drosselmier arrive! He is a toymaker and always brings fantastic toys for the children. However, Clara's brother, Fritz, gets jealous of Clara's special nutcracker toy and he ends up grabbing it, calling it "ugly",  and throwing it across the room. 

As a result, the nutcracker gets a cracked head and Clara has to tie a red ribbon around to repair it. At this point, I added my own part of the story saying that when Fritz realized his misdeed, he apologized to his sister. 

For the older children, I included the "Battle Between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker" and played a little of the "battle music" because it is so dynamic! 

However, I changed the story line:
"In Clara's dream, there was a 'Mouse King' dancer who led all the little mice to rush under the tree and gobble up all the sweets. The brave Nutcracker dancer leaped over and tried to scare the mice away. But, they are back! That is when Clara took off her shoe and threw it across the room. The loud sound did scare all the mice away! Let's listen for that loud crash when we listen to this part of Tchaikovsky's music..."

For the younger groups (2's and 3's) I skipped the "battle" completely and went straight to Clara falling asleep with her nutcracker toy in her arms and then dreaming of him turning into the Prince from the Kingdom of the Sweets. 

Then, the story can quickly move to the part about the big celebration at the Prince's castle and the little children seemed to enjoy hearing about the dancers (and seeing the puppets): The Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy, "Chocolate" the Spanish dancer, and the dancers from the land of Chinese Tea and Arabian Coffee. I played very short excerpts of these dances, so that the children would hear the wonderful music, but would only have to sit attentively for no longer than five minutes. 

I told the children that after the special dances, the Prince and Clara traveled back home in a magic sleigh and then Clara woke up from her dream and found her nutcracker safe in her arms. 

Finally, we got the triangles out and played along to some simple piano versions of songs from the ballet. 
The music downloads I used are:
Over the past 2 weeks I have also played excerpts from the following for movement fun:
Lots of holiday fun with a little classical music appreciation too!

If you would like to learn more about how I present the Nutcracker Ballet Music to preschoolers in a Montessori way, I invite you to check out my Musically Montessori eCourse, "Nutcracker Ballet Suite for Little Kids." It's a four-week curriculum filled with lots of holiday musical fun for Preschoolers. 

I am so happy to have you visiting my blog today! I hope that you have found some fun musical activities for your group.

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