From The Montessori Music Room: Fun Activities From Tchaikovsky & the Continent of Europe!


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Featuring music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is an excellent way to introduce young children to the musical heritage of the continent of Europe. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet is a familiar piece of orchestral music and has a rich array of playful music representing dances from around the world. 
Since he was a Russian composer, it works out well to bring his music to your cultural studies of Europe and Eurasia.

Young children love to see pictures of the people who make the music they are listening to! I always try to have some nice big visuals of the composer, or the musical instruments, or the dancers that explain the music we are focusing on in each lesson. 

For this lesson, I begin by showing a picture of the composer, Tchaikovsky. I am always impressed with how well young children can repeat his name after I introduce it! Then, I explain that he was born in Russia, a country in Europe.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Montessori children are fortunate to have  globes, puzzle maps and even flags, on the shelves of their learning environment. If you have these, it is nice to show the children where the country of Russia is located on the continent of Europe (or Eurasia). Then, I like to show the flag of Russia.  

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Once again when singing your "Hello Song" you can sing hello in Russian. 

I found this Youtube video that is a short & sweet lesson on how to say "Hello" in Russian. 

If you have a collection of miniature flags of the world, it is fun to play one of the marching songs from the Nutcracker Ballet and give the children flags to go marching along the "Montessori Line". 

Here are two music selections that children really like to move/march along to:

After some movement activity with Tchaikovsky music, I invite the children to sit back down and get their ears ready for listening to some more music from The Nutcracker Ballet. I always like to play about a minute of the Dance of the Reed Pipes for them because it is so familiar. 

Then, while the children are listening, I show them some of the pictures of the actual ballet from this book, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. 

The Nutcracker Ballet picture book available at Amazon

Visuals of an orchestra pit and ballet stage are also helpful for these children who have sometimes not actually seen a live orchestra.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The book cited above has wonderful photos of the ballet and I introduce the "Chocolate Dance " to the children with some visuals of Spanish dancers. 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The little ones love to hear about the "Chocolate Dance" and this is where we take out our castanets so that we can play along. You can even hear the castanets that are played in the  orchestral music.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club 

For young children, I prefer the wooden castanets from Suzuki. They have a true and pleasant sound. You can purchase them at Amazon at this link: Children's Wooden Castanets 
If you haven't yet offered castanets to your group, you are in for a real treat! Castanets are one of the very best activities for developing that important pincer grasp used in writing. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I like to include the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker because Tchaikovsky was Russian. This song is lively and has a strong steady beat for playing along. Another piece that is fun for the children is Polchinelle, The French Clown Dance.
Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

You can play short excerpts from Tchaikovsky's music according to the age and interest of your group. The Nutcracker Ballet is full of interesting sounds made by percussion instruments that children really enjoy. Just about any selection from The Nutcracker Ballet is a wonderful exploration for children to move or play along with.

Of course, featuring music from the Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, is a great addition to your cultural studies unit on Europe (and Eurasia).
Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you found some fun ideas for music activities with your group.

You can read lots more articles (like mine) from Montessorians world wide at the Montessori Monday Link-up BY CLICKING HERE: Living Montessori Now.  Deb Chitwood has posted a fun article with lots of activities using the song, "Five Little Speckled Frogs" and an absolutely adorable video of her grand daughter singing while working with the materials!

To go along with this article, you might like some of my Musically Montessori Lesson Plan Activity Packs featuring Tchaikovsky and the child-friendly music from The Nutcracker Ballet Suite.  Click on the link to  learn more:  MY TpT STORE

If you haven't subscribed for my updates, you can easily sign up on the sidebar of this blog. You'll also receive my eBook, Musically Montessori: The First Lessons, as a gift for signing up!

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There are also some lovely free resources at my Subscribers Freebie Collection that feature excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite music. I hope you and your group enjoy!

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