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Artfully Montessori: Practical Life Activities for Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite for Little Kids

LET'S CELEBRATE THE SEASON!  
CHILDREN WILL LOVE PREPARING NUTCRACKER SUITE  GOODIES AND WARMING DRINKS.


Recently, during the first music lesson in our Nutcracker Suite Unit, I realized how much the children loved the parts of this wonderful music from Tchaikovsky that had to do with the foods of the season. 

This time of year is always a fun time for cooking, baking,  and preparing warming teas and hot chocolate. And, little children so enjoy participating in these activities! 

So, why not connect the Nutcracker Suite music to the Practical Life area of your Montessori environment? 

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Whether  your group is planning a big event with families or a small holiday tea party just for your classroom, preschoolers can really benefit from the following food preparation Practical Life Activities that are derived from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. 

1. THE NUTCRACKER'S DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of the "Opening Scene" music of the Nutcracker Suite.

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Well, this entire music unit is based on the magical story of a girl named Clara,  and her favorite gift, a nutcracker!  Which is, of course, the first idea for a fun Practical Life Activity for the children: Using a nutcracker to prepare nuts for a yummy baking project.


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My groups have always loved having a "Nutcracker Work" on the shelf. Now, the decorative nutcrackers that are around during this time of year, are not usually sturdy enough to actually crack nuts, but you can get this beautiful crank-operated nutcracker from Montessori Services, and my groups have always greatly enjoyed using this tool. 
Available at Montessori Services

AN ALTERNATIVE TO CRACKING REAL NUTS
If you have children with allergies to tree nuts in your group, you can put this nutcracker out as a fun fine motor activity and the children can place pompoms in the little bowl rather than nuts. 

You can also offer sunflower seed grinding as another alternative to nut cracking. For this activity the children would use a small mortar and pestle instead of a wooden nutcracker. This grinding activity is available at Montessori Services.

A similar activity that children enjoy is grinding seasonal spices (like whole nutmeg, or cinnamon sticks). These ground spices could be added to your baking projects. Here is a spice grinder from Montessori Services.
These festive grinding activities add wonderful aromas to your environment and really set the mood for the season!

2. THE MOUSE KING'S  DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of  "The Battle of the Mouse King" music from the Nutcracker Suite

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This year, my music groups have really taken a liking to the Mouse King character in the Nutcracker Ballet Suite. When I tell them the story, I leave out the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. (I think this part can be a little scary for children.)

Instead, I tell the children:  "In Clara's dream, the Mouse King was gathering all the mice in the house to go under the tree and gobble up all the sweets. The Nutcracker tried to keep the mice away, but it was Clara (the little girl in the story) who had the idea to take off her shoe and throw it across the floor to scare all the mice away!"

Since mice like cheese, and cheese is a delicious food to serve with tea, hot chocolate, or home-baked gingerbread cookies, then it makes perfect sense to offer the children a cheese slicing work. 

This can be the "Mouse King Cheese Slicing Work" in your Practical Life area.

I've found that this type of cheese slice works well with little ones. Usually, children press down on the cheese placing both hands on the handle to get the leverage needed. Available at Amazon.




3. THE SPANISH CHOCOLATE DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of  the "Spanish Dance" music from the Nutcracker Suite.

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The Spanish Chocolate Dance is still the all-time favorite with my music groups! Making hot chocolate from scratch can be a wonderful Practical Life Activity for your group, and goes really well with the Nutcracker music unit when you feature the Chocolate Dance. The "Spanish Dancer Hot Chocolate Work"has lots of interesting steps for children to follow.

Children can first grate the chocolate. You can use bakers chocolate or the delicious Spanish Chocolate cakes from the Mexican Grocery.  You can also purchase a kit from Uncommon Goods. 

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When the children are ready to make the hot chocolate drink, you can provide an authentic "molinillo frother". Your home-made hot chocolate can be made with hot water, milk, or milk alternatives like soy or rice milk.

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For a special touch to your home made hot chocolate, you can garnish it with the spices that the children ground in the activity above. (cinnamon or nutmeg)


4. THE ARABIAN COFFEE DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of  the "Arabian Dance" music from the Nutcracker Suite.

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When you set up the "Arabian Coffee Dance Work," you might be surprised to find that coffee grinding ends up staying on the shelf all year long because it is so popular! 

There is something so satisfying and meditative about grinding coffee. Whole coffee beans grind so easily and smell so nice! 


Photo from Magical Movement Company

You can fill the coffee grinder tray with decaf coffee beans and the children can save the ground coffee to brew and serve to their parents on the day of your Nutcracker Celebration.

Photo from Magical Movement Company


5. THE CHINESE TEA DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of the "Chinese Dance" music from the Nutcracker Suite.

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Brewing tea is another satisfying activity for the winter season. To turn this activity into the "Chinese Tea Dance Work", I have simply added a colorful Chinese tea pot and even Chinese tea cups because they are just the right size for children. 

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For our winter tea parties, we have often added other Practical Life Activities such as cutting up lemons for the tea and also setting up dishwashing for the clean up.


                                                                           Photo from Magical Movement Company


6. THE RUSSIAN TREPAK DANCE
Click here to listen/download a recording of  the "Russian Dance" music from the Nutcracker Suite. 


Baking is probably one of the most fun Practical Life activities of the season, and creating Russian gingerbread cookies goes well with the Nutcracker music unit.

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The "Russian Dancer Cookie-Making Work" will not be something you would set up as a shelf work, but rather as a special baking project, where lots of adult helpers will come in handy. I have found that parents are happy to come in for an hour or so to bake with the children. 

These gingerbread cookies pictured below are called Kozuli in Russian. These seasonal cookies are made in the shapes of animals such as goats.

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If you are looking for a simple cookie decorating activity, you can offer "graham cracker decorating" with food coloring makers. (Amazon)  


Children also like to create little gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and cake icing. This is an involved, but fun project for a cold, wintry day!


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You can also bake Russian Tea Cakes with the children.
And, if you're in a pinch, you can buy these and the children can enjoy arranging them on pretty little doilies for your winter Nutcracker Suite tea party! 
Available at Amazon


I'm going to put in my plug here for my really fun mini-eCourse, "Musically Montessori: Nutcracker Suite for Little Kids" that is still open for enrollment to educators until November 25th. I have packed this little eCourse full of activities and mp3 music downloads! 

My music groups have already enjoyed the first two lessons from this four session course that I am currently presenting to my groups, and I am sure we will go longer than just four classes. It is fun to have a little Nutcracker Tea party around the middle of December, but I know we will enjoy this music unit on into the first weeks of January. 

Over the years, I have found that children understand the story and the wonderful music even better after the holiday season is over, since so many of them have gone to Live Performances of the Nutcracker or have seen it on TV during the Winter Break.

I invite you to learn more about my eCourse and enroll before November 25th! 



If you are a Subscriber to my Email Newsletter List, then you have gotten the special discount code for 10% off the regular price for the course.


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You can become a subscriber on the sidebar of this Blog or scroll down to the end of this post if you are on a mobile device. 

My subscribers have access to my Freebie Collection, where you will find lots of free resources including some Nutcracker Suite activities and more! 



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AND THEY ARE ON SALE 
FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS!

Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope that you got some ideas for enjoying Montessori music with your group.

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support! 




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Musically Montessori "Vlog": Puppets, Music and Kids Go Together!

SINCE THE FIRST ONE WAS INTRODUCED TO CHILDREN, PUPPETS HAVE HISTORICALLY INTRIGUED LITTLE ONES, AND YOUR MONTESSORI MUSIC LESSON IS THE PERFECT PLACE TO USE THIS TOOL!

Scroll down to watch my video for ideas to engage your children in musical activities using puppets.



TODAY'S "VLOG"
Here is a 5 minute video that shows excerpts from my eCourses to give you some ideas of how to use puppets in your Montessori Music curriculum. I hope you enjoy!

"Puppets and Making Music in the Montessori Music Lesson"





STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS WITH PUPPETS
1. As always, I make sure to explain to the children that the musical stories that we are learning about have some imaginary parts. (However, I still steer clear of stories with talking animals, monsters, and super heroes.) Some of the stories I have featured in my eCourses are Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite" and Mozart's "The Magic Flute". 

2. I adapt the musical stories that I introduce to the children, and I avoid the parts about sword fights, or scary dragons. You can see  the details of how I do this in my eCourses.

3. When I am using plush puppets (as compared to stick puppets) I always show the children how I put my hand or finger inside the puppet and that is how it moves.

4. Whenever possible, I create a shelf work so that each child can make their own puppet to go along with the musical story.


RESOURCE LINKS FOR PUPPETS

Here are my favorite resources for creating Nutcracker Dancer stick puppets with the children:


Sarah Jane Nutcracker Puppets on Etsy




Nutcracker Super Bundle at TpT




Animal Puppets from Folkmanis







My granddaughter in Japan made the templates for the delightful "Papageno & Papagena" stick puppets in the above video. 


That set of puppets is one of the many beautiful downloads in my first eCourse, Musically Montessori: "First Twelve Weeks."




My newest eCourse  Musically Montessori: "Nutcracker Suite for Little Kids" is a "mini course" consisting of four sessions to give you a magical music Unit to celebrate the season. 



Get my 10% Off Coupon in my latest email to all my subscribers!

Not a subscriber yet?
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When you become a subscriber, you will receive the password to access my Freebie Collection...more than 30 free resources including my eBook. ($12.99 value) 

And, I am adding more free resources every month!



I am happy to have you visiting my blog today and I hope that you got lots of ideas for using puppets in your music activities with your group!


Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support! 









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Carolyn's "Nutcracker Dancing Song" Circle Game. It's Musically Montessori!

JUST ABOUT EVERYONE LOVES THE MUSIC FROM TCHAIKOVSKY'S "NUTCRACKER SUITE," AND LITTLE KIDS WILL ENJOY THIS QUICK AND EASY CIRCLE TIME ACTIVITY FROM MY UPCOMING MINI-ECOURSE! 


Got kids? Got space to move? That is all you need!




Watch my one-minute video and learn how to do it! 




THE NUTCRACKER BALLET STORY

~ First, I like to introduce the children to the Nutcracker Ballet Suite by telling them the story of the ballet. There are many picture books, recordings, and videos that tell this story in many ways and for many different age groups. 

Here are some of my Nutcracker Ballet posts filled with resources from around the web:






Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created a magical story, put it to music, and then a beautiful ballet emerged!

From "The History of Nutcracker" from the Moscow Ballet website:
The origin of the Nutcracker, a classic Christmas Story, is a fairy tale ballet in two acts centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. It was commissioned by the director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1891, and premiered a week before Christmas 1892.
Over the years,  I've presented the Nutcracker story to children in  several different ways. 

Sometimes, I have read "Nutcracker" picture books to the children. At other times, I've simply told the story and used stick puppets to engage the children. And, always, I have played short excerpts of the beautiful music when presenting the story no matter what format I choose.

One of the things I like best about this amazing ballet story, is that Tchaikovsky brought music and dance from around the world and wove it into a very delightful story that fits so well with the typical Montessori curriculum emphasizing the study of the cultures of the world.

For my upcoming Musically Montessori eCourse, "Nutcracker Suite for Little Kids," I decided to create a picture book of my own to go along with a set of one-minute recordings of the music. That way, I would have the story telling and the music integrated easily. I also wanted to make the battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince less scary for little children. And, the "Montessori-teacher-in-me" wanted to highlight the world cultures brought to life with music and dance that charms me even after listening to this story a thousand times!

My "Nutcracker Ballet Story Book" is part of the many downloads for my students in my mini-eCourse. You can print off the pages, place them in sheet protectors, and then put it all in a little binder for your Book Corner! 

Here is how I start the Nutcracker Story in my Picture Book:
Clara was celebrating the season. Her favorite gift was a nutcracker shaped like a prince.

When it was time for bed Clara held her nutcracker toy in her arms and then she fell asleep.

Clara began to dream about magical dancers who were dancing to beautiful orchestra music.
Clara's dreaming gave me the idea for my little Nutcracker Dance Song and Circle Game Activity.

The story goes on: Clara dreams about the Land of the Sweets, meets her Nutcracker Prince, and watches the wonderful dances from around the world perform a grand and wintry show!

And, I've prepared more than a dozen, one-minute music mp3 downloads that go along with the story. These orchestra music downloads also go along with Nutcracker circle time activities I've designed for the children playing rhythm instruments, marching with flags, dancing with props, and moving puppets along with the music.


MY "NUTCRACKER DANCE SONG" CIRCLE GAME
First, gather the children together and invite them to play a Nutcracker Dancing game!
  • Introduce the "Nutcracker Dancing Song" to the children by singing it through once. Then, invite them to practice it by singing along with you a couple of times.
  • Say: "Here is how the game goes. Everybody please stand up!"
  • Explain that there will be a child in the middle of the circle who will pretend to be the "Nutcracker." 
  • First, the "Nutcracker" will pretend to be sleeping.
  • The other children will sing the "Nutcracker Dance Song" and when they get to the line, "Show me your dance", the "Nutcracker" jumps up and makes up a dance. 
  • At the end of the dance, the "Nutcracker" chooses a new child to go in the middle and be the next "Nutcracker." 
  • That is how the game goes along until every one has had a turn to be the "Nutcracker."
EXTENSIONS
~ There can be two children in the middle of the circle. One child is sleeping (dreaming) and the other child is the "Nutcracker." At the end, they can both do a dance.
~ You can change the words to "Show me your moves" and the "Nutcracker" can make movements like jumping, hopping, etc. rather than a dance.
~ When the "Nutcracker" makes up the dance (or movement) the other children can copy the "Nutcracker's" moves.
~ You can use an actual wooden nutcracker and pass it around the circle as everyone sings the song. When you get to the end of the song, the child who is holding the nutcracker, goes to the middle of the circle and does a dance. 

TRY SHOWING PICTURES TO OFFER 
A CHALLENGE TO THE CHILDREN

~ "Can you dance like this?"

Or this?

How about this?
Yes!

Love it!
This fun "Nutcracker Song" circle game is from the third session in my upcoming mini-eCourse. 


Here are a few of the materials my eCourse students will receive in Session 3:
  • A download of the Lesson Plan for this activity.
  • My mp3 music downloads of the song. 
  • Printables that can be downloaded and used for creating a fun Shelf Work for the children that goes along with this fun musical game.
CLICK HERE to see the Lesson List from this mini-eCourse.

CREATE A MUSICAL "NUTCRACKER UNIT" 
FOR YOUR GROUP

Over the past few months, I have created more than 30 free digital resources and music downloads for my newsletter subscribers at my Freebie Collection.   

There are several free resources featuring Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite in my Freebie Collection. Along with my Montessori Magic Friday posts filled with articles, videos and activities from around the web, you can have lots of fun putting all these freebies together to create a wonderful Nutcracker music unit for your group!


NOT FREE, BUT REALLY WORTH IT!


And, of course, I would love to have you join my upcoming mini-eCourse which starts on Nov. 6th! There are already students who have enrolled and used their 20% discount that I am offering exclusively to the folks on my newsletter subscribers email list. My 20% off coupon is good for the first 10 people who enroll and there are only a few slots left for this super deal! 

If you haven't yet subscribed to my email list, it is really easy to do so right here on the sidebar of my blog.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL LIST

Thank you again, for taking the time to visit my Blog today. I hope you have fun playing the Nutcracker Song Game with your group!


Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support! 
























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