Monday, November 15, 2010

Nutcracker Theme Lesson Plans

Nutcracker Teaching Ideas:

Read a Nutcracker book while listening to the music in the background. There are so many books out there...I personally use the Scholastic version retold by Carole Thompson.

Here are a list of activities for the various parts:
Most of these activities are ones that anyone can do whether you have a musical background or not.

Miniature Overture:
  • Define overture.
  • Ask the students what mood they think this piece of music will have (happy, sad, etc.)

March of the Toys: This is pretty obvious...have students march to the beat as different toys, either their choice or one you assign.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy:

  • Click here for videos of the actual dance.
  • Talk about the celeste, the keyboard instrument that gives this dance it's unique sound. The squidoo page linked above has a great deal of information on the celeste as well as a video with great audio examples of the instrument.

Russian Dance (Trepak): Below is a picture of a listening map to go with the Trepak. I had a hard time finding an actual printable map, this is my version of a graphic I found online that was not a printable file. There are several activities you can do with this map.

  • Talk about form- AABA and the instruments they are hearing in each section. The A section is primarily violins whereas the B section is violas, cellos and reeds.
  • Have students divided into 2 groups. Use sticks/drums for the stars on the map and shakers/jingles for the circles. Then switch. Talk about dynamics as the song increases in volume toward the end.
  • Assign students A or B section, then have them move on their particular section with scarves or ribbons
  • Dance the Trepak while listening.

Photobucket Photobucket

Arabian Dance (coffee) and Chinese Dance (tea):

  • Listen then compare the differences between the two pieces.
  • Have student fold a piece of paper in half. On one side, while listening to the Arabian Dance, draw what they feel. Then do the same while listening to the Chinese Dance. Talk about how their drawings were alike or different.

Waltz of the Flowers:

  • Do a conducting exercise. Demonstrate how this song has a 1-2-3 timing by counting it as they listen. Show students the pattern for conducting in a 3/4 time. Have students conduct with the standard 3/4 time.
  • Dance with scarves pretending to be flowers.

Classics for Kids has great episodes about the Nutcracker.


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