Nutcracker Study Lesson Plans



This is a 5 day Nutcracker study for, approximately, 5th grade that I designed specifically based on the books available to us from our library and the books we have at home.  There aren't any page numbers used in this plan, so you could substitute other books or even use fewer.

We are using the study for the following subjects:  Reading, Literature, History, Writing, Spelling, Music and Art. However, please be aware this isn't a rigorous study.  It is meant as a fun December study that incorporates multiple subjects.  The versions of the Nutcracker below are all pretty simple, but it's not the difficulty of reading that is the point of this study.

Our personal study will end by attending a performance of the Nutcracker by Saint Louis Ballet.  However, if you can't attend the ballet, it is available to watch online, as well as there are many DVD versions available.

I started with a free online Nutcracker study guide / outline to get my ideas going.  It looks to be geared toward children younger than Amber, but it gave me a starting place for our study.

Books Used:
1) Getting to Know The World's Greatest Composers - Peter Tchaikovsky
2) Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann, translated by Maourice Sendak (read aloud)
3) The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin
4) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Gail de Marcken
5) The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
6) The Nutcracker by John Cech
7) Nutcracker Ballet Coloring Book - but any online printables are fine.  I received this as part of a 4-for-3 deal on Amazon.  But I like it because it does have a small summary of the story included on the coloring pages.`


Lesson Plans:

Day 1:
Reading -  Read the story outline, as provided on The Nutcracker Ballet's website. Listen to Classics for Kids - Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker retelling (if available. They seem to be replaying the Tchaikovsky shows right now, so the main Tchaikovsky page, may be short links. You can search the site for items. Also, try this direct link to the retelling).  Work on one of the coloring sheets while listening. 
Spelling - Define the following words, from the Nutcracker:  brandishing, dozen, plump, whiskery (referring to the grandfather’s beard),  pastry,  gossiping,  scuffles (this is what the mice were doing) cloak, mended.
Literature - Read aloud from the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann. Will need to complete the entire book over the duration of the study, so break it up accordingly. Student may work on a Nutcracker craft or coloring pages during this time. 
History - Read composer book, Getting to Know The World's Greatest Composers - Peter Tchaikovsky.  Make an outline of interesting details from his life and begin work on timeline project. 

Day 2:
Reading - Read Book Number (3), The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin.  Write 3 paragraph compare / contrast essay using this book and the story outline from day 1 and the Classics for Kids retelling of the story (assuming it was available). 
Spelling - Define the following words from the Nutcracker: Fragrant, Boughs, Inventor, Careless, Collar, Scampering, Leering, Brocade, Beckon.   Be sure to note any words in reading that are unfamiliar.
Literature - Read aloud from the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann.  Student may work on a Nutcracker craft or coloring pages during this time.
History - Listen to Classics for Kids - Tchaikovsky- About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  Read bio page from Classics for Kids.  Outline new details from his life and add to the timeline project.
Music - Listen to Overture and March from the Nutcracker Ballet website. Complete coloring pages while listening, if possible coordinate coloring pages with music.  Talk about what you hear happening in the music. 
Art - Each of the books selected, excepting The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann, translated by Maourice Sendak, have wonderful illustrations all in different styles.  Each day discuss the artwork in the reading book and have the student select one page to write about.  The student should write 1 - 2 paragraphs detailing how the artwork on the selected page tells the story without the words, just as the music tells the story without words.  There are no wrong answers, this is all subjective.

Day 3:
Reading -  Read book number (4), The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Gail de Marcken.  Write a 3+ paragraph compare / contrast essay using this book and the previously read stories and outlines.
Spelling - Use first set of spelling words, correctly, in a complete sentence.
Literature - Read aloud from the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann.  Student may work on a Nutcracker craft or coloring pages during this time.
History - Listen to Classics for Kids - Tchaikovsky - Ballet.  This is details on the history of ballet and how it has been used.  Student should write a brief outline of main points and place any major dates on the timeline project.  There is also an additional history of ballet to read.
Music - Listen to Sugar Plum Dance and Russian Dance.  Use the Listening Map for the Russian Dance.  Complete coloring pages while listening.  Talk about what you hear happening in the music.
Art - Each of the books selected, excepting The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann, translated by Maourice Sendak, have wonderful illustrations all in different styles.  Each day discuss the artwork in the reading book and have the student select one page to write about.  The student should write 1 - 2 paragraphs detailing how the artwork on the selected page tells the story without the words, just as the music tells the story without words.  There are no wrong answers, this is all subjective.

Day 4:
Reading -  Read book number (5), The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers. Write a 3+ paragraph compare / contrast essay using this book and the previously read stories and outlines.
Spelling - Use the second set of spelling words, correctly, in a complete sentence.
Literature - Read aloud from the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann.  Student may work on a Nutcracker craft or coloring pages during this time.
History - Read about the Nutcracker Ballet, and outline any new details.  Also add new items to the timeline project.
Music - Listen to Arabian Dance & Chinese Dance. Complete coloring pages while listening.  Talk about what you hear happening in the music.
Art - Each of the books selected, excepting The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann, translated by Maourice Sendak, have wonderful illustrations all in different styles.  Each day discuss the artwork in the reading book and have the student select one page to write about.  The student should write 1 - 2 paragraphs detailing how the artwork on the selected page tells the story without the words, just as the music tells the story without words.  There are no wrong answers, this is all subjective.

 Day 5:
Reading - Read book number (6) The Nutcracker by John Chech.  Write a 4+ paragraph compare / contrast essay using this book and the previously read stories and outlines. Also include which version is the student's favorite and why.
Spelling - Test over words.  Include anywhere from 3-5 sentences as dictation, using as many words as possible.  It depends on the abilities of the student, how many and how complex the sentences need to be.
Literature - Finish read aloud from the original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann.  Student may work on a Nutcracker craft or coloring pages during this time.
History - Learn about the Celesta.  Outline details of importance and add to timeline.
Music - Listen to Dance of Reeds and Waltz of Flower. Use the Dance of Reed Pipes Listening page. Student may complete coloring pages while listening.  Talk about what you hear happening in the music.
Art - Each of the books selected, excepting  Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A Hoffmann, translated by Maourice Sendak, have wonderful illustrations all in different styles.  Each day discuss the artwork in the reading book and have the student select one page to write about.  The student should write 1 - 2 paragraphs detailing how the artwork on the selected page tells the story without the words, just as the music tells the story without words.  There are no wrong answers, this is all subjective.

Nutcracker  Craft:
We have a couple of Nutcracker crafts purchased from Michaels.  One is a foam nutcracker to be assembled, and other is the wooden clothes pin nutcracker craft.  You can find instructions for these online and simply purchase the needed supplies.  Any craft you like can be used.

Additional Music:
We also are using an Elementary / Intermediate book of Nutcracker piano music in my daughter's piano lessons right now.  This is just total luck that she fits the skill level of the book and takes piano lessons from me.  Otherwise, this is not something that would be as easily added in. 


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