Nutcracker Activities for Music | Tried, True, and New

Here are some favorite lesson plans and activities for the music classroom to teach The Nutcracker Ballet plus some NEW resources to spark life into our teaching of this perennial classic.

On this page…

  1. Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)
    1. Tea Dance Video
  2. Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker
  3. Books
  4. Nutcracker Museum
  5. Lesson Ideas
    1. Unit of Study (in progress)
    2. March | Stretchy Bands
    3. Trepak | Plate Routine
    4. Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio
    5. Waltz of the Flowers
  6. Ballet Videos
    1. Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)
    2. Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS
    3. Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)

With its call and response form, this is the perfect barred instrument activity for December! PLUS, movement ideas using partners and the whole class with and without props! Ribbon sticks/wands, scarves, partner parachutes, and a classroom parachute!

Tea Dance Video

Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker

Each performance of the Nutcracker uses an artistic director who helps determine the costuming, dancing, makeup, and scenery for the ballet. The ballet dates back to a time when ethnic caricatures were standard practice in the performances. This is particularly true in Act II with the dances related to the Chinese, Arabian, Russian, and Spanish dances.

As music specialists, this is important to take into consideration if we choose to use videos in our teaching. Read more.

Here’s an excellent interview on NPR about “Rethinking Cultural Stereotypes in The Nutcracker.”

Books

Nutcracker Museum

At this school, students were asked to bring in a family Nutcracker and were put into this fun Nutcracker Museum display! (Remember to have the student’s name and room clearly labeled.)

Add this to your end-of-year evaluation Danielson (or similar) Domain 1b: Teacher-designed opportunities for families to share their heritages.

Lesson Ideas

Unit of Study (in progress)

  • K-1 Read a book about ballet and a book about The Nutcracker
  • K-1 Learn a movement routine to the March
  • Grades 2-3

March | Stretchy Bands

Trepak | Plate Routine

Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio

Waltz of the Flowers

Ballet Videos

Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)

https://www.pbs.org/video/hip-hop-nutcracker-at-njpac-an-all-arts-presentation-czdp88/

Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS

This performance is on PBS and you may need to confirm your local PBS station.

Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Encanto Song Ideas and Music Activities for Teaching Right Now

We Don’t Talk About Bruno

Let’s talk about Bruno! 🤣 Here’s a new MOVEMENT video for Bruno with the ending movement matching the contrapuntal lines of the ending. This is for parents, classroom teachers, music teachers, and anyone who

The Charm of Encanto

This original song inspired by the Spanish word, encanto, is accompanied by an Orff arrangement, Latin rhythm and melodic elements, and is a great extension to the movie craze that has swept the nation.  

It’s a perfect concert selection or classroom exploration of Latin-flavored ostinati!

Colombia, Mi Encanto

Activity Packet from Disney

This packet from Disney is amazing and has information about the characters, Columbia, nature, and music along with printable activities.

Encanto Lessons on Google Slides

Thank you Cathy for these Google Slide lessons!

Monkeys Spinning Monkeys

A bubbly, bouncy instrumental piece that is perfect for movement activities. This instrumental piece posted on Youtube in 2014 and became a TikTok sensation, reaching over 1 million plays in 2021.

 

Here you will find the piece analysis, links, and teaching ideas!

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 


Links

Composer, Kevin MacLeod’s YouTube channel with a visual representation of the song very similar to Chrome Song Maker.

Examples of how Monkeys Spinning Monkeys has been used on TikTok.

Song Download Site & Info about the song with downloadable wav files and sheetmusic.

Teaching Ideas

I’ve outlined ideas for the A, B, and C sections for movement, drums, and parachutes. A great idea for exploration and creation is to let the students create the movement, drum part, or parachute moves.

  • Divide the class in thirds and put each in charge of one of the sections. Perform the piece with each group performing on their section(s).
  • You can teach the A and B section then let small groups come up with their ideas for the C section. Share each group’s idea. Perform the entire piece with the whole group performing the same A and B and then the C will sparkle with all of the unique ideas happening at once.
  • Extend the learning by going to Chrome Music Lab’s Song Maker and have students compose an A B A C A song.


If you use any of these ideas, please comment below and let me know!