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The Nutcracker

Curriculum Guide

The Nutcracker ballet curriculum guide
Click on a subject to view its corresponding curriculum guide

Ballet is a style of dance that has its origin in Italy and France. Visit the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to learn the history of ballet.

YouTube Videos: This ballet teacher does a wonderful job of teaching in these videos:


Here is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the production of the Nutcracker at the Houston Ballet!

Ballet dancers must be in excellent physical shape. They are very conscious of their diet and nutrition, as well as the importance of keeping physically fit. Ballet takes a lot of energy, hard work and practice! Let’s learn about fitness and nutrition:

Nutrition- what we eat is important to maintain a healthy body. Here are some games, websites, and coloring pages to teach you more about how to eat well:


​Keeping fit with exercise is the other piece to the healthy body puzzle. Learn more about keeping fit:​

Active game suggestions:

  • Here are some great ABC exercise cards. We use these during our circle time. Print them out, laminate them, and then have each child choose a couple and spread them all out on the floor. Spend 20 seconds doing each exercise chosen. So fun!

History & Geography
History & Geography



  • You could spend months on this 31-Day series on Christmas around the world at So many ideas, lots of information, and links galore.



       Museum is in Leavenworth, Washington. Maybe you live close enough to go on a
       field trip!


A nutcracker is a simple machine {any of the basic mechanical devices for applying a force, such as an inclined plane, wedge, or lever}.


  • How a nutcracker works: a nutcracker is a lever. Character nutcrackers are created more to meet a need for decoration, so they do not work as well as the more functional nutcrackers, but they still have the same basic premise.


  • From ehow: “An individual must pull a lever in the back of the nutcracker down, and then the jaw of the nutcracker opens up. A nut is placed in the mouth of the nutcracker, and the lever is then pushed in the opposite direction. This brings the jaw back up and if done with enough force, the nut cracks under pressure.”

Let’s learn about levers:

Language Arts
Language Arts

Fairy Tales: A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features European folklore characters, such as dwarves, elves, mermaids, goblins, or witches, and usually magic or enchantments. Fairy tales may be distinguished from other folk narratives such as legends (which generally involve belief in the truth of the events described). {from Wikipedia}

The Nutcracker is a fairy tale by E. T. A. Hoffman. Let’s explore some other famous fairy tales and their authors.

  • The Brothers Grimm: the German brothers compiled fairy tales passed down through oral tradition. These were originally intended for adult audiences, and the original tales thus have darker plot twists than the children’s versions. Here are some of the original tales online and one of many illustrated versions.

  • Hans Christian Andersen: Andersen was a prolific Danish author, most well known for his fairy tales, of which there are hundreds. Find a chronological list here.

  • Lewis Carroll: most famous for Alice in Wonderland and its sequel

  • Charles Perrault: Perrault wrote fairy tales in the late 1600’s, based off of folk tales, and many, such as Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood, are still in our story repertoire today.

Other activities

  • This set of Nutcracker writing prompts would be a great way to have your elementary students respond to their experience with the ballet. Requires a small fee.

  • Nutcracker mad libs would be a fun way to review parts of speech.

Write your own fairy tale!


Let's Make Nutcrackers!

  • Be inspired by this cute photo (click to download .jpg) of paper towel roll nutcrackers to make your own!

  • Do you want to make really BIG nutcrackers for outside your house? Here’s a photo tutorial from HGTV.

Norman Rockwell was a “people’s” artist and is best known for his detailed paintings of everyday life in America, many of which have a Christmas or holiday theme. Click on the following links to view some of his most famous holiday paintings.

Some of the most amazing art is snuggled up and hidden in children’s books. Check out some of these books and artists from your library, or put them on your holiday gift​ wish list!

Nutcrackers {and their illustrators}:

Other fantastic children’s book illustrators to explore:​

Maybe one of these children’s book art museums is near you! Take a field trip!​


Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer in the 19th century. You have a brief bio in your CD booklet, but let’s do some research and activities to learn some more about him!

  • Study up on the instruments at this website of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

  • This picture book includes a CD of Duke Ellington’s arrangement.

Other activities to do with the music:


​This adorable set of math activities for preschool and Kindergarten is based on the Nutcracker. If you don’t have unified cubes, use Legos instead.​

​Deb at Living Montessori Now has free printables for Nutcracker themed activities including matching, cutting, and math.

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