The Nutcracker season is upon us and as a former ballet instructor, I love to introduce this holiday classic to my Montessori students each year!  My favorite Nutcracker book for this age group (3-6) is by Susan Jeffers:

After reading the story during circle time for a few days, I introduce the music.  While we are listening, I point out several key elements of the storyline.  The children are always captivated and become so excited when we begin dancing like the toy soldiers in the party scene or the snowflakes in the forest on the way to the ‘Land of the Sweets’…  Of course, great care is taken when we are dancing to the music of the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

After a few days of listening the story and the music together at circle time, I introduced the children to headphones for listening to music individually.  Also, I placed some easy to read stickers on the CD player so the children can easily set up and complete the activity by themselves.  After situating themselves in front of the player and putting on the headphones, they can then listen to the music of The Nutcracker while reading the book.  This is now an option they now have during our Montessori morning work sessions which has been immensely popular!

I also set out a set of three decorative nutcrackers for the children to explore.  To give a sense of direction to the activity, I placed three labels for the children to read and match to the nutcrackers – large, medium, and small.  After they match the labels, I showed them how to rearrange the nutcrackers so they may repeat the reading and matching.  Lastly, they leave the nutcrackers in order from largest to smallest and put the labels in the small container, leaving everything ready for the next person.  The kids are able to complete this lesson while listening to the music as well.

Our music, turned Nutcracker, shelf.  The headphones are housed in a basket under the CD player.
A closer look at the labels matched to their nutcrackers. 

I feel it is critically important to offer these types of music, movement, and language opportunities for children in the classroom.  Not only are they better able to appreciate the music, but also, these types of activities promote learning opportunities while integrating multiple intelligences in the classroom. 

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