December Means NUTCRACKER!!

Happy December everyone - well it is almost December!  This is Karla from CMajorLearning and I hope that everyone has had a few days of rest, too much good food and great company of family and friends.  I know I did and it was just what I needed to begin my dash through December at Indian Trial Elementary!

This month will go by so quickly as there is much going on for everyone!  I spend a great deal of time during this month preparing my second grade students for our field trip to the Ohio Theater in downtown Columbus, OH where we go to see the Balletmet performance of The Nutcracker Ballet.

Inside the historic Ohio Theater

This has become an annual field trip for our second graders, one that everyone always looks forward to, teacher, administration, and the students!   My preparation began this year in creating a Wonder Wheel for each of my classes.  This is a strategy that I learned from a second grade teacher at my school… is quite simple really.  Take any image of a wheel that has room to write between the spokes, write or type what you are wondering about in the center of the wheel and fill in the spokes will all the questions the students have about your topic - what do they wonder or want to learn more about?  Click here is a link to a free download of a pdf file in my TpT store. 

After we have done some “wondering”, we move right into reading the story.  I have several favorites, but my top two are The Nutcracker Ballet Vladimir Vagin 

My other favorite is  The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers 

I read each story on a different music day and then we compare/contrast the versions.  I then bring out the original book by E.T.A Hoffman.  I do not read this one but show them that the original is MUCH longer than these picture book versions.  

After each reading, I introduce the students to one of the pieces of music from the ballet.  I usually start with the Trepak or March of the Toy Soldiers because they recognize them almost immediately.  This year I was delighted to be introduced to a new listening resource book titled Active Listening Lessons:  The Nutcracker Suite by David Bretzius.  

I love that this resource has clear directions, body percussion, unhitched percussion and Orff instruments.  So far, the kids have been loving it!

The other “new” resource I have found this year is GradeCam - grading with a camera.  

This is a FREE program that can be accessed from your computer, Pad or tablet.  The idea is that you create a test that has multiple choice answers, create student answer sheets (that have the students name already assigned!), and grade the tests by using your devices camera or document camera.  Really - how cool is this!  I am super excited to try this new technology with my second graders on their listening assessment.  In the past I have used clickers (individual remote controls that work through my SmartBoard), pluckers (which Jamie Parker just blogged about last weekend here on the KodalyKorner) or just paper pencil…..all have worked great but required a lot of set up time (entering names and creating student id’s) or grading (I have 277 second grade students right now!).  Because my district subscribes to the GradeCam service, my classless came pre-populated with the students names and unique id numbers so all I have to do is create the test, print the grade sheets and grade them by placing them in front of my camera!  I can’t wait to try it out!!!  Here is the link to the GradeCam website - there are link on that page to the App store and Google play for use on your devices.  

We have also been reviewing rhythms along with our field trip prep work and you can find several activities incorporating The Nutcracker Ballet available through my TeacherPayTeachers store. 

There are many many great resources available on TpT and I encourage you to search for what is best for your students but here is the link to my TpT store’s nutcracker files.  Also - there is a big sale going on December 1 and 2 ONLY - don't miss out on some great deals.  

What activities do you use with your students when learning about The Nutcracker Ballet?  I would love to hear form you!!! Have a great December!


  1. Thank you for the Nutcracker book recommendations! I am not familiar with the Vladimir Vagan version- I may have to check that out. I love using the parachute for phrasing and form for Chinese Dance and Trepak!

    1. YEAH - so glad that you found something new! There are sooooo many things you can teach with this music - I could spend several months on it instead of just December!


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