Christmas School–The Nutcracker

No school for us this week, because we’re on Christmas vacation, but I thought I’d share some ideas for using the Nutcracker in school or at home. In the last 10 years, we’ve done anything from a “Nutcracker Day” to stretching our studies out over a full week. In that time, we’ve learned the story of the Nutcracker, listened through the entire score, compared and contrasted many different productions, seen a live performance, learned a bit about Tchaikovsky, made some fun crafts, and read about how the Nutcracker came to be a Christmas tradition in America. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas School!

Nutcracker Stories (It’s up to you whether you choose to teach the story before introducing the ballet. I think there can be value in both approaches, because being unfamiliar with the story before seeing the dance can really encourage students to “read” the ballet, but knowing the story first prepares children and lets to know them what to expect.)

Other Nutcracker Books


Ballet Productions (Of course, seeing the ballet live is the best option, and we’ve been fortunate enough to get to do that twice. But since it’s not always an option, I also like watching recordings of various productions, which also provides a great opportunity for comparing and contrasting how different companies interpret the story differently)


  • Nutcracker Prince–We done two different ornaments of the Nutcracker Prince over the years…one made of laminated paper and jointed, and one from a kit, which gave us a chance to paint our own.
  • Waltz of the Snowflakes–Snowflake crafts are so much fun, whether you’re making paper snowflakes or ornaments!
  • The Land of Sweets–We haven’t done this craft yet, but you could do all kinds of fun candy and treat themed crafts to go along with the Nutcracker Prince’s magical kingdom.

What kinds of fun Nutcracker activities do you like to do?

Christmas Crafts–General

In addition to making lots of cool ornamentsover the last few years, we’ve also had fun making other types of crafts. Not everything has worked the way I envisioned, (the wax paper/melted crayon “stars” are an example of that), and some things, even though meant for children, were so involved that I ended up doing most of the work, (the foam nativity, which is why we no longer do foam crafts!). Most of the crafts have been successful, though,  and all have been enjoyed by the children, (even the ones that didn’t turn out as planned), and a few were so popular that they’ve already been repeated, even though this is only (only?!?) our fourth year of homeschooling!

Christmas Wreaths

Handprint Wreath

Tissue Paper Wreath

Christmas Trees

Handprint Tree

“Stained Glass” Tree


Pipe Cleaner Snowflake with Pom-Pom “Snow”

Q-Tip Snowflake

Another Q-Tip Snowflake

Basic Paper Snowflake


A variety of stars made with foil, glitter, and crayons

3-D Stars

Wax Paper/Melted Crayon Stars, appearing with limited success


Handprint Angel

Paper Plate Angel


The ubiquitous paper chain

Stick puppets of different varieties, (wise men shown here)

The dreaded foam nativity scene

Gingerbread House

Mexican lantern from a “Christmas Around the World” lesson

3-D Poinsettia

Christmas Greetings from Around the World

Stamped & Laminated Cardstock Bookmarks 

Santa Lucia Crown and Star Boy Hat