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Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about the beloved ballet 'The Nutcracker' with this lesson plan. They will read a text lesson, take a follow-up quiz, and participate in two activities to solidify their grasp of concepts.

Learning Objectives

After reviewing this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • summarize the plot of The Nutcracker
  • describe some of the musical performances in the ballet
  • name the main characters in The Nutcracker

Length

  • 60-90 minutes

Materials

  • Audio for the following movements/songs from The Nutcracker
    • The March of the Children
    • the Waltz of the Snowflakes
    • the Trepak
    • the Chinese Dance
    • the Waltz of the Flowers
    • the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
  • Paper copies of the text lesson The Nutcracker Ballet: Composer, Music & Story
  • Paper copies of the related lesson quiz
  • Image of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  • Six devices with internet access (one per group)

Key Vocabulary

  • Alexander Dumas
  • Celesta
  • Clara
  • E.T.A Hoffman
  • Fritz
  • Land of Sweets
  • Sugar Plum Fairy
  • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Instructions

  • Display an image of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
    • Does anyone know who this is?
  • After some discussion, reveal Tchaikovsky's name and ask students if anyone knows what is he known for.
  • Hand out copies of the text lesson The Nutcracker Ballet: Composer, Music & Story and read the first section, 'Introduction,' with students.
    • With what holiday is the ballet associated?
    • On what book is the ballet based?
    • Who was the original author of The Nutcracker story?
    • Why was the book not suitable for younger readers?
    • What famous author penned the updated version?
  • Now ask for volunteers to take turns reading paragraphs from the 'Story: Act 1' section of the text lesson aloud.
    • Who is having a party? What kind of party?
    • Who brings gifts?
    • Why is the brother jealous?
    • Like what is the toy shaped?
    • How is the toy fixed?
    • When Clara awakens what happens?
    • Into what does the toy transform?
  • Next, ask for new volunteers to read the section 'Act II' out loud.
    • What is the Land of Sweets?
    • What performances happen there?
  • Now ask for a couple of students to read the section 'Composer and Music' out loud.
    • Which legendary composer wrote the music for the ballet?
    • What other famous ballet did he compose the music for?
    • Which act has many of the favorite musical performances?
    • What is a celesta?
    • What other instruments are utilized?
    • What was the initial reaction to the ballet?
  • Lastly, have students read the section 'Lesson Summary' individually before you recap the entire text as a class and answer any outstanding questions students may have.
  • Have students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate your students' grasp of the lesson.

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