Christmas in EYFS: The Nutcracker

This term, I have had the pleasure of returning to Reception Class for the first time in twenty years. I’m not going to lie, I have been relying more on my mum skills than my teacher skills this term while I get back into the swing of things! As we approached the end of term, my mind turned to Christmas, and with both my mum head and my teacher head for once firing on all cylinders, I created a lesson based around The Nutcracker. This was so successful last week that I thought I would share it on our blog, just in case anyone else finds it useful during this last week of term!

Starter: Nutcracker Animation

To begin our lesson we watched this short animation of The Nutcracker, which held the children’s attention throughout. We paused at a couple of points to talk about the story and the characters, but for the most part the children were happy to sit and watch.

Main Activities:

The children were given the option of taking part in various different music, dance, and art activities, which they moved between freely during the session. Dance: We played two clips of the music from the Nutcracker from the BBC Ten Pieces website – The Waltz of the Flowers, and the Russian Dance. The children could choose to dance along on the carpet, with or without a toy. Music: On separate tables we had ‘twinkly’ instruments to make music for the Sugar Plum Fairy (think chime bars, bells etc), and ‘bangy’ instruments to make music for the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King (woodblocks, drums etc). Art: We had a colouring station set up with pictures of characters and scenes from the Nutcracker which you can download free here. We used our triangles to create star shapes, which we cut out and decorated with glitter. When we hung them up to dry we played our triangles underneath them to add some extra Christmas magic!
AWe created nutcracker and fairy paper chains, adapting an activity from BBC Ten Pieces, which you can find the tutorial for here. We folded the paper and lightly drew the characters on it for the children to trace and then cut out (or have cut out by an adult for them), and then they decorated them as they wished.


I’m not going to lie, the plenary for this lesson was mainly wash the glitter off your hands, fetch your snack and sit on the carpet while I hand over to your ‘real’ teacher! However, during snack time, the teacher questioned the children about what they had done during the morning session, so there was at least a partial review of learning. Next time I need to factor in how long it takes to tidy up 5 separate activities, two of which involve bucket loads of glitter….
Dr Liz Stafford is Director of Music Education Solutions® and Editor of Primary Music Magazine. She teaches Reception and KS1 music at a local authority primary school in the West Midlands.