This year, just after my daughter turned three, we decided to try adding to our holiday traditions by attending The Nutcracker Ballet. My daughter loves dancing and music, however, she tends to get scared often (actually VERY often). I thought that if I overload her with the story of The Nutcracker it would get to a point where she knew what was going to happen, making it less scary. I decided to share some of the strategies and materials that I used, as well as some that I am planning to do in the future.
Ok, my first step was to go through all of my boxes and boxes of books that I have in my basement from my classroom. I found an absolute gem that I forgot I bought. It is called “The Nutcracker” by Susan Jeffers. You can find it here. This was by far the best component to our little Nutcracker unit. This is a beautiful book. I have a full review here. My daughter and I fall in love with it! I can’t even tell you how many times we read it (and it isn’t short by any means). This started her obsession with the Nutcracker. She loved him! Yeah, this just might work out after all!
Next, I went to the good ol’ trusty library to see what they had for us. They had a lot of informational books that may be useful in the future or something that I would actually like to look through when I get the chance (HA!). I do think that maybe next year, these can be books that I would leave in her room and she could look through them herself and see all of the different photographs and drawings that they have in them. One was by DK Publishing book, entitled, of course, The Nutcracker. I also picked up Auntie Claus: Home For the Holidays. I am not familiar with the series at all. It was a fun book about a little girl who is playing the Sugar Plum fairy in her school play. Again it was fun to read, I think especially for older kids who may get some of the humor better, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I also picked up a few more books, none of which I feel are worth mentioning, either because they were not about the story of the nutcracker, or I just didn’t care for them.
At the library, I also checked out a couple of CD’s of the music from the show. I played them in the background of our playtimes and the kids loved them! Every so often they would just start dancing. It was so cute. One of my personal favorites is here.
At this point, my daughter really liked the music and understood a bit about the story. Next, I wanted to introduce her to the concept of seeing a show in person and I also wanted to show her what a nutcracker was. On my ipad, I found an app that is FREE (because I am super cheap and refuse to pay for apps) called The Oregon Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker. It seems to be part of their program that they hand out, but you are able to watch a couple of the performances. This was really fun, yet a bit confusing for my daughter because one of the ballerinas wasn’t wearing a tutu (how dare she!!).
To take care of the actual Nutcracker, for whatever reason, was a bit more difficult. I could not think of where to buy one. I checked a couple stores that I happen to be at anyways and they didn’t have them. We did venture to one of the large home improvement stores, and viola! There he was, OUR NUTCRACKER, and all glittered up nonetheless! We took that bad boy home and put him right on the mantel where he belonged. I am sure that this time of year and after the holidays you can get great deals on these. Maybe I will pick up one in a few weeks at a bargain for next year. Upon further investigation, I found that there are some really funny ones out there!
Ok, so we read our books, listened to our music, and had our own Nutcracker, we were good to go! My daughter was very excited for the show and she ended up loving it. She seriously wasn’t scared at all! It really goes to show the more you can expose and prepare children for certain situations through the trusty pages of books and such, the more prepared and successful they can be! I use this method all the time with different experiences, such as going to the doctor, starting school, whatever it may be. I will be sharing more of my ideas and resources on this matter with you, so stayed tuned!
Here are some more ideas (I haven’t tried them yet) that I have tucked away for future use regarding The Nutcracker…..
-I’m thinking next year, because my daughter has some knowledge on the subject, we can get crafty!! Here is a kit that you can buy, where you can paint a nutcracker yourself which would be fun. I really like these ballerinas from goodideasforyou.com here.
-There are several coloring books and stickers and such out there that may be nice to have around the house.
-I do also believe that next year will include a movie of some sort. We actually had one from the library, that we never got to, but next year I will probably be checking those out as well.