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Nutcracker Fine Motor Activities for Kids

The music of the Nutcracker seems to dominate the Christmas season.  Even for those of us without ballet performances this month, the music still plays in our favorite Christmas movies and from store speakers.  My kids love the Nutcracker and get so excited every time they hear the music.  They nag me all year long for "Nutcracker season" and the ability once again to do all their favorite themed activities again.

All school year, I've been focusing on fine motor skill building activities, both in the general sense and with specific themes.  Since my kids love the Nutcracker so much, I knew this would be a great opportunity to assemble some fine motor tasks with a special theme.

For families new to the story, I highly recommend "The Nutcracker" book by Susan Jeffers.  Each beautifully illustrated page contains a few sentences describing the story of the ballet.  I read the book with the kids and understood the flow of the dances for the first time in my life!  Then, when we watched the recorded version of the 1993 New York Ballet performance, the whole family enjoyed the dances, the story, and the music in a new way.

These amazing snowflake ballerinas are a holiday craft my family comes back to year after year.  The graceful dancers can be printed from a website called Krokotak.  Then, either grab some snowflake printable designs from the internet or cut some freestyle.  Be sure to leave a solid section in the middle to place the ballerina.  I cut the snowflake with a slit for the ballerina, making a fairly large cut and taping it back together after I push the dancer through.

Kids can work on their fine motor skills by helping to cut out the ballerinas.  My kids enjoyed the challenge of the hands and head; although, some of them needed help.  They also get to work their hands in folding paper for the snowflakes and cutting out the designs.  It takes a lot of finger strength to cut through all those layers of computer paper, but thinner paper, like a coffee filter, may be used to make it easier for them.  Be sure to stock up on lots of pointy craft scissors for getting into all the tiny places!

> > > Get the Ballerinas < < <

For the youngest kids, or as just another snow related project, large and small marshmallows can be used to create snowflakes.  Read a fun science book like "The Story of Snow" and challenge kids to make 6-sided creations, such as exist in real life.  Toothpicks can be used to help hold the marshmallows together.  This project would also qualify as a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) project!

I made this activity for The Rainy Day Mum's Storybook Advent series.  My post for her won't publish until Dec. 18, 2019, so you'll have to wait for that date to grab the adorable free printable I made.  The Montessori-inspired salt tray has glitter in it for added Christmas sparkle.  Substitute the salt for sprinkles or crushed candy.  Encourage even the most reluctant writers with a bit of Sugar Plum Fairy magic.

> > > Get the Printable < < <
(coming soon)

I suppose it's a bit of a cliche to have a nut cracking activity as part of the Nutcracker study, but it's one of my kids favorite things to do.  They beg me to do it all year long and countdown to the Christmas season when I'll at last let them crack nuts.  There are a variety of tools for cracking nuts on the market, which give kids an opportunity to test each one and compare them.  Don't forget to discuss with them that the Nutcracker doll was originally a nut cracker tool too!

> > > Get the Nut Cards < < <
(and more- you have to check it out)

The Montessori-inspired 3-part cards are from Every Star is Different as part of her Nutcracker printables pack.  Kids can match the cards to the nuts and cut apart one set of cards to match the label to the picture.  They can also use letter tiles or another moveable alphabet to spell out the names of the nuts.  Click the link below to download the red block cards from the picture.  As always, I recommend laminating the nut cards and alphabet cards to durability.  The red letter cards can also be mounted on 1" wood tiles like Scrabble game pieces.

> > > Get the Cards < < <

Last week, I posted this easy q-tip snowflake building activity.  I know that I've already talked about snowflakes once this post, but I wanted to share the fine motor challenge again since it fits with the theme.  Using cheap q-tips, ask kids to build a snowflake, either from their own design or by copying the picture cards provided in the post.

In addition to reading the book, listening to the music, watching the movie, and doing these activities listed above, consider these other awesome ideas from around the internet.  Do you have more to add?  Comment below!

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