Today it’s a rainy morning in Miami. I can’t help but think that if we were up north, that precipitation would be snow! Luckily my fiance and I will be spending the holidays visiting family in MD, VA, and WV, so I am crossing my fingers for a little of the white stuff!
Despite the mild temperatures here in Miami, we had a full blown Holiday celebration yesterday at UCP’s Early Beginnings Academy (that’s where I work with children birth-age 7 with special needs!) Part of the holiday spectacular (as I like to call it) was a performance of the Nutcracker, which I adapted into a musical.
This was so much fun to prepare! Here is how we presented this to the children in Kindergarten and 1st grade:
1) First, I brought in a book of the “Nutcracker” and read them the story while the musical soundtrack played in the background. We looked at pictures of all the characters and discussed what was happening in the story.
2) Next, I brought in a real Nutcracker doll so the children could see what he looked like.
3) Then, we took the children to a real, live performance of the Nutcracker ballet (geared specifically towards children). Field trips are always fun, but this one was amazing. The music, the colorful scenery, the dancing, the costumes – the children could not stop talking about what they had experienced.
4) Then, we got to work on rehearsing the musical that I had created specifically for them.
5) Finally, they performed for the families. Here are some of the highlights:
- Our narrator who struck a triangle to get the crowd’s attention before he announced the Act and Scene number.
- The children learning how to wrap presents for props under the Christmas tree.
- The children learning a choreographed dance to the “Nutcracker March” – complete with marching and spins.
- The children remembering their lines and positions on stage with only minimal prompting – yay!
- Our Clara who danced beautifully with the Nutcracker doll and our live Nutcracker who owned his role by marching, straight faced across the stage.
- The children creating background scenery – this included painting a large window and adding curtains.
- The little girls who danced with tutus to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” (including another girl from the audience who was taking ballet and decided she wanted to get up on stage and dance, too!)
The children gained a lot from the experience, and we all enjoyed seeing them shine yesterday!
But that wasn’t all for our holiday spectacular! After the Nutcracker was over, one group of children played “Carol of the Bells” on tone chimes, triangle, and rain stick. One group performed a reggae version of “Little Drummer Boy” on homemade drums. One group performed instrument solos on xylophone to “Jingle Bell Rock.” And we ALL sang festive holiday songs to get in the spirit before Santa made his appearance and handed out gifts.
Days like these make me even MORE grateful than I normally am to work in such an amazing place with children who are truly special.