The Nutcracker and Using Handel’s Last Chance in the Music Classroom

 The Nutcracker is a holiday favorite. MusicplayOnline has lessons for teaching the story of the Nutcracker, and many of the movements. These can be holiday performances OR they can be fun holiday lessons. In the Wednesday webinar, I'll do many of the movement activities, and share some of the play alongs and written activities.

Where are The Nutcracker and Handel's Last Chance? 

In our Listening Units. You can find these by follows:
Left Menu - select UNITS, then select Listening Units
units tab
1.  The Story, the Composer
  • learn about the story of the Nutcracker

  • learn about the composer.

the nutcracker activities

2. Tea Dance
  • Listening map (flute/pizz. strings)
  • Move like mice with flute, like soliders with pizz. strings
  • Listening Log
  • Rhythm play alongs
    • 1st - animated instrument play along ta titi
    • 2nd - animated instrument play along with ta, titi, sh
    • 3rd - animated body percussion play along
    • Move with red, white, green plates to the music
    • Demo of plates with the music
    • Kids demo of movement with flashlights
tea dance activities
3. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
  • Listening Map introduces form, instruments

  • Paper Plates
  • Listening Glyph
  • Animated play along
  • Compare and contrast styles
    • listen to two very different arrangements and compare them
  • Demo of kids playing along
  • Very cool flashlight idea sent by one of our Musicplay teachers
    dance of the sugarplum fairy activities
4. Dance of the Mirlitons (Reed Pipes)
  • Listening Log
  • Animated Play Along with sticks, triangle, drum (or B/P)
  • Flashcard Play Along
    • illustrates form (AB)
  • Form play along

dance of the mirlitons activities

5. Trepak
  • Listening Log
  • Score Play Along
  • Animated Play Along
  • Movement with Scarves class demo
  • Movement with Scarves black light

trepak activities

6. Waltz of the Flowers 
  • Listening Log
  • Movement with Paper Plates
  • Note: we've created a shortened version (about 2 min.) of this. The audio of the short version is available to download

waltz of the flowers activities

7. March from The Nutcracker 
  • Bucket Drum Arrangement

march from the nutcracker activities


composer specials


Did you know that Musicplayonline has aquired exclusive rights to the Composers Specials videos?

These made for HBO 50 minute videos put the lives of these composers into context.  Filmed in period costumes, with gorgeous sets, these well researched films are a great way to introduce these composers to your students.
Handel's Last Chance is set during the time that Handel wrote Messiah.  It ends with the Hallelujah Chorus - and in Musicplay 4 we have a 2 part of arrangement of Hallelujah chorus to teach your students. 
We have two sets of worksheets to accompany the video - and these are much better than any I've seen!

Level 1 Worksheets Available for Handel's Last Chance

 worksheet cover
1. Booklet Cover

Color Handel Handel's last chance story worksheet

2. Synopsis of the Video

The video is set during the time that Handel wrote Messiah in Dublin. He wrote the work in 18 days, and the first performance was a charity concert to benefit people who were in debtor's prison. 

In the movie Handel's Last Chance, Handel got Jamie's mother out of debtor's prison - these movies are very much based on historical facts, as well as including a story about a child.

Handel's last chance Handel biography
3. Biography of Handel

4. Vocabulary Worksheet (Level 1)

Handel's last chance vocabulary worksheet

5. Discussion Questions

You could invite students to complete this as a written assignment OR use them to discuss the film.

We've made a slide show with screen shots from the film, because it's easy to miss some little details. The slide show also includes discussion questions. Use the slide show to review the plot and better understand the film.

Handel's last chance discussion slides 1

Handel's last chance discussion slides 2

Slide show review and discussion questions.

I've found this really helpful to remember and understand many of the details in the film.

Handel's last chance respond to the film worksheet

6. Respond to the film

Handel's last chance listen and respond worksheet

7. Listen and respond to the music 

Listening selections by Handel can be found by searching "Handel" in the listening kits. 

Handel's last chance then and now worksheet

8. Then and Now

Compare when Handel lived to now

Handel's last chance show what you know worksheet9. Show what you know - Assess the learning

Handel's last chance colour the performance worksheet

10. Color the Performance

Watch our webinar on The Nutcracker and using Handel's Last Chance in your classroom here!

Handels Last Chance Cover-1


Programs Available on MusicplayOnline:

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Additional Resources published by Themes & Variations

These are available as downloads (or print/ship) at

All are affordably priced ($20-40) and include perf/acc mp3s, piano/vocal scores, and musicals or reviews include scripts.

These include permissions to perform, and permissions to reproduce vocal scores or lyrics for your students.


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Celebrate Around the World
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Festivals and Holidays

Festival and Holidays

Festivals and Holidays is a musical revue exploring celebrations around the world. The songs are unison or easy two-part suitable for classroom or choir, and staging is simple.



Snowtastic Cover Art


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Is Santa Smarter Cover Art

Is Santa Smarter?

Is Santa smarter than the kids in your school? It’s a Christmas musical/revue featuring your school’s fifth graders on a game show with Santa as a celebrity contestant trying to win enough money to pay for the high cost of gas to power his sleigh. 


The Best Gift Ever Cover Art

The Best Gift Ever

The Buymore Shopping Mall has a contest - tell what the best Christmas gift is, and WIN that gift! The shoppers have many unique gift ideas - toys, candy, new teeth, slippers, and baking. But it’s the Charity Bell ringer that has the best gift idea - a Christmas meal for the homeless.


Slapshot Santa Cover Art

Slapshot Santa Scores Again!
Santa dreams that he’s scored a goal in the NHL and decides that he’s going to practice hockey until he can play with his favorite hockey star.
Production on the Christmas toys falls further and further behind while Santa is out practicing his slapshot. The elves make some hasty phone calls and Santa’s favorite hockey team flies to the North Pole to have an exhibition game.


Christmas Favorites Cover Art

Christmas Favorites
Thirteen songs for your class or choir that will be sure to be student favorites! The teacher's guide includes the piano/vocal arrangements for 10 songs, choreography suggestions for some, and reproducible student pages for 7 songs.
Includes Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer


The Christmas Concert Idea Book Cover Art

The Christmas Concert Idea Book

Would you like some drama in your Christmas concert without producing a full length musical? The ‘Christmas Concert Idea Book’ is a collection of skits and songs, each of which is suitable for a K-6 class (or choir) to perform at a Christmas concert. 


Kinder Music Christmas Collection

Kinder Christmas Collection

Here is a collection of songs ready for your next Christmas concert! Your students will enjoy performing them, and their parents will love watching! This collection includes traditional favorites and original songs. You'll find something for everyone!


K-3 Christmas Concert Ideas Cover ArtK-3 Christmas Concert Ideas

Do you need an idea for your K-3 class for a Christmas assembly or concert?
Here are 20+ ideas: Songs, plays, poems, reader’s theatre, dances - each of which is suitable for a K-3 class to perform at a Christmas concert.


Happy Holidays Cover Art

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays is a collection of Christmas and Holiday songs. Not only have we given several traditional carols a fresh new sound by weaving together interesting medleys but there are also new carols to help you and your singers rejoice in a festive spirit this holiday season.

Chants de Noël Cover ArtChants de Noël

Each year teachers request music materials for French Immersion classes. This publication has wonderful unison or 2 part arrangements of seven Christmas songs for your French Immersion classes or your English school choir!


Holiday Songs for Guitar and Ukulele Cover Art

Holiday Songs for Guitar and Ukulele

This collection of holiday songs for Guitar and Ukulele includes arrangements of 40 Holiday, Christmas, and Hanukkah songs. Many of the arrangements are given in alternate keys, so they are all playable on both the guitar or ukulele and in appropriate ranges for children’s voices!


We Remember Cover Art

We Remember

Your Remembrance Day/Veterans Day assembly will be easy to plan when you use the songs, poems, and quotes in this collection. The entire collection is beautiful and very singable for young classes or choirs. The songs will be a moving tribute to all veterans. 

Holiday Songs for Recorder Cover ArtHoliday Songs for Recorder

14 traditional and multicultural songs for unison, 2-part and 3-part soprano recorder. Includes 30 reproducible student pages in regular and “kid note” notation. This is an excellent way for you to incorporate recorders into your Christmas or winter concert.


Holiday Orff Source Cover Art

Holiday Orff Source

NEW!!!  The Holiday Orff Source includes 14 lessons using the Orff process and instruments that vary from simple songs for PreK-K-1 to accompany a storybook, to interesting instrumental arrangements for older students. The students will have opportunities in the lessons to sing, play, move, listen and improvise. 



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