nutcracker art lesson for kids with templates

Nutcracker Art Project



Nutcracker Art Lesson

Most everyone has either read The Nutcracker and the Mouse King a story written in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, or seen the ballet by Tchaikovsky. I was fourteen when I saw the ballet and forever deemed the Christmas event as the ultimate holiday tradition.

When I was an art teacher, I didn’t create a Nutcracker lesson for my students. My association of the story, theme and characters was always so grand, and creating a grand art lesson during such a busy time of year seemed way over the top–basically overwhelming.

Now my desire to help other art teachers find lessons that are not only doable, but rich in art techniques and creative possibilities, has paved the way for a very easy Nutcracker activity.

nutcraker lesson craft for kids

Watch the YouTube tutorial video below…


Create a snowy forest background for the Nutcracker project

It’s important to note that creating a background is totally optional. BUT, if you have 40-minutes, some Crayola acrylic or tempera paint, then adding a wintery forest is really a lovely addition.

Here’s what to do:

Draw a snowy forest floor with a black sharpie marker across the bottom of the paper.

Add a variety of large tree shapes above the forest floor. You can be fanciful or realistic.

Create a snowy forest background for the Nutcracker project

Pour Crayola acrylic paints (I LOVE this stuff) into a few small, plastic containers and start painting. try not to use too much water as the thicker this paint, the more beautiful it is.

Adding white teaches children about color theory and creating TINTS.

Create a snowy forest background for the Nutcracker project: painted details

After the acrylic dries a bit (15 minutes or while you are working), use white and a few darker colors to add spots, dashes or stripes.

Use a q-tip, back end of a brush and a small brush to make the marks and patterns.

You can also take some time to splatter paint snow, add a blanket of glitter or create other types of snowflakes.


Clara template for nutcracker project

You can skip the background and go directly to this step if you wish.

Print out the templates or drawing guides onto white cardstock. Make sure to click the YELLOW box in the image below so you can add your name and email to the form. We’ll send you a PDF with all 4 templates to your email.

Use colored markers, metallic markers, sequins, glitter, and colored pencils to encourage children to make their paper character their own.

The character templates are designed to be simple so children can draw their own uniforms, dresses, faces and details.

For more holiday art lessons to teach to your children at home or classroom of students, click HERE


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If you want to watch my full Facebook live tutorial on this lesson, click HERE.

I’d love to see what your students have created!

What do you think?

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  • Tammy Wooten

    Love this idea. Especially useful with sequins and glitter which all kids love using during this time of the year

    • Karen

      Wonderful website for great ideas and inspiration.

  • Catherine McLennan

    Hi Patty, this looks fantastic! What size of paper did you use for the background?
    Many thanks!

  • louisa

    Hi! When I click on the nutcracket download I get “how to draw a pumpkin.”
    Help! Thanks

  • Mary Anne

    Love this project – and so timely! Our 1st-5th are performing the Nutcracker in our school musical showcase for the parents in 2 weeks – my “littlers” will love drawing and painting their parts in art! Thank you!

  • Kerstin Feist

    Cute, I like the backgrounds… I’m looking for a project to teach tomorrow as a guest art docent, so time is limited. Maybe I can do the backgrounds and come back another day with the templates. What size is the background?

  • Kristin Maxwell


  • Elizabeth

    I keep getting the pumpkin template instead of nutcracker characters. I’m not sure if it’s my error.

    Fabulous project!

  • Elizabeth

    Oops. It said pumpkins but I did get the nutcracker download 🙂

  • Noeleen

    great project for my art class.. thanks so much

  • Trish

    Whilst we are officially into summer here in the land down under I still love to do anything snowy and Christmas related with my kids. It just feels right in the build up to the festive season. Summer holidays in three weeks-can’t wait!

  • rebecca tyler

    So amazing and magical!

  • Corinne

    Great fun!

  • neha aggarwal

    Its a beautiful project. Can”t wait to try with my kids .

  • Dianne Wanless

    Love it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Tangie Rumbold

    Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to get my hands on this and start my students on it on Tuesday. Thank you!

  • Mary

    Delightful! And good for a various ages

  • Lana

    EXCITING!! We will be using this lesson for sure!

  • Alison Keane

    Love it.

  • Debi London

    Just wonderful!

  • devon.smith5@gmail.com

    Are we able to save this lesson? Looks great!

    • Patty

      Yes, you can use the Share buttons that are located on the side of the post…email, print, share on social media, etc. Thanks!

  • Jodi Nelson

    Wonderful Christmas project! Thank you Patty.

  • ruth woodard

    This looks so fun, I love the forest background and the detail on the figures. I can see my second graders loving this!

  • Lyn

    This looks delightful! Hope I have time to use it this December!

  • Shannon

    Another beautiful project! Thank you!

  • LISA

    Love this! My granddaughter absolutely loves everything Nutcracker and I’m pretty sure, she’ll love this too!!

  • Lauren swan van lent

    thank you thank you!!!

  • Connie

    The kids will be enchanted with this project! Thank you!

  • Carla Lee

    Awesome! Thanks so much! 🙂

  • Jenny

    Love this project, thank you!


    great to have a holiday project that is not attached to Santa!!

  • Kimberly S Daniel

    I love IT!!!

  • April DeMarco

    Hello Patty! I see a video icon on the top header of the lesson plan. Where can I access the video? What is the video of?

  • Vicky Brookman

    Thank you for the freebie, it is appreciated. I am not an artist but many of my students are. they enjoy these art lessons.

  • Rochelle Dekow

    What a beautiful lesson. I can’t wait to share it with my after-school students which looks like it will appeal to the boys and the girls.

    • Patty

      Yes, totally! Boys will love decorating the nutcracker and mouse king…and so will the girls !

  • Jody Mitchell

    This is sooo cute! I love the Nutcracker.

  • Felicia

    Thank you! Perfect timing. My students had no idea what I was talking about when I started talking about the Nutcracker.

  • Krissy

    At my school the 4th and 5th graders perform the Nutcracker. This art project will be very exciting for the 2nd graders.

  • Chris Sandow

    Nicely simplified version of a Nutcracker activity. Easy-to-follow instructions, and the character templates leave space for individual creativity and embellishment.

    • Patty

      Thanks Chris…simplicity is the goal here so I’m thrilled others find it helpful. 🙂

  • Kathryn Petri

    These look wonderful, I can’t wait to try out this project!

  • Nicole

    What a great idea! I can’t wait to try this out with my grade 3 class.

  • Cheryl Mangione

    Love this! Thanks!

  • Robin Torres

    Oh Patty, I love this and so happy you incorporated the Mouse King too, the boys will love that part, especially the sword! Since I only have one 45 minute class, I will figure out a way to simplify the background so the kids can do this in my classroom. I just LOVE it!

  • ginny

    Thanks for a fun and festive project for the holidays Patty. I love it.

  • bronholgate

    Love that background – I will save the idea to use in the NZ winter!

  • Heather Robbins

    I’m very excited for this and I have been waiting for the download but have not received it. I’ve checked my junk mail as well just in case. Am I looking in the wrong places?

    • Patty

      Can you send a ticket to support@deepspacesparkle.com? They can help you with a link 🙂

  • Kerri

    Every year my 3rd graders are fortunate enough to get to attend a performance of the Nutcracker. What a wonderful way to create art that connects to the field trip. Thank you Patty!

  • sashafi

    I’m a sparkle club member and i have been unable to find the nutcracker face template anywhere. Can you help me locate it please.
    Thanks! Love this lesson.
    Art teacher

    • Patty Palmer

      Check today’s Sparkler newsletter. The full lesson will be included there. 🙂

      • Katie

        What size paper did you use for the background? The templates are taller than I thought for 12×18 paper. Thank you.

        • Patty

          8 ½ x 11″ You are probably printing them out larger than necessary. Check your printer settings 🙂

  • Lynett Holder

    .Thank you, this looks fantastic!

  • Kristie Contreras

    Love this!

  • Becky Johns

    This is well thought out to make it fun and not intimidating. Can’t wait to do it with my grandchildren on our December Art Days. Of course, we will listen to the music as we work! There is a great book of the Nutcracker that has places to push on each page to hear the music for that part of the story. Just up a level from reading the story. “The Story Orchestra, The Nutcracker” illus. by Jessica Courtney Tickle.

    • Patty

      I’m so happy to read through this…art shouldn’t be intimidating but I totally hear you. Enjoy the project!

  • Lesly Chamate

    LOVE Love this ! I was about to run out of ideas for a winter project and then this came out!! Thanks so much Patty and all the team

    Lesly from Florida 🙂

    • Patty

      Man sure to check you inbox for the Sparklers version!

  • Ronda Bouyea

    Adorable idea! I’ve always loved this theater performance, story and music. Thank you for making it into an art making experience!

  • Heather Hewitson

    You just saved this Intermediate teacher! I have a grade one and two coverage and I was looking for holiday art projects that are not Faith specific, and this project is terrific. I can’t wait to try it with them!

  • T Moore

    The Nutcracker characters would be much appreciated.

  • Dawn Ziegler

    Perfect timing.

  • Cynthia

    Patty, I can not thank you enough for all your ideas and lessons. I am an elementary
    art teacher and your lessons are teachable and always turn out beautiful. I have been looking for a Christmas project and this is the best I have seen.
    Merry Christmas and thank you again!

  • Toni

    Love it!

  • Maria

    How cute! I can’t wait to do these with my kids!

  • tina menic

    Thank you very much, this is perfect!!

  • Boothe Farley


  • Boothe Farley

    Love these! And love the Nutcracker!

  • chris




  • Nancy McDonough

    Hoping to use this over the next few days! Thank you@

  • Christine Tsatsouli

    Excellent! Great opportunity to watch the ballet, too!

  • Nancy McDonough

    Can’t wait to try this!

  • Kris

    Please email me the freebie. I love your lessons.

    • Patty

      You can click on the yellow button, enter your name and email and we’ll email it to you. 🙂

      • Windsor Mayfield

        I love DeepSpaceSparcle.com



  • Rebecca Garcia

    Our entire school went to see the Nutcracker in December. This is a beautiful project to do as a follow-up. Thank you!

  • ioneabotelho

    it is a very good. I found it quite creative and productive, because from this activity, I can continue with dance theme, another artistic language that is part of my program content. thank you

  • Rhonda


  • Lorna

    Hi! My students did your Nutcracker Art project before Christmas break but with tempera b/c that was what I had on hand. I would really like to purchase the Crayola paint that you show in this video…I am a teacher in Canada – I have tried searching on Amazon and can’t find the same brand. Can you please send me a link so I may purchase please. Thank you!

  • Patricia

    All your resources are awesome and very helpful for my homeschooling, thank you.

  • Debbie Kraus

    Love this!

  • Kattie A Huber

    I can’t wait to use this! Thank you for your hard work!

  • Melba Demus

    great idea for family fun

  • melissa_palmer

    Love this!

  • Connie

    I love your sharing…

  • Jennifer White

    I love your lessons

  • Sherry

    I would love to do this activity with my Grade 2 class this week.

  • Lori Schloemer

    I would love to try this with my Second graders!

  • Joan Hughes

    I’m thrilled to have this lesson. I’m taking my students to the ballet next week and would like to enrich their experience with these art ideas. Thank you

  • Sandy

    Love the whole project. Templetesgive kids an idea how to draw. Learning tints and shades help them to learn value. Great how you integrate into the lesson. Thx.

  • Laura Boushell

    Subscribed but now I can’t get the template. Bummer

    • Patty

      No bummer required 🙂 If you entered your email address correctly, check your spam or junk folder as these types of emails often go there. If you can’t find it, your email service provider may be blocking us. Make sure Deep Space Sparkle is whitelisted. If you continue to have problems, you can contract support@deepspacesparkle.com and we’ll be happy to help sort it out. 🙂

  • Therssa Burt

    I would like to receive the free template of The Nutcracker.

    • Patty

      Not problem! Just click the button in the post, enter your email and we’ll send it to you. 🙂 If you have trouble, contact support@deepspacesparkle.com

  • Janet Toney

    Thanks so much for your help .I have been collecting different nutcracker pictures.Thanks for reminding me how crazy it gets around Christmas.We have to have all our Christmas work done by the fifth of Dec.

  • Janelle Renee Hvidsten

    My daughter loves the nutcracker!

  • Kathy Rinard

    Where is the video? It was here just a few days ago. I watched it with my granddaughter. Is there another way I can access it? I LOVE this lesson. Planning to do it with my fifth graders.

    • Hannah

      Hi Kathy!
      Thank you for reaching out. I’m glad you’re excited to try this with your class! We have two videos for this project. The main video is located at the top of the blog above “Background Choices.” I listed the direct links below to make it easier, if you’re having trouble finding it on the blog.

      You can find the first one on our Youtube Channel here:

      Patty also has a talk through video on Deep Space Sparkle’s Facebook page here:

      -Hannah (Team Sparkle)

  • Christi Baugh

    I love these!

  • Dansie R Carbone

    This project will be great for the after school art club!

  • Jeannette

    Looks great!

  • Trinidad Najera

    Thank you so much for sharing the Nutcracker Art project with us! What a beauty.

  • Kristina Ivey

    love this!

  • Karen

    Wonderful website for great ideas and inspiration.

    • Hannah

      ? Thank you Karen!! Happy Holidays!! -Hannah (Team Sparkle)

  • Maria Gilmore

    Thank you!

  • Carrabie Vice

    Thanks for this awesome art lesson I used it in my class today! Only suggestion or request would be in case we can’t find large blue craft paper, could you scale the characters down so they fit on 8×11 sheets of colored blue paper?

    These turned out so beautiful!

    • Hannah

      Yes, of course. We don’t have smaller templates pre-made, but you can easily scale it from your home or school printer in the print settings -Hannah (Team Sparkle)

  • Jacquelyn

    I love this! Quick question: How do you recommend gluing down the characters to the background? Thanks in advance!

    • Patty

      Let the background dry and then use a glue stick. 🙂 Have fun!

  • Windsor Mayfield

    So cool!

  • angelina

    thanks patty

  • Callie

    I love your art projects, but lately I have been having a hard time getting the form to process that we fill out to get the free downloads.

    • Bethany

      Hi Callie! I’m sorry you are having trouble with the downloads. If you would like some help to get the download please reach out to Shannon at support@deepspacesparkle.com and she can lend a hand.

  • Kourtnay Kemsley

    So cute!

  • Yvette Knavel

    Thank you!

  • Heather

    Love these! My children will be so excited to color them!

  • Torrie Facino

    The link doesn’t appear to be active. I’d love to do this with my first graders.

    • Bethany

      Hi Torrie! I’m sorry you’re having trouble with the link. We have found that both the Chrome or Safari browsers work best so be sure to try using one of those. I just tested the link and everything worked. If you click the download button and add your email address we will send the lesson directly to your inbox. Be sure to check your Spam or Junk folders to make sure it didn’t end up there. When you receive the email scroll to the bottom and click to download packet. If you continue to have trouble you can email support@deepspacesparkle.com

  • Gail Kelly

    Such a stunning lesson…would love to try buy can’t seem to download the templates. Any chance they could be emailed? Thank you.

    • Bethany

      Hi Gail! I’m sorry you’re having trouble with the link. We have found that both the Chrome or Safari browsers work best so be sure to try using one of those. I just tested the link and everything worked. If you click the download button and add your email address we will send the lesson directly to your inbox. Be sure to check your Spam or Junk folders to make sure it didn’t end up there. When you receive the email scroll to the bottom and click to download packet. If you continue to have trouble you can email support@deepspacesparkle.com

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