To say that I collect nutcrackers would be an understatement. I have over 100 of them. It all started when my dad (Walter) took me to the ballet and I became immediately enchanted. It’s one of the things I shared with my students at the beginning of each new school year as we got to know each other. And each Christmas, each student would make their own paper nutcracker soldier.
I am SUPER excited that there’s a new Nutcracker movie out. And next year, we’ll be taking little Walter to see his first performance of the Nutcracker ballet with the National Ballet of Canada. When he’s old enough, we’ll make nutcracker soldiers together too. This particular project is one of my favorites.
Welcome to Day 4 of the Fourth Annual 12 Days of Christmas Series!
We have teamed up with 50 plus bloggers to bring you a oodles of DIY Ideas and Recipes to make your holiday season merrier. There are 12 different posts in the series and we have spread them out over a four week period with three posts per week. Now is the time to subscribe!
It’s Day 4 and we are sharing Kids Christmas Craft Ideas!
An empty and cleaned standard size pop can (355 ml size) –
note: we made larger versions of these with 2 liter pop bottles instead. Stay tuned and once I get my hands on a pop bottle, I’ll get the dimensions worked out for it too. Other than that, all instructions remain the same.
Construction paper –
red, black, blue, pink, white (for the eyes unless you want to use googly eyes instead), green (optional – it’s for the holly leaves embellishment). For this size, you’ll need no more than 1 sheet of each. Note: these are simply the colors I used for my sample here. I put out every color of paper I could find for my students and let them choose!
plain white school glue is what we used but just know that you’ll need to use a bit of patience to give it some drying time. Some of my students found the gluing process frustrating, so I always had scotch tape on hand too. For the sample one I made, I used the scotch tape for basic assembly and tacky glue for embellishment.
these are optional. You can certainly make all of the embellishments from paper and still have a lovely nutcracker soldier. But, we had a fully stocked art supply center and the kids loved adding their own personal creative touches to their soldiers. Ribbon, googly eyes, pompoms, felt, glitter, sequins, buttons, and other items like that can really be fun!
PRO TIP: You can really keep the costs down (especially helpful if making these with a group) by sticking to paper only. I found a pad of construction paper at the dollar store for $2 and there was enough paper in there to make 6-8 nutcracker soldiers. Total cost is approximately 50 cents per soldier (even less if some kids are using less traditional colors for theirs). These projects are, however, an easy way to use up leftover bits and scraps you have around the house.
How to make your paper nutcracker soldier
1. Begin by cutting out the main pieces for assembling your soldier. Save the scraps for embellishments.
Black: 2 pieces, each 4 1/2 by 8 inches.
Blue: 2 1/2 by 9 inches
Red: 2 pieces, each 3 1/2 inches by 9 inches
Pink: 2 1/2 by 9 inches
2. Lay the pieces out in order, overlapping each piece so you can secure it with glue or tape.
Start with a red piece, then pink, followed by another red, and finally the blue. (Keep the black aside for the boots).
I laid them in such a way that the first red piece was fully exposed so that he would have a nice tall hat.
Before securing, lay the pop can alongside so you can gauge just how much overlap you’d like. The red for the hat extends right up above the top of the pop can and the blue of the pants extends about half an inch below. The rest of it should be covering the can.
Once you have the strips of colors attached together, you now want to wrap it around the pop can. We glue or tape where it overlaps on the back of the soldier but have never actually glued it right to the pop can. There’s no need. It stays quite secure and avoids puckering of the paper from the additional glue. It also allows you to adjust accordingly once you add the boots.
3. Make the boots.
Take each of the pieces of black paper and roll them up. Before I secure them with glue or tape, I like to place them up inside of the pants to make sure of the sizing. They should fit inside the pants snugly. Once happy with them, tape or glue each of the tubes you’ve made to help them retain their shapes. You don’t need to tape or glue them inside the pants. They will hold in place all on their own.
4. Embellish as desired!
I simply cut out pieces for his face, a bit of decoration for his hat, a stripe down his pants to make them look more pant-like, and then a couple pieces to criss-cross on his jacket. Some kids liked to cut out a brim for his hat – others trimmed it with pompoms. One used made fringe – I loved her style! Some made some more small rolls of red paper (similar to the boots but skinnier) and glued those on either side of his jacket to make arms. The possibilities are endless!
Scroll down for many more Kids Christmas Craft Ideas!
You can check out my last post in this series to learn how to make a Santa Claus Paper Chain Countdown Calendar. Free printable for fun Christmas activities included!