- a pre- or post-show snack
- Find a performance. Look for local ballet theaters online or in your local newspaper. Local ballet schools may offer holiday performances just right for young audiences.
- Check the running times. Note that a holiday favorite—The Nutcracker—can run more than two hours, which may be too long for young children. Local ballet schools may offer an abbreviated version that's perfect for your child's attention span.
- Choose your seats. Select seats with good visibility, but not too close to the stage. Young children can be frightened of characters in costume.
- Preview the ballet. Many ballets are based on familiar stories such as Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Check out The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories by Jane Yolen or The Random House Book of Stories from the Ballet retold by Geraldine McCaughrean. Look for picture book versions of the story. View a snippet of the ballet on youtube.com or rent the DVD.
- Preview the music. Look up the composer online and listen to the music ahead of time.
- Learn ballet moves. Have your child try out the five basic positions of ballet. See them at this video. (Note: Very young child may not have the motor skills necessary for these moves, but they'll enjoy trying them out.)
- Learn ballet words. Use the ballet as an opportunity to boost your child's vocabulary. Look for On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora to learn words like arabesque, en pointe and pas de chat.
- Arrive early. Plan on arriving about 30 minutes before the curtain goes up to find parking, pick up your tickets, use the bathroom, and so on.
- Go on a scavenger hunt. At the theater, play I Spy to fight pre-show fidgets. See if she can spot a program, an usher, a ballerina, a tutu, ballet slippers, the orchestra, and so on.
- Investigate. During intermission or after the performance ask your child open-ended questions:
- Was there a story? What was it about?
- Who was the main character?
- What happened first? Next? Last?
- Would you like to be a ballerina? Set designer? Choreographer?
- Can you use your body to show emotions without saying a word? How would you show happiness? Sadness? Anger?
- Read all about it. Check out Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird, Ballerina by Peter Sis, Ballerina Dreams by Lauren Thompson, Ivy + Bean Doomed to Dance by Annie Barrows, Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers, and The Nutcracker Ballet: A Book, Theater, and Paper Doll Foldout Play Set by Mara Conlon.
For more exploring, play Dora's Great Big World game, find do-together Dora crafts, recipes, and activities, and print a personalized Explorer Kit for your child at DoraTheExplorer.com.
You can also get Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure app on iTunes!
Thanks to Susan Hood
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