Nibble, Nibble Mousie!

The holiday season is my favorite time of year in the music classroom!  One of the many fun things we do is a study of opera and Hansel and Gretel in 3rd grade.  As you may know, my area of expertise is the voice.  I hold two vocal performance degrees and completed partial work toward a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in vocal performance. Needless to say, I love opera and it makes me very happy to see my students begin to love it, as well.

Here is a brief outline of our Hansel and Gretel/Opera unit:

Session I: Introduce the Brothers Grimm, fairy tales, and the story.

Session II:  Watch Bugs Bunny What’s Opera, Doc?  Intro opera.  Sing through songbook.

Session III:  Sing through songbook.  Listen to excerpts.  Discussion.

Session IV:  Sing through songbook.  Review opera.  Review concert etiquette.  Watch 1/3 of DVD.

Session V: Watch 1/3 of DVD.

Session VI:  Watch last 1/3 of DVD. Discuss.

(Click here for a detailed outline of the unit)

During student teaching, I found an adaptation of the entire opera, story and songs, in an old 1951 textbook.


Over the years, I have developed this little  jewel into a delightful songbook that perfectly matches the CD excerpts to which we listen. (click here to see CD)

When I originally introduced this unit, I used the 1954 claymation video,  Hansel and Gretel: An Opera Fantasy.  I immediately realized that it would not work; the kids did not like it!  So, I decided to jump in with both feet and chose the New York City Metropolitan Opera’s recording, Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel  (1982).  Real, unadulterated opera!  Instant success!  The rest is history!

Our children hate the witch but LOVE this unit!!!

Oh, yes….one of the favorite parts of this…….

At the beginning of Session VI, we give a wee little gingerbread man cookie to each child and tell them to take a big sniff!  Then we encourage them to sniff the cookie to their heart’s delight but they may only begin to nibble the cookie when Hansel takes his first bite.    You can only imagine their eager little faces as they restrain themselves and await that first bite!  Pure delight!


P.S.  Be sure to check out the Opera/Musical Theater/Hansel and Gretel board on my Pinterest site, We Teach Music, for more ideas than you could possibly use!

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