CCSS: 6.EE.A.2.C, 7.EE.B.3, MP1, MP6

TEKS: 6.3D, 6.7D, 7.3A, 7.3B

By the Numbers: Nutcrackers!

You know it’s winter when you see houses decorated with colorful, wooden soldiers and advertisements for The Nutcracker ballet on TVs and billboards. But did you know that nutcrackers have been around for more than 2,000 years? The earliest nutcrackers were made of two pieces of wood fastened together and used to crack hard-shelled nuts like walnuts and chestnuts.

They didn’t get their signature look until the 17th century. That’s when German artisans started carving little soldiers, which were symbols of good luck and given as gifts. But nutcrackers didn’t become popular worldwide until a 1954 performance of The Nutcracker ballet in New York City became a hit. People started giving them as gifts, and the holiday nutcracker took off!

Read on to learn more about nutcrackers—and the classic holiday ballet. Then plug in the numbers to solve the equation below and reveal a final fact.


Year the first ballet of The Nutcracker was performed with music by the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. It debuted a week before Christmas in Russia.


Walt Disney Pictures

Year Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms hit theaters. The movie, inspired by the ballet, grossed $173,961,069 worldwide!


Diameter, in centimeters, of a typical walnut


Andrea Mohin/The New York Times/Redux

Age, in years, of Clara, the ballet’s main character. She goes on a magical adventure with a nutcracker that she is given as a Christmas gift. The part is often played by ballerinas close to this age.