I play classical music at naptime in my room. I also play Sleepy Time songs. This is a favorite of the little ones. The room is set up to promote a quiet resting environment. I also have a laminated sign on the outside of my door that reads, “Shhhhhhhh it is naptime for Pre – K” I also request that the office turn our intercom off so that the children are not startled awake by announcements. We can still contact the office if we need to.
To make nap or rest time more novel, we like to pretend we are camping out. We make our cots or just bring a pillow over to the circle time rug and stretch out on the floor. We turn off the lights and I use a flashlight to point out different things in the room. Then I open a book, we really like Can’t You Sleep Little Bear?, and then I use the flashlight to highlight the pictures or text. Before long we are all relaxed and ready for a nap.
Teachers aren’t the only ones who need to relax and de-stress. Children are also highly stressed. To help relax the students at a quiet time or nap time, I use a fountain (you can make your own or use a commercially purchased one that is so popular now) and let the children listen to the gentle flow of the water. Sometimes I will say things like…” it sounds like it is raining” or I will stretch and make yawning and stretching sounds and deep breathing sounds to encourage the children to imitate me. It helps us all relax and even if we don’t nap, we come back to the schedule of the day calmer and happier.
I teach 3 to 5 year olds. I read them a story from our library or a story one of my children has brought in from home. After the story I help all the children with their blankets. Then I read a chapter from a chapter book. We are reading Charlotte’s Web right now. I explain to the children they can see the pictures when they close their eyes. They love this sometimes they ask for more than one chapter to be read. After we finish the story we are talking about watching the movie.
At nap time, I have a CD that I put on for the kids of rainforest sounds. They absolutely love this and it relaxes them and they fall quickly asleep. Most of the sounds are like crickets and frogs and birds, but it’s really quite serene and beautiful.
My 4’s are learning to tell time now, and many are also outgrowing naps. To accommodate children who do not sleep, I ask that everyone lie “still and quiet” for half an hour. (’til the big hand is on the twelve!) At that time, I come around to each child who is still awake with a basket of “water toys”, and each chooses a favorite. The water toys can be bought or made. Store-bought toys have sand or oil droplets that flow gently. Homemade water toys can be made from small plastic containers; fill with a mixture of colored water and mineral oil, or fill with mineral oil or corn syrup and add glitter, confetti, ribbon curls or other small materials. Be sure to hot glue the lids very securely! These toys make no noise, and the slow, drifting colors and materials actually sooth the children. Many drift off to sleep with toy in hand! Of course, you’ll want to let the children know that these toys are to be tipped slowly, and never shaken or banged!
This idea was thought up by one of my assistants – great idea – At nap time we use school purchased cots. We also have cot sheets for each of our cots that I reuse each year that hold up very well. I tried putting masking tape on each child’s cot with their name on the frame of the cot in a visible spot so we could tell which cot was which. Some of the children could not resist peeling the tape off their cots (I have 3 year olds)! We wash our cot sheets once a week, along with their pillow and pillowcases. My assistant suggested we write a child’s name on an index card and put double stick tape on the back of the index card then stick this card under their pillow on the cot sheet. When we are putting out cots we can see whose cot we are putting out. The kids just love seeing their name on their cot in their spot. Most of the time, every day at nap time, they pick up their pillow to look to make sure they are on their cot!! This helps with name recognition and it is easy to do!
Our naptime is right after lunch. There are three rooms of 4-year-olds going down at the same time. We all play our choice of quiet music or sounds to block out noises from other rooms. Something that I found for me that works quite well– I tell the children that when they are lying still I will come and cover them and rub their back. During this time I sing to them quietly. They love this personal time and settle quickly. Even the children that Never go to sleep will settle for a while. After everyone has had their ‘love’ and is tucked in I turn on the cassette. I find that this is a great time to show the children nurturing love and bond with them better.
To assure a peaceful rest time, we allow the children to bring a special stuffed animal or blanket from home. This makes them feel safe and comfortable. We send the blankets home every week for their parents to clean them. We also play soft music such as Mozart to calm the children. We have been very successful with these ideas.
I work with preschoolers and I always have trouble getting some of the children to sleep, so I drew a bed on a piece of poster board and made an animal for every child in the class and it had their name on it. If they took a nap, they could put their animal on the bed. It has been working great!!!