Preschool Nap Time Activities

Naptime has been a real fight since we are in a portable building next to a construction site for our new school. So have a floating time. During this time, we see who can float the quietest on their mat. I tell them that only those that can keep still will stay afloat. It is amazing how quickly they are quiet and some even sleep. Later on in the year, I change it to ZYLAR time. Zylar is short for zip your lips and read. They love being zylarized as much as they love floating.

I used to teach K-4 and I entered into teaching a class that had had 8 teachers throughout the year and was known to be the worst class. I Loved that class with all my heart and found a relaxation tape to play at nap time where they listen to the tape and did what it said…like lay down and get comfortable with your legs straight, your eyes closed, imagine you are floating on a fluffy cloud through the night sky. Reach out and grab a star or 2…etc. It worked like a charm! Every child was asleep within just a few minutes.

We hung Christmas lights around the border of the room, which we only turn on at naptime. The children love their “nightlight.” It makes the room so pretty and relaxing. We also listen to soothing music.

I sometimes have used those plastic containers that are filled with tiny objects floating around water and oil mixed together. The children get mesmerized by the slow motion and drifts off to sleep.

I have a 3yr old class, so settling down for nap can be hectic. Before nap time my class has child/teacher initiated activities outside or in the gym, so they are pretty wound up. When its nap time we go to the room and get mats out. Everyone lays out their own mat with teachers help after they have gone to the potty, washed hands and had a small drink of water. I (or the teacher in charge of nap) makes sure that each mat is side by side with the heads of the mats switching every other way. That way each child’s head is between two children feet. This really works. It keeps them from chatting at nap time and they fall asleep quicker. I also have a tape of some sort playing really low, usually relaxing sounds such as the waves at the beach or the noises in the forest. These tapes can be purchased at a Hallmark store. I hope this works for you as good as it does for me.

The very best naptime idea of all time is to have a musically talented staff member softly play lullabies on the guitar as the kids drift off to sleep. I also discovered after years of rushing to get the naptime routine done, it works much better to just let the kids take their sweet time getting themselves ready – potting, drinks, etc. Also, at our center we’re big on children learning self-help skills, so we put the mats out, but the children get their own sheets and blankets out and put them on with assistance from a friend if needed. It’s a nice change from the rushed way we used to do it, and the kids seem ready to rest after this period of unstructured time. Then the lights go out and the music begins.

I’m not sure if this is any different from what you all are doing, but this is what we do at St. Mary’s Day Care. We label all the cots/mats with numbers and then we have piece of washable board. We use permanent marker to draw rectangles of where the cots go. Then we use dry erase markers to put numbers and the children’s names in the rectangles for the week. Only one child for that cot number. We change the cots sheets and wash them weekly. This chart is hanging up on the wall for all the staff workers to view. We play all kinds of music like classical, Country Western, light rock, and tapes of the ocean. We rub backs. To make this transition go smooth we dim the lights and have the cots out with their own blanket or stuffed animal. Hope this helps with the stress level.

My favorite CD is “Warm And Tender” by Olivia Newton-John. The kids can’t make it past the first song “Jenny Rebecca”. My own son, a child with Autism, who had a very difficult time settling down couldn’t make it through the first song.

I really don’t have problems with the children taking naps because by the time it is nap time, they are really tired. I turn off the lights and sometimes I will turn on the sounds of nature video w/ gospel hymns playing softly in the background. Very soothing.

I use this idea only during the Christmas season, but it seems magical to the kids. We turn off all of the lights except the ones on the tree. Then I pick a Christmas story to read. All of the children gather around me and the tree with their blankets or stuffed animals. I read the book in a whisper voice so that they have to be quiet to hear it. At the end of the story they tiptoe back to their mats and I put in instrumental Christmas music to snooze to. The sleepers are out immediately and the no sleepers usually stare at the Christmas lights dreaming of Santa.