Preschool Nap Time Activities

I use many different ways all rolled into one…this way I catch the attention of all of the different personalities. I teach 3 and 4 year olds.

After lunch, the children clean up, potty, and wash. Then, they get their blanket and sleep friend, sit on their mat, and “read” a book to themselves. This is not necessarily a quiet time, but I keep it to a “dull roar.” By the time all the children are done eating and cleaning up, then it’s time to put the books away, turn off the lights and lay down. Each day I have a helper who turns out the lights and chooses a story to listen to (record or tape). We listen to the story at a moderate volume…decreasing gradually as the story continues and as the room becomes quieter. At this time, I am covering the children with their blankets and reminding them to keep their heads down and no talking. When the story is done, I then turn on a smooth jazz station on the radio or listen to a Quiet Time music tape. Those still awake get their backs rubbed for a while.

Our nap time is from 12-2 every day. If a child has not fallen asleep by 1:00, I then give them a quiet activity to do while laying on their mat…flannel graph, small building toys that are quiet, puzzles, coloring, books, etc. These children are the ones that just don’t need naps anymore, and I don’t believe they should be tortured to do so.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over many years is that if I keep the music during naptime at a moderate level in the classroom, the children do not wake up every time someone walks into the room or rummages through a cupboard, or staples something to the wall, etc. My kids can sleep through anything now!!

I have a few children who have trouble laying down for naps, I always have pre-made crowns in my cabinet. I give one to each child who has trouble napping, and tell them that they are a prince, and princesses. They need to sleep like prince and princess. They love the fact that they have their own special crown for napping!

Knowing how I “melt” at my reflexology sessions I started doing foot massages at sleep time – just simple kneading, bending the feet with a tweaking of toes using baby powder (dream dust). Eyes must be shut during the massage and we play Mozart organ music in the background to block out extraneous noises. It has the desired effect on most but its quite funny to see a forest of legs going up into the air when I walk into the room after turning off the light – all wanting their turn.

During nap time I have a favorite tape in which I play only at nap time on the ghetto. It is by Anne Murray the title is called “Hippo in the Bathtub”. The kids really enjoy it. Even the most active ones settle down and listen. Usually, within a month or two the kids are singing quietly along.

for naptimes, I always use a relaxing, “nonverbal” tape such as ocean music or a tape recording of a waterfall or gentle rain, (not a thunderstorm!). I occasionally use a story (particularly for 3-year-olds and older), but I still have been known to use the sound recording as a background to some stories. After lunch or an after-lunch playtime preceding naps, I darken the room and put on the relaxation tape to help the kids “get into the mood” and know what to expect while I prepare cots, mats, or cribs. I circulate around the room to rub backs, and rock or lay with more restless kids. At the end of nap time (or just before the end) I put on a “happy” tape of bouncier sung music to ease them out of sleep. They may go into a nap with some resistance, but even the more stubborn kids usually fall asleep fairly quickly.

I teach 3-year-olds and our nap time is right after lunch. All mats and blankets and pillows are put out while they are eating. After they wash up after potty they go to their mats. I play a compilation of lullabies I taped or “Return to Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins. I remind them at lunch that if they eat nicely and quickly then I will have time to read them a story. Favorites are: “Good Night Moon”, “The Napping House” “Little Bear can’t Sleep”. When I finish reading, I always tell them what a good morning we had and how proud of them I am. They take a little snooze then everyone will feel good and we’ll have a great afternoon. I also find that after naptime and potty again; they like to just sit and be read to until they fully wake up. “The Napping House” is also great for them because it can be read with much more animation and excitement at the end!

I teach 4-year-olds. I make sure their cots are out and ready for a nap. I also make sure the room is going to be dark enough. After lunch I have them read a book on their cot for 10 minutes while listening to Hap Palmers Multicultural Cd or Andrew Lloyd Weber naturally. This allows them to calm down and me to clean up the lunch tables. Then, I have them put their books away and I rub backs. They are asleep in 10 minutes.

I work with 4 and five-year-olds. I have found telling the children that if they want a back rub that they need to rest quietly on their mats and shut their eyes. They love to have their backs rubbed as they listen to a lullaby tape. I also allow them to sleep on a pillow or with a blanket from home. They are able to pick any special nap time friend (a stuffed animal) and lay down with it. This a simple tip, not the most creative, but it works. I also allow any child who isn’t a nap taker to do a puzzle, draw pictures or read a book as long as they’re quiet. I tell them that they need to speak softly and not keep/wake up the other children. I tell them (It’s almost always just one child awake) that they can be my special helper at that time, but I remind them if they wake the others that they won’t be able to be my special helper because that wouldn’t be fair. It really works well, especially for a child who doesn’t always listen to teachers. They feel special and will cooperate easily.

I have recorded on a 90-minute tape some of the most boring classical music I could find (records from the Goodwill store work well). We lay down for nap time right after lunch so that the tummies are full. Be sure to give a filling lunch. I put the music on and within 4-5 minutes all children are asleep. Most of the time the first ones on their beds are already asleep as I am getting the babies changed and on their beds. But the music (no words!) and full tummies seem to be the solution. Also, sleep ‘good’ nappers in between restless nappers.

I spray “Sweet Dream Spray”. I purchase the cheap body spray at the dollar store. Vanilla, peach, watermelon, etc. and I spritz one spray over each child’s mat after they lay down. The kid’s love the smell and are convinced that they will dream wonderful things if they can just fall asleep with the aroma of “Sweet Dream Spray”. Serves as a nice air freshener for all those sweaty bodies too!