Preschool Nap Time Activities

At a recent workshop I learned two excellent transitioning stratigies! One was for transitioning into naptime, which can be one of the toughest transitions of the day! Go to Toys R Us, or even to a dollar store and pick up a play wand, something fun with lots of glitter and sequins! At naptime walk slowly around the room and find the children that are resting quietly, say something like ” Oh, I like how Mandy is resting quietly, I think she is ready for the naptime wand!” Then rub the child’s back gently with the wand and sing “Goodnight Mandy, Goodnight Mandy, Goodnight Mandy, It’s time to rest right now.” The other children will want to be next for the naptime wand and will quiet down! It works very well in my class. It makes the child feel that they are really recieving something special, and the one on one closeness that you will share with each child for those few moments help them to calm down.

I have a stack of “nap time” books. These are books that have a calming effect on the children. The books are intended to be read in a soft spoken, nurturing type of voice. Afterwards everyone finds their cot (same place it always is)lays down and I play lullaby music the whole time they are sleeping. I have found it is comforting to the children to awake with the same environment that they went to sleep in. I find nap time very relaxing. Sometimes I have a child who will request to have his back rub.

Children aged 2 1/2 to 4 are in my classroom. Usually just before lunch we have 5mins of circle time so that the children settle down and quiet themselves. After lunch they do their jobs – potty, wash hands and mouth with soap. We close the blinds down and take most of the lights off. We allow the children to choose three Dr. Seuss books and whisper read for 10 mins on their mat, shoes are off and they are allowed one stuffed animal from home and of course their blanket. They are not allowed to talk to each other or get off of their mats for anything else. After 10 mins we choose two children to be book collectors and one of the three teachers in my classroom will read a chapter from our chapter book. Currently we are reading Mr. Poppins Penguins. Sometimes we use a taped story from our listening center then read a chapter from Mr. Poppins Penguins. Story time is limited to 20mins. By the time we are through, 95% of 18 children are asleep with no teacher assistant and the 5% need only minimal assistance. I hope this works as wonderful for others as well.

Everyone has a bottle of lotion that they do not use, or maybe don’t like. I took mine and turned it into “sleep lotion” , it works much like sleeping dust. After everyone has gotten on their mats, I go around and give each child a little of the lotion. I drew a pic. of a child sleeping in a bed and taped it to the front of the bottle to cover up the name. The children slowly rub it into their hands, it helps them relax, and they are still and sleepy in no time.

I wrote this song to sing (quietly) at naptime to the tune of “A Hunting we will Go” My hands have gone to sleep. My hands have gone to sleep. They cannot move or make a peep. My hands have gone to sleep. Continue to sing this song substituting the words eyes, lips, feet, arms, legs, etc. I used to sing this to my two boys when they were toddlers and it worked great!

For the past few months I have been reading Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman type rhyming stories at the start of naptime. The rhythm and rhyme seems to have a calming effect for most of my kids. The rule is everyone has to be laying down on their cots. The group ranges in age from 2 1/2 to older 4’s. The older kids are providing some of the rhyming words and the younger ones are beginning to catch on. If you read in a quiet voice, eyes begin to droop as you near the end of your story. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but give it a try!

My son is in daycare, in a room of 3 – 5 year olds. Some of them don’t take naps anymore. I have made “Cot Bags” for quiet time during naps. The children can only play with these on their cots. Inside a ziplock bag is a book and a related action figure. For instance, I put a small plush pooh bear in with a Winnie the Pooh book. I buy these things at Goodwill, and actually spend very little money on them. The children enjoy the Cot Bags and even hurry up eating lunch so they can get to the bags quicker.

In order for naptime to be beneficial for everyone involved, it must be organized and the children must understand the routinue. While my children are eating lunch, I put their restmats out and start to play their resttime music “Return To Pooh Corner” by Kenny Loggins. This is full of wonderful songs that the children know, and it is also a signal to them to start to relax. After lunch and bathroom, the children lay down. They are not allowed to have anything on their restmats except for their blanket, and a stuffed animal. Within a few minutes, the majority of them are sleeping. Now, after seeing the other children sleeping, my non-sleepers have actually started to rest, much to the amazement of their parents.

I taught 2 year olds and what worked for me was to read Margert Wise Brown’s Good Night Moon consistently everyday. The children read along with me and at the end, we all say good night. I say good night to each child by name and then they go to their mat. I always play some sort of instrumental music, whether its classical or new age. It has to be quiet and no lyrics though. It works wonders! Of course there is always backs to be rubbed and I always start with the energetic ones. I had many children that would lay down and sleep without all the fuse. Hope these ideas help some one!

At nap time, I always have the same routine so the kids know when it’s time to settle down. I do not close the blinds or put the music on until everyone is finished going to the bathroom, brushing their teeth, etc. And when I do, the kids know it’s time to sleep!