Early to bed, early to shine is a good maxim, but one that many active preschoolers may rebel against. There are simply too many distractions - a T.V. program, a computer game, other games, and so on - and finally it is one very exhausted kid that goes to sleep, to be shaken awake the next morning to meet the daycare/play school and/or parents' schedules. Regular bedtime drama can fray nerves all around, lack of sleep can make kids irritable and crotchety, and long-term sleep deprivation can lead to ill health. So it’s better to establish a strict bedtime schedule and adhere to it, culling out the distractions. Help children turn bedtime into a relaxed, fun, learning experience with this rest and sleep lesson plan. As one poet said, a happy day must be rounded off with a happy sleep.
- Drawing sheets
- Colors - markers, water-color, gouache, pastels, colored pencils, etc.
- A CD of lullabies
- A comfortable bed in a well-ventilated bedroom
Begin this rest and sleep lesson plan by talking to the preschoolers about sleep. At what time do they sleep? Do they sleep only at night or do they take a nap in the afternoon? Ask them what would happen if they didn’t sleep at all. Could they work or play all the time? Wouldn’t they get tired?
Tell them that the reason we sleep is because our body needs time to rest, to give us more energy for our activities for the next part of the day or the following day.
Discuss whether it’s more comfortable to sleep on a bed, on a sofa or a rug. Talk about bedtime items like a bed-sheet, a cover and a pillow.
Talk about before bed activities. What do the preschoolers do? Change into pajamas or nightie? Do they have a glass of milk? Do they bathe and brush their teeth? Do their brush their hair? Do their parents read to them or tell them a story or sing a lullaby?
Discuss the benefits of sleeping early. You get more rest. You wake up brighter and fresher. You can be up in time for school. Your parents can go to work on time.
Talk about why we sleep longer at night than during the day. Talk about how some people who work at night or creatures like owls and bats sleep longer in the day and stay awake at night.
Talk about the way we sleep. Some people like to stretch out, others like to curl up. Some are comfortable sleeping on their back, others on their front and others on their side. Talk about how animals, birds, insects and fish sleep. Sloths and bats, for instance, like to sleep upside down. Birds usually tuck their heads under their wings to sleep. Insects go very still and many fish sleep with their eyes open.
Talk about how we dream when we go to sleep. Tell the preschoolers that thinking pleasant thoughts before going to sleep can lead to pleasant dreams.
Tell the preschoolers the story of Rip Van Winkle who slept so long he awoke many years later.
Read a poem about sleep. Here are two suggestions:
- Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
- R.L. Stevenson’s ‘Seal Lullaby’
What else to do
Hand out drawing sheets and have the preschoolers draw and paint bedtime scenes. They can draw:
- Their bedrooms
- Something they dreamed about
- Scenes of a sleeping town
Bring your rest and sleep lesson plan to a close by listening to Brahm’s Lullaby.