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Creating a Calming Transition to Naptime

Dec 12, 2023    |   Early Learning Spaces & Routines

Naptime is an important part of the day for young children. Having an opportunity to rest gives children a chance to relax, and it helps to support healthy growth and development. In ECE classrooms and programs, it is important to have a relaxing routine to transition children from play time to rest time so that they can unwind and get ready for a restful sleep. 

In this article, we share some tips for helping little ones prepare to calm their bodies and minds for naptime, including some of our favorite pre-nap stories, available as beautifully illustrated books and as video read-alouds. 

Tips for Creating a Peaceful Napping Environment

Little ones can find it difficult to transition from playing to resting, so you’ll want to help them unwind by creating a serene nap space and a relaxing pre-nap routine. Following are tips for setting up a nap environment that helps children wind down and get ready for napping. 

  • Dim or turn off the lights. A bright room can be very difficult to rest in. Dimming the lights is a helpful way to create a feeling of calm and relaxation for young children.
  • Play peaceful music or sounds in the background. While you read the book, play calming instrumental music or ocean sounds at a low volume in the background. These kinds of sounds can help to calm the brain and let it know that it is time to rest.
  • Speak in a low volume as you share a relaxing story. While reading the story, speak softly and keep your voice low. This is a way to model to little ones that it is time to become quiet and calm. 

Peaceful Naptime Children’s Books

The Napping House

This popular children’s book, written by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Don Wood, tells the story of a “napping house,” in which “everyone is sleeping.” The book’s illustrations are in calming, blue colors and the images depict a fluffy, cozy bed in a serene setting. The story has a hint of humor, and simple text, making it engaging for young children. 

Find The Napping House book available for purchase here or enjoy a free read-aloud video on Youtube.

Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey

This peaceful story, by Emily Winfield Martin, invites little ones to snuggle into bed and discover what their dream animal might be. This children’s book has song-like rhyming text and unique illustrations with peaceful imagery of the night sky. The end of the story invites children to go to sleep and see what animals are waiting for them in their dreams.

Find the Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey book available for purchase here or enjoy a free read-aloud video on Youtube.

Before We Sleep

This relaxing story by Giorgio Volpe and illustrated by Paolo Proietti, tells the tale of a red fox and gray mouse who play in their forest home as they get ready for hibernation. As the time for sleep nears, the two friends share one last story, knowing they will be together again in the spring. 

Find the Before We Sleep book available for purchase here or enjoy a free read-aloud video on Youtube.

Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep!

This cozy winter story, written by Maureen Wright and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, tells the story of Big Bear, as he prepares to to hibernate. Old Man Winter keeps telling him, “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep.” But Big Bear doesn’t hear very well and he thinks Old Man Winter has told him to sweep, and leap. This book’s rhyming text, hint of humor, and peaceful illustrations will be enjoyed by young children as they get ready for their own restful sleep. 

Find the Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep! book available for purchase here or enjoy a free read-aloud video on Youtube.

Visit How to Make Nap Time More Peaceful, an article from the G2K archives, to see more ideas for ensuring a restful, restorative naptime.

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