Bedtime, Rest and Sleep
by Jan Edmunds
Suitable for Key Stage 1
To help children to become aware of the importance of sleep and rest and to try to dispel the feeling of reluctance that some children have when faced with bedtime.
Preparation and materials
- An OHP would be useful to display the poem. If used as a class presentation the lines could be divided up for groups or individuals to read while three others could mime the actions as the story unfolds. Music such as 'Chanson de nuit' by Edward Elgar could be playing as the children enter the room.
- If used with KS2 as well as KS1, use the older children's experience (e.g. 'I used to be afraid of the dark') to help the younger ones. A number of older children will still feel uncertain about many of the issues and might value hearing them discussed 'for the younger ones', without being put on the spot.
- Explain that you are going to read a poem about a little girl called Jasmine and how she behaved at bedtime. Ask the children to listen carefully - perhaps they are a bit like her and have behaved in the same way?
It's the end of the day and it's time for bed
A time little Jasmine seemed always to dread
She'd make excuses to cause a delay
She tried every trick to get her own way.
Her mum and her dad would give her a warning
'You'll be far too tired to get up in the morning.'
Jasmine puffed, put her hands on her hips
She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips,
She stamped her feet, gave angry glares
And was dragged reluctantly up the stairs.
A spell in the bath was a bit more fun
But tantrums began once this session was done.
She'd start again to be stubborn once more,
It always made bedtime a terrible chore.
Poor mum or dad would read her a tale
But as soon as they'd finished she started to wail!
A kiss and a hug, then off went the light
Though the landing light shone for the rest of the night.
Feeling they'd won and the evening was free
The grown-ups then settled to watch the TV.
But soon from the bedroom of dear little daughter
Came a voice crying out for a nice drink of water!
They knew it was just to attract more attention
So they treated the matter with some apprehension.
The programme they watched caused some distraction
Which meant that they took no immediate action.
A few minutes later came no sound at all
The moaning had stopped and so had the call.
Because it was quiet they went up for a peep
To find little Jasmine had fallen asleep!
- Make sure the children understand the poem, and use it for discussion. With young children you might need to talk through some of the longer words.
Ask: why do you think Jasmine behaved in this way? It is interesting to hear their comments about bedtime. Some of them may be able to associate with such an experience. Try to establish why some of them do not like bedtime. It could be fear of the dark, the thought of being left alone, or of not waking up again. (Take care not to be swamped by an overenthusiastic response!)
- You could stress that all living things need rest and sleep. All young animals, babies and small children need a lot of sleep because they are doing a lot of growing. When grown-ups and children alike have been awake all day working or playing their bodies and minds need rest.
- Remind the children that when they sink into their soft, warm and comfortable beds they can feel safe in the knowledge that they are in their own homes and they can be comforted in knowing that there are grown-ups downstairs looking after them. Many young children take a teddy bear or one of their favourite toys and sometimes even a 'comfy' blanket to bed with them. This can make bedtime seem less daunting.
- Suggest that when they close their eyes and drift off into sleep all their worries and fears can be forgotten and the things that seem to bother them are not half so bad the next morning.
- Remind them that while they sleep their bodies are supplied with new strength and energy so that they wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the new day.
- (Optional) In nature many plants and animals rest during the winter months. Some trees shed their leaves and sleep until the springtime when new growth, buds and blossom appear. Seeds and bulbs sleep safely down in the earth away from the cold and harmful frosts of winter until the warmer weather comes, when they push up through the soil and deck the earth in a blaze of colour. Some animals such as hedgehogs and squirrels store food in the autumn and then they hide away in their homes and rest throughout the cold winter months, emerging in the spring. This is called hibernation.
- Help the children to understand that without sleep they would not be able to function properly. When they are ill they feel unable to do things they would normally do; we know that resting helps to make us feel better. So when it is time for bed try to remember that rest and sleep are very important. Encourage them to think of their bed as a safe place to be. If they get overtired it is so much harder to relax and get to sleep. Try to help them understand that their parents also deserve to have a rest and a quiet time together after they have gone to bed.
- The Bible tells us that even God rested on the seventh day after making the earth. References are made to Jesus resting after teaching the people and performing his many miracles. Even he became very tired and needed sleep and rest.
Time for reflection
Let's try to think of bedtime as a happy and pleasant time of the day
and not something we have to fear or make a fuss about.
Think for a few moments about all you've heard
about how important rest and sleep really are to us.
Bring the children's attention to the last verse of the song:
Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting.
Give me peace in my heart I pray.
Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting,
Keep me resting till the break of day.
Let us pray.
Lord, keep us safe this night,
Secure from all our fears.
May angels guard us while we sleep,
Till morning light appears.
'Give me oil in my lamp' (Come and Praise, 43)