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Can't you sleep, little one?

To think about light and darkness and how they affect us.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To think about light and darkness and how they affect us.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a copy of the book Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?  by Martin Waddell (illustrated by Barbara Firth, Walker Books, ISBN: 9781844284917).
  • A globe and a torch (optional).
  • A picture of a sunrise and/or sunset.


  1. Ask the children how many have read the book Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? Ask some children to share the problems the little bear had and how big bear helped. Ask if any of them have had that problem. If appropriate you could recap the story and read extracts.
  2. Explain that many children are having a problem getting to sleep at nights at the moment. Can anyone guess what the problem is? It is actually the exact opposite of darkness. It is because it is so light outside.

    Allow the children to share if they have this problem and what their parents or carers might do about it. You could suggest that if children can’t get to sleep when it is light there are some things they could try:

    Look at a book for a few moments, but choose a favourite book, not one that might set your mind racing while you think about it – so definitely not a scary book.

    Close your eyes and think about all the things you did in the day that’s just passed, then start to think about all the things you’d like to do tomorrow.

    Don’t do anything too active, try to lie still while you are thinking or looking at your book.

    If you have a cuddly toy, settle your toy down to sleep too!
  3. Ask the children to share what they enjoy about dark nights/light nights. Would the children prefer equal hours of daylight and darkness all year round?
  4. Point out that darkness has its place and so does light. It is easier for most people to go to sleep when it is dark – in fact darkness makes us feel sleepy – and we need the light for doing all the things we do during the day.
  5. In some places, like Africa, the days and nights are equal in length all year round. In some places at times the daylight is longer than the darkness, while in other places the darkness is longer than the daylight. But there is always evening and there is always morning, another day.

Time for reflection


Spend a few moments looking at the picture of a sunrise or sunset. The night time and the morning give us all a new start, every single day!



Dear God,

Thank you that you made our beautiful world.

Thank you for each new day.

Thank you for the long summer days and evenings which we can enjoy.



‘He’s got the whole world, in his hand’ (Come and Praise, 19)

Appropriate verses for today’s theme might be: ‘He’s got the sun and moon, in his hand’; ‘He’s got the clouds and stars, in his hand’; ‘He’s got the summer and winter, in his hand’.

Publication date: June 2008   (Vol.10 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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