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Lesson Plans
Sleep and Energy

Sleep studies show that sleep deprivation problems can start with children as young as toddlers. Lack of sleep can make it difficult for young children to concentrate in school and can cause them to have problems working and playing with their peers. See if focusing on sleep can help your students do their best in school.

Purpose: To help students see the connections between sleep, energy, and having a good day at school.

Background Tips on Young Children and Sleep
  • Keeping a regular bedtime routine makes it easier for a child to fall asleep quickly and awaken feeling rested and alert.
  • Playing action-packed games, watching TV, or rough-housing 20 minutes before bedtime can cause sleeping problems. Bedtime stories help a child relax and go to sleep.
  • A heavy meal close to bedtime can cause a child to have trouble sleeping.
  • Colas and other caffeine drinks can keep a child awake or make him or her restless during the night. Remember, chocolate has caffeine.
  • If the bedroom is too warm or too cold, a child may find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • Televisions and other bright or loud distractions should be kept away from the bedroom.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers need as much as 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night.

Materials: Bulletin board, chart paper and markers, construction paper cut into 3" x 9" strips, paper clips, string or yarn, thumbtacks, and printouts of Know Kit Cards Ages 3-4 (PDF) card #3.

Preparation: Print the two pictures of Ali Rabbit from card #3 (PDF). Place the sleepy picture on one side of the bulletin board, and place the high-energy picture on the other. Thumbtack a length of string or yarn between the two pictures. Place large numbers (1–5) along the string, with spaces between them.

Create a sleep chart below the string. (See sample below.)

I wish I were in bed now.
I'm still tired.
I'm okay, but a little tired.
I feel good today.
I'm wide awake and ready to go.

Procedure: Distribute the 3"x 9" sheets of construction paper and markers. Have students write and decorate their names on the construction paper for name tags. For younger students, you may need to write their names and just have them decorate the tags.

In a large or small group, or as individuals walk in, ask students how they feel.

  • Are you sleepy?
  • Do you feel tired?
  • Do you feel wide awake and ready to go?
  • How did you sleep last night?
  • Did you have trouble falling asleep?
  • Was it hard to get up this morning?
  • What did you do just before you went to bed?

Talk to students about the "Feel Good Line" on the bulletin board. Which picture shows how they feel now? Have they ever felt like Ali Rabbit? When? Why? What can you do to sleep better? Longer?

Have students think about how they feel based on the "Feel Good Line." Then, use paper clips to attach their names to the string at or between the numbers that best describe how they feel.

Next, count the number of students' names close to the 1. Write this number in the proper place on the chart. Continue across the line. Have students talk about the class as a whole. Will today be a good day for almost everyone? Will today be difficult because many people are sleepy and might be grouchy?

Continue the process throughout the week. By Friday, are students talking more about getting to sleep earlier? Are students who get more sleep more focused in school? Do they get along better with their peers?

Optional Procedure for Older Students: Have students calculate how long they slept the night before. Have them place this number on their name tags before they hang them on the "Feel Good Line." Or, if possible, have cutouts available representing the numbers of hours the students slept for them to use as name tags. This way, the visual is clear-the larger the number, the more likely a student is high up on the "Feel Good Line."

Teaching Note: Involve parents in your efforts to help children understand the importance of sleep and the way to solve sleeping problems. Download, print, copy, and distribute the Building Blocks Sleep Diary (PDF) for students to take home and complete each day with their family.

Related Family Article: Monitoring Your Child's Sleep


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Updated on 3/22/2014