Kimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book AuthorKimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book Author
Kimiko Kajikawa, Children's Book Author

Lesson Plans for Sweet Dreams: How Animals Sleep (Grades K-2)

An excellent book to accompany wild animals, endangered species, health, and sleep curriculum.


After completing the following lesson plans from Sweet Dreams, students will:

  • Understand that different animals — including humans — sleep in different environments and have different sleep behaviors.
  • Describe the sleeping habits of many different animals.
  • Explain why children need 10-11 hours of sleep per day.
  • Discuss the factors that can influence the quality of their sleep.
  • Analyze their current waking and sleeping patterns and create a healthier schedule.
  • Create original pieces of writing.
  • Participate in read aloud and inquiry-based research activities.
  • Explore various internet and print resources and share the discoveries of their research.
  • Identify where different animal species live.
  • Write, illustrate, and share an animal picture book.

Reading a Poem

Read the poem Sweet Dreams out loud several times. Listen for rhyme and rhythm patterns. Then, have students write their own poem about sleep.

Discussion Questions

  • How many students have pets? Have you noticed your pets sleeping? What do they look and sound like when they are asleep?
  • What are some strange places that animals sleep?
  • Where do you like to sleep?
  • How do you look when you sleep? (Encourage children to model sleeping poses for one another.)
  • What kinds of sounds do you think you make while you sleep? What kind of sounds do you think some of the animals in the book make when they sleep?
  • What is the funniest thing about the way you sleep?
  • Do you take naps during the day?
  • Why do all animals — including humans — need sleep?
  • What do you do before you go to bed to help you get a good night's sleep? (brush teeth, put on pajamas, read bedtime stories, etc.)
  • Do you think you are getting enough sleep? Why or why not?
  • What would happen if you had a loud cuckoo clock in your bedroom? What about a buzz saw? Would the noise help you sleep or not?
  • Imagine that your bed was made of stone, would you sleep better or worse? What if your bed was made of leaves?


How many hours do you usually sleep? Compare this with the other students in the class. Then, compare the hours you sleep with the hours that each of the animals' sleep from the "How Long They Sleep" table at the end of the book. Ask the students why they think different animals need different amounts of sleep. (This is a good time to emphasize that human children need 10-11 hours of sleep per day.)

What are some ways that animals sleep that are similar to the ways that you sleep? What are some ways that are different?

Good Sleep Habits

The #1 tip for good sleeping habits is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for a child to relax, fall asleep, and sleep through the night. Discuss with your students things that help and hinder them from getting a good night's sleep.

Good bedtime routines:

  1. Going to bed around the same time each night.
  2. Drinking a glass of milk.
  3. Having a light snack.
  4. Taking a warm bath or shower.
  5. Making sure the room is quiet and comfortable.
  6. Reading a story.
  7. Turning off bright lights.

Bad bedtime routines:

  1. Going to bed very late or at different times every night
  2. Drinking caffeine (soda, iced tea, etc.).
  3. Having a large meal or snack.
  4. Exercising right before bed.
  5. Loud noises (keeping the television or radio on).
  6. Playing video games.
  7. Leaving bedroom lights on.

Sleep Internet Links

Garfield Star Sleeper Web Site:
Garfield and the National Institutes of Health have teamed up to create a great web site that is fun and teaches children about the importance of sleep. It contains information about sleep along with games and fun downloadable worksheets for teachers. The activities include a sleep diary. Ask your students to keep their own sleep diaries so that they can explore the connection between the number of hours they sleep each night and their energy levels.

Sleep for Kids: Teaching Kids the Importance of Sleep:
In this website, a service of the National Sleep Foundation, students will learn about what happens while we sleep, play fun games, and keep track of their sleep. Teachers will find sleep information, a classroom guide, and printable activities to use in the classroom.

Guess the Animal

Assign each student an animal from Sweet Dreams. Give each student one index card and have them research their assigned animal using print and online resources (see below for the suggested internet links from the book). Tell the students to jot down 8-10 clues about their animals on their index cards. For example, "This animal sleeps most of the day and night," or "This animal sleeps upside down." When students have completed their research, invite each student to present a clue and allow the rest of the class to guess the animal. The presenter can give clues until the audience has guessed the animal. Once the animal is revealed, the presenter should share the rest of the clues and any additional information about the animal with the class.

Animal Internet Links

Animal Diversity Web:

BBC Science and Nature:

Electronic Zoo:

San Diego Zoo:

Sea World:

Draw and Describe Your Bedroom

Pass out paper and crayons or markers. Have students draw their bedroom. Ask them to include all the items that help them sleep at night (nightlight, stuffed animals, pillow, blanket, books). Then, have students write a description about their bedroom. Tell them to study their image for ideas to best describe it. Have them include details that would help someone who has never been to their room picture it.

Write and Illustrate a Book

Have each student pick an animal from Sweet Dreams. Ask each student to make a big book in the shape of their animal. Have students research information to include in the book. Ask them to illustrate the pages with their own drawings or with pictures found from the internet. Encourage your class to share their books with other students and grade levels.

Where Do They Live?

Have students work in pairs. Assign each pair an animal from the book and have them research and create a display on a map that shows the location(s) of their animal around the world. Students should search for facts about the animals' habitats. Then, have students discuss their findings with the class.


Using the appropriate elements, apply the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during these lessons:

  • Three points: Students were highly engaged in class discussions; fulfilled all requirements of assignment; project carefully prepared; reflected in-depth and thorough research; during group work, the group worked well together; presentation well organized.
  • Two points: Students participated in class discussions; fulfilled most requirements of assignment; project satisfactorily prepared; reflected adequate research; during group work, the group worked well together most of the time; presentation satisfactory.
  • One point: Students participated minimally in class discussions; fulfilled few requirements of assignment; reflected inadequate research; project carelessly prepared; during group work, the group had problems working together; presentation disorganized.

Suggested Readings

The Napping House by Audrey Wood (author) and Don Wood (illustrator). This book has been a bedtime favorite for the past twenty years. It has everything from the cozy bed, the snoring granny, the dreaming child, the dozing dog . . . and the unexpected visitor who wakes up the house on a rainy afternoon of napping.

Sleep Is for Everyone (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Paul Showers. This classic Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book shows how animals and people sleep and what happens when they don't get their rest.

Where Do I Sleep? : A Pacific Northwest Lullaby by Jennifer Blomgren. A tranquil bedtime poem highlighting animals of the Pacific Northwest. Learn the sleeping habits of a dozen and a half different creatures, from sea otters and bald eagles to moose, gray whales, and anemone.

Where Wild Babies Sleep by Ann Purmell (author) and Lorianne Siomades (illustrator). The opening question, "Do you know where wild babies sleep?" leads to pages of sleeping baby animals who are watched over by a protective parent.


Definition: A living organism that can move on its own and has specialized sense organs and nervous system.
Context: Aristotle divided the living world between animals and plants.

Definition: The shelter or retreat of a wild animal.
Context: The black bear builds a winter den in a hollow tree, rock cave, or brush pile.

Definition: A warm-blooded animal that has hair or fur, produces milk, and bears young.
Context: Bats are the only truly flying mammals.

Definition: A class of animals with common physical features.
Context: There are many species of bat. Some species, such as the sheath-tailed bat and the Bulmer's fruit bat are endangered.

Definition: The natural state of bodily rest observed throughout the animal kingdom, in all mammals and birds, and in many reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
Context: The National Sleep Foundation reports that adequate sleep improves energy, memory, problem solving, and overall health.


These lesson plans address the following K-2 national standards:

Subject area: Health
Standard: Understands the influence of rest, food choices, exercise, sleep, and recreation on a person's well-being.
Benchmarks: Describes relationships between personal health behaviors and individual well-being.

Subject area: Health
Standard: Understands and demonstrates ways in which his or her health and well-being can be enhanced and maintained.
Benchmarks: Demonstrates strategies to improve or maintain personal health.

Subject area: Language Arts
Standard: Gathers and uses information for research purposes.
Benchmarks: Uses a variety of sources to gather information.

Subject area: Language Arts
Standard: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
Benchmarks: Uses writing and other methods to describe familiar persons, places, objects, or experiences. Uses strategies to edit and publish written work.

Subject area: Language Arts
Standard: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
Benchmarks: Understands that print conveys meaning (i.e., knows that printed letters and words represent spoken language)

Subject area: Language Arts
Standard: Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning.
Benchmarks: Listens and responds to a variety of listening forms, such as stories, poems, rhymes, and songs.

Subject area: Life Science
Standard: Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks: Knows that living things are found almost everywhere in the world; different types of plants and animals live in different places.

Subject area: Life Science
Standard: Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Benchmarks: Knows that plants and animals have external features that help them thrive in different environments.

Subject area: Science and Technology
Standard: Understands the scientific enterprise.
Benchmarks: Understands that in science it is helpful to work with a team and share findings with others.



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