Students fill ‘Bedtime Boxes’ with sleep ideas

Fifth graders at Carmel Elementary in Woodstock show off their service project:  "bedtime boxes" and letters filled with helpful suggestions for other kids who have trouble getting to sleep.

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Fifth graders at Carmel Elementary in Woodstock show off their service project: "bedtime boxes" and letters filled with helpful suggestions for other kids who have trouble getting to sleep.

Being stressed out by work, school, current events and life in general isn’t a condition experienced by adults alone. Just ask the fifth graders in Christy Espinoza’s class at Carmel Elementary in Woodstock.

During a morning meeting when everyone shares ideas around character traits to weekend activities, one student admitted having difficulty falling asleep. That set off an avalanche of similar admissions.

“We have a lot of kids struggling with anxiety and depression that’s affecting their rest,” said Espinoza. “You would not think – at least, I did not think – that so many kids had trouble falling asleep, but a lot of them do.”

The conversation quickly morphed into a help session, with kids sharing various ways they relax, calm down and turn off their brains to get a good night’s rest. “They took off with it, and kids were having ‘aha!’ moments,” said Espinoza.

A few weeks later, those suggestions turned into a class service project.

“Projects can be any way of giving back to classmates, our school, the community or the environment, and they don’t necessarily involve monetary purchases,” said Espinoza. “But when someone said they got a night light at the dollar store that helped them get to sleep, and now they were going to buy one for a friend, the idea of creating boxes came up.”

Students asked if they could make boxes and fill them with items to encourage good sleeping habits. They suggested stuffing them with a range of objects: blankets, sketchpads, sleep masks, toothbrushes, pajamas, books and fuzzy socks were a few. The items would come with letters students wrote with suggestions on how to use them: Water bottles can be kept nearby to prevent having to get out of bed for a sip; eye masks can block light that might disrupt a snooze; fuzzy socks and blankets can add an extra layer of comfort.

It wasn’t long before the initial goal of four or five boxes was surpassed.

“By the end, we were able to make 14 ‘bedtime boxes’ filled with 10 to 12 items,” said Espinoza. “And we wound up with a variety of containers. I got some baskets from Dollar Tree; someone decorated a shoebox with bedtime themes. There wasn’t one-size-fits-all or on look. They were all unique.”

Espinoza reached out to the school’s guidance counselors and other teachers to identify students who could benefit from the boxes. Several responded quickly that they had students who struggled with sleep. But rather than have the teacher deliver the packages, Espinoza had her students present them.

“It’s made such an impact because they can see the child they’re helping, see the smile on their face,” she said.

Information about Carmel Elementary is online at cherokeek12.net/carmeles.


SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at hm_cauley@yahoo.com or 770-744-3042.