My absolute favorite time of day so far this year is quiet time. Right when we get back from lunch the kids go sit on the carpet. We keep the lights off and I put in this CD with quiet music (I got it years ago on a morning Starbucks run and it is seriously the best kids music album ever- Sarah McClachlan singing The Rainbow Connection? Yes, please). In baskets beside the carpet I have books- one basket for books we've read as a class, one for books we've written, and another set of whatever social studies/science theme we're studying (right now it's back to school books). The kids get cozy with books for a few minutes while we calm down from the excitement of the cafeteria and try to regroup for the afternoon.
This group of kids loves quiet time. I find myself saying, "You can read it again during quiet time" all day long because all they want to do is get their hands on our read alouds.
So far this year I don't have a lunch time or a planning block so I'm usually frantically eating my own lunch while watching quiet time take place. In just six days it's become this totally independent event. The kids each get one of their favorite books and "read". The carpet isn't exactly quiet- one girl is rocking out to Pete the Cat while another is re-enacting a Piggy & Gerald story- but they are each independently absorbed in a book for an extended period of time. There is nothing better than looking up to see five children totally immersed in texts.
One little girl was essentially non-verbal the first few days of school. Except when we read Pete the Cat. Now during quiet time she reads loudly and with authority. "Rocking in my school shoes!" she sings, and then turns the page. "Goodness no!" she exclaims, and turns the page again to sing the book one more time. No adult near her, no one telling her to stay on the carpet, do her job, turn the pages correctly, or read the book. Nothing but self motivated reading.
I love my job.