You may not have many siblings in your classroom, but many of your children will have brothers and sisters, some younger and/or some older. Help the children in your class learn to act as role models and be responsible for one another. Forming strong, lasting relationships is a primary protective factor and sets the stage for supportive relationships throughout a child’s life.
To help students experience responsible behavior toward one another through participation in class activities that emphasize how positive behaviors produce healthy relationships.
- Construction paper of different colors, drawing supplies, and craft items;
- Plain or lined paper for writing sentences;
- Scissors and glue; and
- Stories about sibling relationships, such as Babies Don't Eat Pizza by Dianne Danzig and Debbie Tilley or The Berenstain Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
- Share a story about sibling relationships. Talk with the class about their siblings. For children who have no siblings, do they have a family member (like a cousin) or a neighbor who is is similar to a sibling? Do they do things together? What is their favorite thing to do with their brother or sister? (Answers will vary, but may include playing together, sharing food, going to the playground or park.) Have the students discuss how it feels to be a big brother/sister or little brother/sister. If they could choose one thing that they would like to do with a sibling, what would it be?
- Pair the students and tell them that they are going to be “pretend” brothers and sisters in the classroom. Have each pair sit next to each other in a circle and at lunch and snack times. During the activity, have them take turns acting as the “younger” or the “older” sibling.
- Ask the older child of each pair to find out something the younger would like the elder to teach them: a song, how to jump, how to draw a tree, how to button a shirt, etc. (You will have to make sure that the suggestions are age-appropriate and can be done in the classroom.)
- After the learning activities have been chosen, allow sufficient time for the activity to be completed. Completion could just mean that the younger child has increased his/her skill level, rather than performs the act perfectly.
- Next, have the children switch roles as they determine a new activity.
- In your next circle/sharing time, ask volunteers to share their activities with the class. How did it feel to play the big sister/brother? How did it feel to play the little sister/brother? Encourage them to enter similar learning arrangements at home with a sibling or a cousin—a younger one and an older one.
"Getting Along Together: Developing Social Competence in Young Children" from PBS
Home Programs: give parents tools to help children form satisfying
"Sibling Rivalry” from KidsHealth: discusses why kids fight and what you can do to help them get along."
From Gerber: Start Healthy, Stay Healthy:
“Getting Siblings Involved with Baby” provides ideas for helping a young child deal with the arrival of a new addition; suggests ways for child to help.
“Helping With Baby: Siblings Lend a Hand” gives more ways for young children to help with younger siblings.