I received a suggestion from a friend asking that I describe an activity that would foster both reading and relationships among siblings. Well, not in so many words, but that's the direction I'm going with it.
Let's suppose you have a pre-reader (we'll call her Frannie) and an early reader (we'll call him Will) in your home. There are several activities your children can do together that will introduce reading and phonemic awareness concepts to little Frannie while cementing those same concepts for big Will.
Nursery rhymes make great read alouds for siblings to share. Since Will probably has many of the rhymes nearly completely memorized, the reading task will not be too challenging or intimidating for him. Reading the same rhymes over and over to Frannie will help Will build his reading skills and speed while delighting his sister.
In turn, Frannie will be learning about the sounds that join together to make words. Nursery rhymes are a delightful way to learn how to identify the first sound in words "Wee Willy Winky" or listen for rhymes "Hickory, Dickory, Dock." Making up hand motions to go with the rhymes can add to the general fun and silliness all around.
Another activity for Will and Frannie involves scissors again. Use your computer and a basic word processing program to make a table of letters in different fonts. Here's an example, you'll want to make yours with more or fewer letters depending on your children, their level of patience, and your tolerance for messy paper clippings all over. Make sure that you include multiple forms of letters (check out the various lower case a's in the example screen shot).
Leave enough room between the letters for little hands to cut the letters apart. Then teach your children how to mix the letters up, then sort them. You'll need to do this activity with them the first time or two. After some practice with you, your children should be able to work together while you relax and catch up on Facebook. Ha! JK! You'll be making dinner while simultaneously doing a load of laundry and searching for something (I'm always searching for something).
First they can just sort the letters into A's, B's, C's, etc. Then you can have them separate lower case from upper case. My children like to find the "baby" for the "mommy" letter and match them up in pairs. When one set is mastered, you can move on to new letters, make the fonts trickier, or more letters to the mix.
I hope this is helpful, and I'd love to get any suggestions or questions you may have for a future post!