Oral Motor Activities
‘Oral-motor’ is the term used to describe the mouth and mouth/tongue movements. The oral system allow us to process information needed for tasting, sucking, swallowing, biting, chewing, lip closure and talking.
As a baby the mouth (oral) system is the most highly developed sensory motor system as it is important for nourishment and basic survival. Most of the exploration of a baby’s world is through the mouth. As we grow, we learn about the movements of the tongue and the lips to make sounds and produce speech. We also learn what tastes we prefer, how to control food in the mouth and develop safe eating and drinking.
Oral motor activities are an important way of increasing your child’s awareness and movement of their mouth and tongue as well as building the strength of their lips and facial muscles.
Try some of these activities:
Different Flavours: Try varying the flavours your child eats – salty, sour, sweet and spicy.
Different Movements: Give your child foods that require different mouth movements – to chew, suck, lick and bite.
Chewy Food: Include crunchy foods in your menu at home for meals and in your child’s lunch box. Try dry crunchy cereal, raw vegetables and fruit sticks (carrots, celery, apples/slices), pretzels, potato sticks, frozen fruit/vegetables (grapes, orange sections), hard sweets, ice blocks, icy poles, ice cubes, frozen fruit juice shapes/cubes, crackers, nuts.
Thick drink/thin straw (Suck):Give your child a thick drink like an Up & Go, fruit smoothie, milk shake, slurpy, slush puppy or a milo and have them drink it through a thin straw. Thick or partly frozen drinks can also be added to lunch boxes. Use a thin straw or for fun, a squiggly straw.
Water bottle: Provide your children with a water bottle with a sports top action. Drink from a water bottle with a straw. Sip ice water from a sports top bottle.
Blow toys: Try whistles, blowing musical instruments (harmonica, recorder, toy horn) and blow toys such as party blowers, blow on windmills and pinwheels. Move cotton balls by blowing through a straw (race cotton balls or play ‘soccer’ on table). Blow a ping pong ball around floor or across the table. Puff up your cheeks and pop them with your fingers.
More to follow next week…..
Janine Day (Occupational Therapist) and Anne McSweeney (Speech Language Pathologist)
References: ‘Learning Through the Senses Resource Manual – The Impact of Sensory Processing in the Classroom’, Northern Territory Government Department of Health & Community Services 2003