Oral motor exercises are occasionally necessary to improve weak articulators or muscles in the mouth and face for speech production. These muscles sometimes need strengthening, or need to have better coordination or range of motion.
Improving these muscles can help a child make speech sounds better as well as help with the eating/feeding/swallowing problems some children have difficulty with. The activities below are for children ages 3 and up, to help improve their oral motor skills.
Exercizes to Improve Oral Motor Skills
1. Blowing bubbles. This works the muscles that make our lips round like for the /w/ sound. It also improves breath control.
2. Licking peanut butter or marshmallow crème with the tongue only (no fingers) after a glob of it has been placed on the roof of the mouth or behind the top front teeth. This works on tongue elevation/lifting, and if you put it over in one cheek it works to help lateralize the tongue (move it sideways).
3. Put cheerios or apple jacks on the table and have the child “spear” one with his tongue. No hands or lips can be used. The child has to learn to aim and protrude the tongue past the lips.
4. Roll little round lollipops around the mouth, back and forth from in one cheek to inside the other using only the tongue. The sucker should be visible pushing against the cheek if they do it successfully. Also works on lateralization and coordination of tongue movements.
5. Rub syrup, frosting, or peanut butter on outside of lips (red/pink part) so child must lick lips with tongue to clean them off. No hands for this either.
6. Lick ice cream as it drips down the side of the cone on a hot day. Can’t use lips- tongue only.
7. Pretend to make faces at one another while you look in the mirror. Make the silliest ones you want.
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