Oral Motor Activities
By including just a few of these activities in your child’s day you will help them to be better regulated and feel calmer. Oral motor activities provide organising sensation for the brain which can help facilitate better attention span. Strengthening the muscles in and around the mouth can also help children improve feeding skills. Here are a few Christmassy oral motor activity ideas for you to try. Have fun!
Feed the penguin – make a penguin using a tissue box. You can write letters on the fish if you want to to encourage children to spell a word or just race to pick up the fish by using a straw to suck them up and feed them to the penguin. If children have difficulty using the straw and controlling their breaths, once they have tried using a straw, you can make little balls out of tissue paper and get them to feed the penguin using tweezers which is a great fine motor activity.
Ice cube race – pour some water into a tray/container and add ice cubes. Either race each other, blowing the ice (using a straw) from one end to the other or try to score goals. Alternatively your child may prefer to play alone and try to get the ice cube from one end to the other, perhaps using a stopwatch to improve their time.
Snowball rescue – using a straw and cotton wool pretend you need to rescue all the snowballs from one container and take them over to santa/the penguins etc in the other container.
Christmas volcano – Half fill a large bowl with water. Add a few squirts of washing up liquid. A few drops of Christmas coloured food colouring (red/green). Give your child a straw, if possible a curly straw and ask them to blow into the water. Your child should keep blowing until the bubbles spill over the rim of the bowl. Don’t do this if you think your child may try to drink the liquid.
Party blower target – Set up small Christmas figures on lego blocks (can make e.g. santas and elves out of cardboard). Ask your child to lie on their stomach in front of the figures. Using a large party blower, your child can pretend to be a lizard with a long tongue and knock down the figures.
Food and drink tips – crunchy food (e.g. crackers, bread sticks, carrot, apple) and chewy food (e.g. raisins, bagels, cocktail sausages) give good sensory feedback to the mouth. Long curly straws give the muscles around the mouth extra work when drinking. It is also good to try different types of drinks such a yogurt drinks, smoothies and milk-shakes – thicker drinks need much more effort.