A child who has difficulty with the coordination of their oral muscles like the tongue, lips, and jaw will have trouble producing speech and even the ability to eat and drink. There are lots of specialized exercises to help with these problems, but exercising doesn’t sound like fun, especially for a child. So let’s call them activities, make them fun, and choose some to do at home. Here are some suggestions on how to make at-home oral motor activities fun.
Everybody Loves Making Funny Faces
Children love to play and imitate their parents or older siblings making funny faces. Find a large mirror so everyone can see.
- Stick out your tongue as far as you can
- Move your tongue to the left and then to the right
- Make silly fish lips
- Now pucker your lips like you’re giving someone a great big kiss
- Touch your chin with your tongue without moving your head
- Lick your lips
These activities improve strength, coordination, and range of motion of the lips, jaw, and tongue. You do them first, then have your little one mimic you as best they can.
Make Goofy Sounds
Have your child and maybe siblings press their lips together tightly, then open them with a big SMACK. Do this a few times and see who can make the loudest smack sound.
Blowing bubbles is a fun activity for young and old. Have your child yell POP each time they pop a bubble. Encourage them to make different sounds, deep and high if possible.
Let your child have a drink with a straw and encourage them to blow into it to make bubbles and crazy sounds in their drink. This is fun for the whole family. (within reason, of course)
Have Fun With Food
Certain foods like peanut butter and marshmallow creme are great to encourage kids to play. Place a little bit on the side of their mouth or on their lips. Then have them touch with their tongue and decipher what the food is. Anything slimy or provides resistance is a good choice.
It will help strengthen their tongue and their range of motion.
It’s crucial to participate with your child as they do these fun activities. Having their siblings join in too makes it more of a game or competition.
Contact TLC Pediatric Therapies at (407) 905-9300 for a speech specialist and more ideas for at-home oral motor activities and how to make them fun.