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I am looking for oral motor activities that can be done in small groups with students ages 3-5. Does anyone have any ideas?  I work in an integrated preschool and developing oral motor skills is one of our goals. Thank you for your help!

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Yes, doing the activities in small groups is a great way to encourage kids to have a little fun with it and not see it as a chore.

Here is a great video geared towards young kids that might be really fun...

Here is a site that has quite a few suggestions as well as a nice library of videos.

Blowing Bubbles
This may seem a bit immature, but it is a great exercise for breath control as well as pursing the lips.

In our own experience the clients that we've worked with have all enjoyed this activity. Remember, you're never too old to have some fun!

Blow a Harmonica
Here is another great oral motor exercise for breath control and lip pursing, but with this one you get to make some noise!

If breath control is weak then your goal might be to get "louder" sounds from the harmonica.

If your lip strength is weak you might focus on trying to play just one note at a time.

Harmonica's are inexpensive (you can even use a plastic one), and all in all it's another fun activity.

Blow a Kazoo
This is also an inexpensive "instrument." The kazoo will not only help your breath control, but it will also help with vocal control as well.


Because you have to hum to get any sound out of a kazoo.

At first you can try to make a simple humming sound. As you progress you can try to vary the pitch of your hum and even try to play a simple tune (like, "Mary had a Little Lamb").

Using a Straw
Practicing with a straw will obviously work on sucking skills, however it also involves pursing those lips again.

"Thin" liquids like water or apple juice are good starters.

As you progress you might want to try a "thicker" liquid like a milk shake.

Do not use this exercise if you or your loved one has feeding or swallowing difficulties.

Tongue Press

Have you ever heard of isometric exercises?

Isometrics are a type of strength training whereby you push your muscles against an immovable force. They are a very effective technique for increasing muscle strength.

For this oral motor exercise you will need a tongue depressor or a spoon. You will also need another person to provide the "immovable force."

First, stick your tongue straight out in front of you. Have the object pressed against your tongue tip. Push against the object as hard as you can for a count of 5, then relax.

Try to do this six to eight times in a row.

Next, again stick out your tongue in front of you. This time have the object placed on the right side of your tongue. Press against the object as hard as you can (like you're trying to push the object to the corner of your mouth). Hold for a count of 5.

Try to do this six to eight times in a row.

Do this oral motor exercise one more time pushing against the immovable object with the left side of your tongue.

Click here to Start an Effective Oral Motor Program at Home!

Jaw Isometrics

You can do this jaw exercise yourself or have someone help you. Start with your mouth open. Have someone hold your chin firmly. Try to close your mouth using nothing but your jaw muscles - do not move your head! Hold for a count of 5.

You will definitely feel fatigue in your jaw muscles after doing this a few times. Start out only doing 3-5 of these.

Now, for the next jaw exercise you start in the opposite direction. Start with your mouth closed. This time have someone place their hand under your chin. Without moving your head try to open your mouth. Hold for a count of 5.

Try 3-5 and increase the amount as you gain strength.

NOTE: Even if you can open your mouth against your partner's hand, remember that this exercise will build strength by steadily resisting force.

Doing the exercises properly is important. Take your time and focus on each motion as well as the muscles you are using.

Chin Slide

Move your chin from side-to-side without moving your head. Once you're able to do this jaw exercise pretty well you can adjust the speed from slow to fast to make it more challenging.

This oral motor exercise can also be done with resistance (which will make it another isometric exercise).

The following oral motor exercises provide tactile stimulation. Tactile Stimulation refers to stimulating or "waking up" a muscle area by sense of touch.

Using a toothbrush, brush the upper and lower lips. You can purchase toothbrushes with different levels of stiffness. Try to use different levels ranging from very soft to stiff (never use anything that may cause pain).

You can also use the brushing technique on the muscles surrounding the mouth (including the jaw).

Putting ice on the lips will certainly help "wake up" those muscles. You can use a plain ice cube for this exercise, but ice pops are easier to use and add some flavor as well.

Run the ice from the middle of the lips outward to the corner. Do this on both sides and then ask your loved one to smile. Repeat the icing movements and the smiling attempts several times.

Licking Ice Cream
Who wouldn't enjoy this activity? Put some ice cream in a cone and let it melt a little. Then practice using just your tongue (no lips) to lick the dripping ice cream.

This is a great tongue exercise and a delicious treat all at the same time. How is that for fun therapy?

Once again, this is not intended for use by anyone with feeding or swallowing difficulties.

Peanut Butter on the Lips
Rub some peanut butter on your lips and do your best to lick it all off. Make sure you apply the peanut butter from one corner of the mouth to the other.

This will force the tongue to reach from side-to-side to lick that tasty spread. This should go without saying by now, but never use this with anyone experiencing feeding or swallowing difficulties.

Well Sarah, I hope that gives you some ideas. Good luck with it and circle back and let us know what you find to work well.
You might try blowing cotton balls (either with or without a straw), horns, whistles, or windmills.
We used to make up songs with silly sounds, like "oo, ee, ah, oh... oo, ee, ah, oh..." to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"  I've also made up songs to go along with chewing and biting exercises on a Chewy Tube (or aquarium tubing or other appropriate item).  "There was a farmer had a dog who liked to chew his booooone... chew, chew, chew, chew, chew... chew, chew, chew, chew, chew... chew, chew, chew, chew, chew... and Bingo was his name-OH!"  or "If you're happy and you know it chew your tube...." or "When I wake up in the morning and it's quarter to one, I chew my tube... ch, ch, ch, ch, ch, ch, ch, ch..."  Good luck!

In the spring, try a bunny blow game like the one I made pictured here -  Also, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.    And, of course, lots of word play and naimal/environmental sound play.


Also, maybe you could check out Nobody (not even my mother) ever Told Me That.  An excellent book on feeding, speech, etc.


Hi Sarah,

I am just new to this network.  I have a program that includes oral motor activities.  I introduce it in the special needs preschool  and also gen ed preschools and the teacher and parapro carry it on all week.  We have done this program for about 10 years.  It includes starting with a gross motor task, fine motor/  goes to oral motor/ sound of the week, and sound cards, taste and then the day begins.  It is a great option for social exchange as well, and it gives the different therapists the " sensory wake up to the nervous system"  we all want       It takes about 20 minutes start to finish.  It has been well received.  let me know what you may need.  We put the whistles together with the preschool themes and plot it over the year.  The SLP, and PT are also included as they can.


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