Oral Motor Skills

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What is oral motor development?

Oral motor development refers to the use and function of the jaw, tongue, lips and the hard and soft palates. The movement and coordination of these structures is very important in speech production, safe swallowing, and consuming various food textures.

How your child works on oral motor skills in Speech Therapy?

At Speech 4 Kids we complete a comprehensive assessment of your child’s oral motor skills and determine how these skills are directly impacting speech sound production and feeding skills.  We incorporate a variety of oral motor methodologies into our therapy program and determine the best approach based on your child’s needs.  It is important to implement oral motor exercises in a functional way that will best support speech sound production and overall feeding skills.

Activities to Encourage Oral Motor Development

Jaw movement:

  • singing “Old McDonald” with exaggerated movement for vowels during the chorus, “e, i, e, i, o”
  • chewing movement while pretending to eat
  • practicing biting with chew tubes or biting on straws that are frozen with yogurt/juice in one end
  • producing incidentals (“uh oh”, “oh no”, “oh man”, “oh boy”) and/or repeated syllables in play (“hop hop hop”, “go go go”, “pop pop pop”, etc.}

Tongue movement –Protrusion (sticking tongue out) and Lateralization (moving tongue side to side):

  • licking a lollipop, Popsicle or high interest food on a spoon or a stick
  • making silly faces in the mirror or in a window reflection
  • pretending to be a snake or a dog (panting)
  • licking lips (pretend play in the play kitchen/play food)
  • making “raspberries”
  • imitating each other sticking tongue out during diaper change

Lip rounding/pursing:

  • using a straw to blow paint on paper or a ball across a table
  • blowing bubbles, whistles/horns, pinwheel, balloons, feathers
  • blowing on a window/mirror to make fog, then letting child draw with his finger in the fog
  • pretending to be a monkey and making the monkey sound
  • pretending to cool something off by blowing on it
  • making the choo-choo sound when playing with trains
  • blowing dandelions when playing outside
  • blowing a handful of soap bubbles during bath time

  Lip closure/seal:

  • saying “mmm” when eating or when pretending to eat with play food
  • vibrating lips when making vehicle noises (brrrmm) when driving cars/trucks/tractors
  • pretending to blow kisses to someone
  • making the elephant sound when pretending to be an elephant
  • putting on chapstick and puckering to taste the flavored chapstick
  • using a straw for drinking fun drinks of various consistencies and temperatures




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