It takes an interaction of 72 muscles to speak. That’s a lot!
At Linden Grove we get creative with ways to work on those muscles.
Oral motor work helps to develop the muscles not just for proper speech, but also for chewing and drinking safely and effectively.
Occupational Therapist Abby McKenzie recently engaged the K-2 students in an activity to strengthen their oral motor muscles while simultaneously working on their visual skills, all in a motivating balloon activity. A glove was placed over the top of a paper cup and secured with a rubber band and then a straw was inserted into the side of the cup. The students strengthened their oral motor musculature by blowing air into the straw and improved their visual skills by teaming their eyes together to look at the balloon (convergence). They had fun inflating their “hand balloons” giving “high fives” to their classmates.
Abby also worked to incorporate the use of the students fine and visual motor skills by having them peel and stick stickers onto their cup, draw different faces (emotions) on their gloves, and write their name on their cups. The students were proud of their creations and couldn’t wait to take them home.
Activities such as blowing up balloons or gloves, drinking through a straw, chewing gum or candy, and taking deep breaths in and out slowly through both the nose and mouth, can have a calming effect. This calming effect can result in improved self-regulation, focus, and attention, which are all vital pieces for learning and engagement within the classroom.