Oral Motor Games – breathing in and out

//Oral Motor Games – breathing in and out

Oral Motor Games – breathing in and out

Breathing techniques have been taught and used in a variety of fields from meditation practice to labour during childbirth.  There is a growing body of research investigating the benefits of breathing (both exhalation and inhalation).

For example, there is recent research looking at the relationship between breathing and the brain.  The Sydney Morning Herald published a great article on how breathing affects our brain, read it here.  

Much of this research connects breathing in (especially through the nose) with improvements in cognition and memory, and we have started looking at ways we can incorporate this into our teaching at our tutoring centre, especially with particularly tricky times tables facts or graphemes/letter strings.

Occupational Therapists have known the benefits of breathing techniques for some time, and used these as part of their therapy – especially breathing out (blowing) – to help children regulate and organise themselves.  Unfortunately such widespread knowledge and acceptance has been slow to cross over into mainstream education (and even special education).  The times, they are a changing though.  Yay.

Educators can learn a great deal from OTs (and speech therapists for that matter), and it is wonderful that there is more free flowing and sharing of information.

Breathing out (especially blowing) activities are often incorporated into an OT session (especially at the end if a child has become quite excited, aroused or escalated) .

Sucking, chewing and blowing tasks are often adopted in both speech therapy and occupational therapy sessions to strengthen articulation muscles, and assist with eating, speech, singing, crying, breathing, oral motor development and posture (e.g. holding head erect).  Sucking through a straw can also help focus.

There is a really helpful and informative blog on this topic from an OT  here

I am often asked for more Blowing and Sucking games and resources.  So, Ive put together this post on the resources that we currently have available.  We’re always adding to our range, so if new resources arrive we’ll add them to this blog too.  Hope you find it helpful.


Water Flutes

Oh my gosh, I love these water flutes.  Its not often you find a resource that ticks lots of boxes – there’s a bit of science (the varying levels of water filled tubes dictates the pitch), music, bath fun and an activity that encourages steady blowing (to get a solid note).  They even come with waterproof song/music sheets.  Watch a clip of the water flutes in action here.

Blow Lotto is a fabulous sturdy game to encourage blowing and breath control.

Players take turns at blowing the ball from one hole to another, which requires control of the direction and speed of the ball. 9 holes show different pictures, which are also featured on the players’ lotto cards. The first player to cover all pictures is the winner.  This one is an investment, especially for the therapy room as you’ll get years out of it.  There are other ways to play the game as well.  Blow lotto is not cheap (as it’s hard to get from overseas) so I’ve put a demonstration on youtube so you can see what you’re getting before purchasing.

Blow Football

What a fun way to have kids getting loads of practice blowing through straws.  Set the pitch up with the goal posts and goalies, and blow through your straw aiming the ball past the opposing goalie and into the goal.  Blow football will be a much loved game to add to the therapy kitbag and a fun game for the whole family to play.

Balloon Ball Buddies

Balloon Ball Buddies are a fun way to help develop oral motor and respiration.  They also provide a constructive alternative for kids who seek oral input. The Balloon Ball Buddy is just like a normal balloon, however it is larger and requires a bit more strength initially to inflate. There are 6 different styles of The Balloon Ball Buddy (The Hippo, Tiger, Frog, Fish, Elephant, Lion).  The Balloon Ball Buddy is made from rubber, are more durable than a regular balloon.  They can be used and re-used many times. Initially they measure approx 18 x 10cm and can inflate to approx 22cm. If you would like to order a specific animal, just let us know when you order.

Balloon Racer

These are a very popular novelty toy that can be used to help stimulate and exercise the mouth, practice the technique of blowing and develop respiratory strength.

Turn blowing up balloons into loads of fun and/or a competitive game as the balloons are raced against each other.  It can be a solo activity or for 2 people. Inflate the balloon by blowing through the pipe at the rear of the car and watch them take off. Comes with 2 cars (each with a balloon already attached) and two spare balloons.

Balloon helicopter

This gives another option for balloon activities and fun ways to develop oral motor skills and blowing & breathing out.  Blow up the Balloon Helicopter and then listen to it whistle as it flies into the air and then floats back to earth using the helicopter blades.

Touchable Bubbles – Bubble Blizzard

Add another dimension to bubble blowing with the touchable bubbles.   Blow a blizzard of tiny bubbles that you can touch and catch without them popping.  This is a fun, novel and sensational sensory experience encouraging play, gentle movement, coordination, visual and oral stimulation. The bubbles last for a surprisingly long time too.  When the bubbles turn white, you can even pick them up.

Racetrack Whistle

Need a bit more motivation to encourage blowing?  The Race Track Whistle is another handy tool to have in your kitbag to encourage extended breathing/blowing out and breath control.  The cars actually move accordingly to your breathing rhythms.  The Race Track Whistle encourages deep breaths to get the cars going and then, more steady and controlled breathing to keep them going round the track smoothly and consistently.

The Race Track Whistle has the added benefit of also encouraging eye tracking too.

Galaxy Balloon Ball

After an activity that requires LOTS of blowing and provides a bit of fun at the end?  The Galaxy Balloon Ball is loads of  fun, and for an added bonus they help children with oral motor skills. Its super easy,  you inflate it like balloon and then play with it like a ball (it inflates to 90cm – massive) and it is REUSABLE!


Sip n Sound

I cant believe how cool these are!  When you suck in through the straw it makes the noise of that animal.  It takes a little battery, but it is safely inside a case that requires a screwdriver to open.  We have farm animals and vehicles available.

Wet my Whistle

The wet my whistle straw is a washable reusable straw that “whistles” when you blow out (whether it is in a liquid or not) and can also be used as straw for sucking if you cover the whistle hole (though it won’t make the noise).  We love these straws as they are so sturdy and great for thicker liquid and making the sucking hard work.  The internal measurement (diameter) of the straw is 5mm.

Mask Straws

Add a bit of novelty to sucking and blowing activities (and throw in a bit of discussion about facial expressions while you’re at it) with the mask straws.  The set comes with 48 different facial expression options and 24 straws.

Ark’s Lip Block

The Ark Lip straw topper is a valuable tool to add to a straw to help children learn how to suck from a straw effectively.  The Lip Block can help children develop oral motor skills such as lip closure, tongue retraction and cheek tension.

Watch the basic lip block model in action here.

Arks Ultra Bear Bottle Kit

The Ultra Bear Bottle kit is designed to help children learn to drink from a straw and to assist those with oral motor difficulties.  The unique design has a valve to prevent the liquid from going back down the straw.

Check it out in action here.

By |2018-02-25T03:44:54+00:00September 19th, 2017|Special needs|0 Comments

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