Oral motor skills involve movements of the cheeks, tongue, lips and jaw and are crucial for the development of a variety of early learning skills. These types of movements are integral to developing proper speech as well as eating and drinking skills. My students always loved oral motor activities, such as blowing bubbles through a bubble wand, blowing bubbles in cups of water using a straw and copying different facial expressions using a mirror. They viewed our oral motor group as a unique game time and never even realized they were actually learning.
This experiment is a great way to hone oral motor skills and develop simple science concepts, such as recording observations and distinguishing between heavy and light objects.
The object of the experiment is to see which items your are able to pick up by sucking air through a straw. To complete the experiment, you will first have to collect a variety of items that are light enough to be picked up by the straw and a variety of heavier items that will not be able to be lifted. The lighter the object, the easier it will be to pick up, especially for little lungs. Some items that are really easy to pick up using the straw are
- small pieces of cardboard
- short pieces of ribbon
- small pieces of paper
- cupcake liners
- table confetti
- cotton balls
- Foam shapes
- pom poms
Some items that are a little heavier, but still able to be lifted with a little more lung power are
- Small buttons
- small foam counting blocks
After collecting your items, you will want to set out two containers for sorting the items. Before getting started ask your kids to make a hypothesis (guess) about which items they will or will not be able to pick up using the straw. Then, have the kid take turns testing various items to see if they are able to lift the item off of the table, by sucking air through the straw.
After testing each item, drop it into the appropriate container. As you work, be sure to talk about why some items can be lifted, while others can’t (the straw can only pick up very light items). Ideally, your kids will come to this conclusion on their own after testing the items.
When the experiment is complete, be sure to record the data. If your kids are too young to write, they can record their data by drawing a picture of the results or taking a photograph.