Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yummy Apple Trees!

Fall is coming and I thought I would share one of my favorite oral motor activities.  I know that the link between oral motor movements for speech vs. non-speech tasks is controversial.  However, when I was in grad school, oral motor exercises were thought to benefit speech development.  In my practice, I have seen children show improvements in articulation, expressive language, and feeding abilities after participating in an oral motor program.  With that said, many years ago, I started using this activity in preschool classrooms as a Christmas activity.  I figured I'd give it a fall twist!

If you're not a strong proponent of oral motor tasks, you can use this activity to target sequencing, following directions, color concepts, etc.  For this activity, you will need:  large bowl, stirring spoon, paper plates, marker, popsicle sticks or plastic knives, frosting, green food coloring, and circle shaped cereal (e.g., Froot Loops).

To start, you draw an apple tree on a paper plate (or you could draw a Christmas tree).


Next, you need to make some green frosting!  When I did this as a class activity, I mixed the frosting ahead of time. Since I was doing this activity with just my son, I had him mix the frosting (1 tub vanilla frosting + several drops of green food coloring = enough for about 10 trees).

Now you can "paint" your tree.  We used plastic knives.  Popsicle sticks work great too!

Once painted, you can add your apples (or ornaments if you are doing a Christmas tree).  Since we are doing an apple tree, we picked out just the red Froot Loops. (WH questions! What grows on an apple tree? What color are apples? Where do the apples grow?)

Voila!  We have a very cute apple tree:

Now comes the fun part...You get to eat your apples!  I have my students hold the plate out in front of them and use their tongues to lick the apples off the tree.

Matthew loved this activity (even though he's not a huge fan of frosting) and he literally licked his plate clean!

On a Side Note...

We ended up with a ton of extra frosting, so we decided to make apple tree cupcakes as well.  We used M&Ms for the apples on our cupcakes.  While the cupcakes were in the oven, we did a color sort activity with the M&Ms:

Once cool, we frosted our cupcakes and put on some "apples."

 In the end, they looked (and tasted) great!

Since there are different colors of apples, we made a variety of apple tree cupcakes (though they probably look more like apple bushes!):

Do you use oral motor activities within your therapy sessions?  
Do you feel they are beneficial to students?

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