Build Intrinsic Hand Strength with Astronaut Play Dough Mat | The OT Toolbox

Build Intrinsic Hand Strength with Astronaut Play Dough Mat

We've had an intrinsic hand strengthening play dough mat on the website for a long time. It's been one of our biggest free downloads ever since it was uploaded! There is a reason why: Kids need to strengthen fine motor skills, badly! It seems like there are more and more students who struggle with the necessary fine motor skills needed for a functional pencil grasp and other skills. They need hand strength!




Use this astronaut play dough mat to work on intrinsic hand strength with play dough to build hand strength kids need for fine motor activities, all with a fun play dough activity!



Intrinsic Hand Strength with Play Dough


Using play dough, show the child how to roll a ball of play dough within one hand, using only the fingertips and thumbs. This promotes development in a variety of areas: 


  • It strengthens the arches of the hands, helps awareness and coordination in separation of the two sides of the hand
  • Promotes finger isolation for improved control and dexterity
  • Encourages dexterity and coordination of the thumb and index finger which are important in pencil grasp, 
  • Strengthens the intrinsic muscles for improved endurance in fine motor tasks such as maintaining hold on a pencil, manipulating clothing fasteners, managing and using scissors, coloring, and many other tasks. 
Because the simple play dough mat offered on this site has been such a need and so successful, We wanted to share a few other play dough mats that can also be used to encourage and develop these fine motor skills. 

Over the next few weeks, you will find even more themed play dough mats coming your way. Today we've got an Astronaut themed play mat. This mat is nice for incorporating into a space theme or for any child that just loves all things space!

Astronaut Play Dough Mat


For this play dough mat, you can ask children to pull off a small piece of play dough and roll it in their hand using only the fingers and thumb of one hand. To encourage intrinsic hand strength, dexterity, coordination, and endurance of the intrinsics, it's important to use just that one hand. It's part of the challenge! 

Other uses for the play mat can include rolling the playdough with the palms of two hands. That's a great activity too and fits perfectly with many children's fine motor needs.

Want to print off this astronaut play dough mat? Enter your email in the form below. You'll receive an email with a link to access the file.

Want to strengthen the muscles in the hand to improve pencil grasp, scissor use, coloring, or fine motor coordination and endurance? 

Grab this FREE printable Astronaut themed play dough mat to help kids strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hands!

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    Play Dough Mat for Intrinsic Hand Strength

    To use this play dough mat over and over again, add a layer of reusability by laminating the paper or slipping it into a sheet protector sleeve. There are different sizes of circles on the mat all with an astronaut theme. Each sized circle , requires the child to roll small or large play dough balls.  This encourages more refined intrinsic muscle use and improved dexterity of the hands.

    You can use the mat in several ways:

    • Allow the child to fill the circles with play dough with random colors of play dough
    • Assign different sized circles to different colors of play dough.  This provides a visual scanning component to the activity
    • Write numbers or letters in the circles, providing a visual scanning and letter order cognitive component

    More themed Play Dough Mats

    Once you access the astronaut play dough mat, you'll also receive access to an additional 5 themed play dough mats that will be coming to the site in the next few weeks. These themes include planets, toys, ice cream, city and birds.

    Each play dough mat will be available in our subscriber library once they are up on the site. Stay tuned!


    Need more hand strength ideas? 

    It's my hope that these resources are a huge help for you! Here are a few more topics related to strength in the hands that you may need in your therapy toolbox: 
    Graded Precision in Grasp 
    Occupation-Centered Neat Pincer Grasp Activities 
    Strengthen Tripod Grasp with Every Day Items 
    DIY Clothespin Busy Bags to Strengthen Pinch 
    Clay Strengthening Exercises 
    Handwriting Warm-Up Exercises 
    The Ultimate Guide to Fine Motor Strength


    Kids will love this astronaut play dough mat for building hand strength of the intrinsic muscles using play dough and this astronaut theme play dough mat, perfect for play dough activities and astronaut activities!