Two children playing the fishing game


Craft And Activity In One — Homemade Fishing Game For Preschoolers

Aug 15, 2018

We have a backyard pond here at my home daycare, and it's one of my daycare kids' favourite places to hang out when we’re outside. It’s provided us with hours of learning and entertainment as we watch the fish, frogs and snails, and it’s a relaxing place to gather and to get in touch with nature.

Pile of crafted fish ready to be fished

One of the hooligans’ favourite things to do at the pond is to pretend that they’re fishing for our goldfish. I keep a stash of sticks and plastic poles near the pond for this very reason. They’ve spent hours over the years sitting or standing at the pond with their little fishing poles, stirring the water, scooping the algae and, of course, pretending to fish.

Two little girls pretending to fish at the pond

They often tell me they wish they could really catch the fish, or they’ll chat about the fishing experiences they’ve had while camping or vacationing with their families.

Knowing how much they love to fish, I recently made a homemade fishing game for the toddlers and preschoolers that would allow them to actually "make a catch" and to help develop their hand-eye coordination.

Our fishing game was fun and easy to make, using common household materials, and it started off with a fun art activity. 

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What You'll Need

  • styrofoam produce trays
  • acrylic craft paints
  • paintbrushes
  • scissors
  • googly eyes
  • glue
  • paper clips
  • sticks (craft sticks, wooden dowels or real sticks)
  • yarn
  • thin rubber bands

Making our fish:

To begin, I gave the kids a variety of paint colours and some white styrofoam trays. We love crafting with styrofoam trays, so I always have a supply of them in the craft room. I run ours through the dishwasher to sterilize them before using them for crafts or activities.

Painting on a styrofoam produce tray

The kids painted the styrofoam, brushing and blending their colours together. 

While we waited for the paint to dry, I explained that we'd be turning our paintings into a fishing activity, and asked the kids what kind of animals they thought we should include in our game. They came up with fish, starfish and seahorses, so I drew some simple free-hand sketches on a piece of paper to use as templates. Once the paint was dry, I traced the templates onto the back of the styrofoam trays and cut out the shapes.

Poking holes through the fish shapes

Next, the kids glued googly eyes on the shapes and I used a pencil to poke a hole into each shape.

Then I untwisted some paper clips, poked them through the holes and loosely twisted them back together, leaving the ends sticking out in a way that the kids would be able to hook them with their fishing poles.

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Making our fishing poles:

To make our fishing poles, I attached some long pieces of yarn to our craft sticks. The craft sticks we used had holes pre-drilled into them, which made it easy to tie the yarn to them. If you're using regular sticks or wooden dowels, just knot your yarn tightly around the end of your stick.

Yarn tied to sticks to make fishing poles

Next, I tied the other end of each piece of yarn to a thin rubber band. This would give us something to hook our fish with.

Two children using their homemade fishing poles to catch their homemade fish

To play with our fishing game, we spread our fish out on the floor and the kids stood above them trying to hook them with their poles. Alternatively, you can put your fish in a large bowl and have the kids try to fish them out.

Holding their catch

This activity helps kids to develop patience and determination, and it really challenges their co-ordination. And it's so fun and rewarding when they make a catch!

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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