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Go Fish!

Age: 0 to 8+
Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: various

Fishing often plays an exciting role in family summer adventures and can be super exhilarating for kids. The combination of waiting patiently and then being rewarded with the big, exciting surprise of a tug on the end of the fishing line is great fun for kids.

The good news is, with just a stick and a piece of twine, kids can create their own pretend fishing experience at any time and in any outdoor space, even when a big fishing trip is not in the plans. Here’s how to create a simple fishing tool that is sure to spark imaginative play:

The Guide

Find a fishing stick: Search around your outdoor space together to find a good fishing stick (long enough to give your child the feel of the real fishing experience, but not so long that it can’t be easily maneuvered).

Add your fishing line: Help your child tie one end of a piece of twine or string to the end of the stick. If your child wants to add a little weight to the line, you can tie a small rock or pinecone to the end.

Find your fishing spot: Wonder where you could go fishing together? Is there a puddle or stream nearby? A patch of dirt or grassy area your child could pretend is a pond? You can also bring a blanket or towel outside and use it as a pretend body of water.

Spark imaginative play: Pretend that you spot a big fish in the water and invite your child to put their fishing pole in the pond to try to catch it. Prompt imaginative thinking by asking things like: Is the fish pulling on your line? Is it heavy? What kind of fish do you think you caught? Kids can pretend to cook their fish over a campsite fire. Or, you can model “catch and release” and invite your child to throw back their pretend fish.

Extend Play: Try out some of these fun ways to extend fishing play:

  • Frozen treasure fish: Fill an ice cube tray, muffin tin or other container with water and place one end of a piece of twine into the water before putting into the freezer. Once frozen, tie the other end to a stick and you have a fishing pole complete with cool fish.
  • Magnetic fish: Tie a magnet to the end of the twine and turn the metal lids from glass jars into fish.
  • Build a boat: Offer your child a cardboard box or two, some tape and some markers and invite them to make their own fishing boat.
  • Explore fishing tools: Add a few floating objects (pine cones, leaves, sliced fruit) to a container of water and invite kids to fish them out using a variety of tools (i.e. large cooking spoons, strainer, netting or a piece of fabric). Which fishing tool works best?

Why is this activity great for kids?

Creating a pretend fishing play scenario is a super way to engage kids’ imaginations. And, when kids turn an everyday object like a stick into a fishing pole, they are developing their divergent thinking, a key component to creativity.

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