Something fishy…

We purchased some ‘Twirl Tubes’ for our new water wall the other day. If you’ve never seen them, they are  long, fluorescent bendy pipes – like a giant version of the bendy bit in a straw. Squidge decided that they were fishing rods (besides them being long, I have no idea why) and off she went about the house ‘fishing’.

Being a teacher (aka hoarder of all things crafty and/or reusable) and quite creative I decided I’d make her an actual fishing rod with fish to catch. I had in mind a plastic, wind up version from when I was little. The fish would bob up and down, opening and closing their mouths and you’d have to catch them with your magnetic rod. Obviously I couldn’t quite go that far, but the magnets and rods could be done.

For this activity you will need:

  • Drumsticks (or lengths of dowel)
  • Coloured foam and felt (coloured card would also work)
  • Paperclips
  • Magnets
  • Permanent marker
  • Fishing wire (or string)
  • Glue gun
  • Tray
  • Material for decorating/background


Squidge watched me prepare this activity and was excited the minute she saw that I was cutting out fish. She helped me put the paperclips on each one. She is clearly getting used to me blogging our activities as before she dived in she asked me if I wanted to take a photo!

Once the photo was done, she went straight for the biggest fish in the ‘tank’. She had reasonable control over the rod and line but after about a minute, maybe two, she got annoyed and tossed the rod to one side. This is a fairly regular occurrence at the minute, she gives up really quickly and decides she can’t do it – when we both know full well with a bit of effort she could. Putting on her socks is the one that springs to mind.

At this point I calmly told her it was a difficult game and she had two choices, she could cry or she could try. If she cried, she definitely wouldn’t be able to do it. If she tried, she’d at least have a chance. I then left her to think about it – removing my attention from her paddy. I’d given her clear choices, the rest was up to her. I use this tactic a lot to manage behaviour and the majority of times it works a treat. Two options, the two consequences, leave to simmer and nine times out of ten they come to you with the right choice.

Squidge soon picked up her rod and decided to give it another go. Within a minute she’d caught the elusive fish, her satisfaction ever greater after the initial struggle. Fish after fish was caught, delight on her face every single time. Her level of concentration was so high. There was a little bit of cheating here and there, but I let it go, she was going to need some practice before playing against an all time magnetic fishing champion – Me of course.

With our game faces on, we were off! In this family (my husband’s side in particular – all of them!!) you play to win. This is a good thing to learn early. Hubby took me out of the legendary ‘Hat Game’ at my first major family Christmas Party, being new to it I was an easy target. I’ve never forgiven him. With this competitive spirit in mind I let Squidge believe that I was trying my best. Even if it wasn’t strictly true, she is only 3 and I do have a heart.

She was so excited, you can see it in her face. Every time she caught a fish she was counting up how many she had. Needless to say she beat me several times. I made sure I won a couple – winning every time is no fun either, and learning to be a gracious loser is also an important skill. This particular session lasted a good 40 minutes if not longer. We played again in the afternoon and as soon as Daddy got home she challenged him to a game. She set it all out her self and told him what he had to do. It was lovely to watch.


This simple game created plenty of opportunities to practice early maths skills. Counting up how many each person had and comparing more than and less than. When Squidge wasn’t sure who had more (usually 4 / 3) we laid out the fish in two columns side by side so she could see, visually which column had more in.

Since that initial game the other day we have played several times at Squidge’s request. You may have noticed I have drawn different shapes and patterns on the fish. I’ve casually dropped in hints at this so far ‘Oh look that one has stars on it’, ‘I think I might catch the one with zig zags next’. The idea being that at some stage I could ask her to catch a particular fish. Eventually we could add some kind of points system – double points for the fish with stars – whatever we fancy!

An idea when using this with slightly older children would be to have 10 fish. This way you could work on number bonds to 10. You have 4 fish, so how many are left in the tank? We’ve caught all the fish, you have 7 so how many do you think are on my plate? You could also number the fish and use this in different ways. Catch them in order (forwards or backwards), catch all the even ones, give them a calculation and they have to catch the fish with the answer. Anything goes, so long as it’s fun!


If you have any other suggestions for ways to build on this game feel free to share in the comments.

Lots of love, Cat and Squidge Xx



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Mudpie Fridays
Dear Bear and Beany

  • Ellen (July 13, 2016)

    Wow I am impressed you made this yourself I don’t think I’d know where to start! Looks like a fantastic game and lots of ways to make it educational. I can sympathise with the competitive family- and my husband’s family think it’s hilarious to play ‘the aeroplane game’ with newcomers, basically culminating in the new person getting drinks thrown on them to ‘stop the fire’ – nightmare!! #BloggerClubUK

    • Cat (July 13, 2016)

      Oh dear – sounds like you had it much worse than me! You did make me giggle. The fish were really simple to make. Then the rods were just gluing bits together. I take for granted that I can make little bits and pieces – people at school always wowed at my displays, but I just like doing crafty things. Xx

  • Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) (July 13, 2016)

    Aw, this looks like great fun – we’ve got a mini magnet fishing set, but I love the idea of scaling it up and getting the whole family involved! #bloggerclubuk

    • Cat (July 13, 2016)

      Thank you. We need more rods and fish! 🙂 xx

  • Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) (July 13, 2016)

    I love the look of your fish pond and such a brilliant idea for a game – not to mention how it helps with numeracy skills. Very tempted to have a go at creating one of these for my girls – they would love it 🙂

    • Cat (July 13, 2016)

      Definitely do! It’s really simple and I think the fact that it’s home made only adds to their joy! 🙂 Let me know how you get on xxx

  • Sharon Rivers (July 14, 2016)

    Looks like she had great fun! I love ‘you can cry or you can try’, might have to use it on my own children 😉 I’m glad she made the right choice and had lots of fun #sharingthebloglove

    • Cat (July 14, 2016)

      I like the rhyme in it, hopefully she’ll remember it herself at some point! Xx

  • Helena (July 14, 2016)

    Sounds like you have great fun in your house. #BloggerClubUK

    • Cat (July 14, 2016)

      We always try to! 🙂 xxx

  • Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons (July 15, 2016)

    This looks like a really fun activity! I love that you made this yourself. I share your competitive nature – our family are just the same! And my sister doesn’t just play to win – she’s an outright cheater! I’m keeping this in mind for a few year’s time. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Cat (July 15, 2016)

      Ha ha! That’s worse than just being competitive.
      I think I must be missing all the prepping for work – always making little bits and pieces.
      Loving the linky! I’ll be back again 🙂 xx

  • Laura - dear bear and beany (July 15, 2016)

    This looks great fun, my girls would love it. You can see how much she loves it from her face. I love that she asked you if you needed to take a photo first, ha ha! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Laura X

    • Cat (July 15, 2016)

      My little blogglet?! The next generation, it’s already started! 😀 xx

  • Louise | Squished Blueberries (July 19, 2016)

    Great game, what a resourceful mama you are! I love that you’ve included lots of ways to extent the activity for older children at the end of your post, really helpful!

    • Cat (July 19, 2016)

      Thanks Louise! There’s often lots of ways to use things that are ‘meant’ for older or younger children. I like things that have longevity 🙂 Xx


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