5 ways to play with a Magnetic Fishing Game {teaching math, language, size, colour and imagination}

Indoor fishing games are a classic toy for imaginative play. I made one for R when he was about two years old and two years later it still comes out when we are playing with our frog pond small world. There are so many ways to play with this game and I designed ours so that it could be used for teaching colour and number recognition. This game was very inexpensive to make and it has really grown with R. As he has grown, we’ve been able to adapt and change the way we play with our fishing game to suit his various stages of learning. Here are 5 ways to play with an indoor fishing game and the benefits/outcomes of that play. Later in the week I’ll share a tutorial for how I made our magnetic fishing game. It’s really simple to make and can be adapted to suit your level of craftiness and can be easily made with whatever materials you happen to have on hand.


Sometimes R ignores the rod and simply moves the fish around our make-believe pond. He creates stories for the fish and makes splashing sounds as he moves the fish around. This provides opportunities for language development and story telling skills. Developing imagination can improve problem solving skills and enhance creative thinking.

R loves to “catch” the fish. This game develops fine motor skills, concentration, focus and patience.

I never realised when I first made this game just how man opportunities it wold provide for numeracy development. I sewed various beads and buttons onto each fish. I made ten fish in all and each fish has decorations that count from numbers 1 to 10. So one of the fish has one bead, another fish has two beads, another fish has three beads and so on.

When R was 2, we would simply sit and admire the different fish, touching the beads, talking about their shapes and textures and we would count the number of beads on each fish.

As R’s number recognition and one to one correspondence improved, I would ask him to catch the fish with two beads or three beads etc.

He then moved on to number sequencing, where he would line up the fish in order from 1 to ten and then again in reverse order.

We are now working on odds and evens so he will catch fish with only an even number of beads or only those with an odd number of beads.

I purposely made each fish a different colour – they may not look all nice and co-ordinated, but I just used whatever scraps of felt I happened to have on hand and there was a great benefit to making them all different. It has provided lots of conversations about colour. We play games where we are trying to catch only a certain colour of fish, or I will say to R “Can you catch the colour that starts with P?”

All the fish in our game are a different size (and slightly different shape). When I first made this game, R was only 2, so we played games where I would ask him to catch only the big fish or only the small fish. As he has grown, our games now involve size sorting games, where we line all the fish up in size order. This type of sequencing is a great early math skill.

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  1. My kids are WAY into everything fish. I’ve made many many many plush fish for them to play with but haven’t made a magnetic game for them yet (its been on the to do list) now that I see yours I’m going to get on it right away. I just know they’ll go crazy for it! Great post!

    • Oh they’ll love it I’m sure, Robyn! So much scope for imagination, fun and learning all at the same time.

  2. I love your pond so much.

  3. Wow, so much detail! Lucky kids of yours!

  4. Firstly – your particular fishing game is beautiful!! And secondly – love all the learning tip ideas! Always good to be reminded, how easily it is to sneak in some learning when playing!

  5. This little fishing set is so sweet, and I love all the different games you and your son have come up with to do with it!

  6. Your fish are so cute! What wonderful ways to learn with fish.

  7. What wonderful ideas! I love those fish that you made…I can’t wait for the tutorial. :) Thanks so much for sharing the different ways that R plays with them. I know G would love these.

  8. Brilliant ideas! My kids would love them!

  9. Gorgeous photos and so many great learning opportunities whilst having a fun time! Love :)

  10. love the fishing game you can never go wrong with giving my boy a fishing pole until he decides to turn it into a baseball bat anyway.

  11. Our magnetic fishing set is a hit too, we have the different colours and size, but I didn’t think to add the numbers!

  12. we have some of these that I made when Goblin was really small. I’ll have to fish them out (pun intended!)

  13. These are way cute! They will definitely be finding their way into our “F is for Fish” lesson. Thank you!!

  14. we sooo need to try this! i have done this since *i* was a kid! thanks for the great memories and for linking it up to tip-toe thru tuesday!

  15. Such great ideas to extend and enhance a classic activity! You have inspired me to go and pull out my old laminated fishes to begin using with the girls…although they are not nearly as pretty as your soft ones!

  16. I love these ideas! Thanks so much for sharing with Tuesday Tots! Pinned :)

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    size, colour and imagination | One Perfect Day” lulugrille.com on my very own website.
    Will you mind if Ido? Thanks ,Matilda

  18. its fun… I will introduce this one to my kids

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