Occasionally I write about the satisfaction of creating simple and inexpensive homemade activities for children. There is a certain sense of fulfilment as a parent when you and your child work on something that will keep them entertained, but also opens a window for all sorts of imaginative play. This week the Ashland children’s department will be giving out Take & Make kits that tick all the boxes of just that kind of “do-it-yourself” creative play activity. It’s time to go fishing! 

If you can’t make it to Ashland, no worries! This activity is easily put together with supplies most of us have in our homes. Here are some ideas for supplies to get you started:

  • Paper bag, cereal box, or paper
  • Scissors
  • Supplies to decorate the fish (crayons, markers, paint, etc.)
  • Chopstick, small tree branch, bamboo, or even a paper towel tube
  • String, yarn, or twine
  • Paper clip or twist tie
  • Tape
craft supplies - crayons, paper, paperclips, string, chopsticks, scissors

First, you’ll need to either draw a couple of a fish freehand or print out the template. If you are drawing your fish freehand, just remember to include a little tab at the end the fish’s head. 

fish template

I wanted something more heavy duty to create my fish, so I used an old cereal box and corrugated cardboard. You can just use printer paper, but the tab on the end will need extra reinforcement to help it stand up. 

cardboard fish

To keep the activity interesting, I recommend having at least 3 to 5 fish to decorate and catch. Embellishments like googly eyes, tissue paper, sequins, or stickers always add a little fun to the project, and can be purchased at a dollar store or local craft store, but anything you have on hand will be fine. 

cardboard fish decorated with tissue paper and sequins

After you’re done decorating your fish, take the tab on the end and bend it up. 

Use a hole punch and punch the center of the tab several times to create a good-sized opening. You can also use scissors to achieve a similar result.

cardboard fish close-up of googly eyes and tabs with holes punched out

Now it’s time to move on to the fishing pole. If you have chopsticks or paper towel tubes, those will work, but you can also take a walk around the neighborhood and look for sticks to use. I have a stand of bamboo in my yard, so that’s the material I’ll be using for my fishing pole. 

 Once you’ve decided on the material for your pole, cut a piece of yarn or string. Gauge the length of string to the size of your child. A good rule of thumb: try not to make it any longer than the length of your child’s arm.  

After you’ve figured out how long the string should be, leave about three or four inches on each end. This will be used to tie the string to the stick and to tie the “hook” to the end of the string.  

Take your string, tie it to the end of your pole, and wrap it around a couple of times.

bamboo stick with blue string tied around one end

Add some heavy-duty tape to secure the yarn. Duct tape is a wonderful choice for this purpose. 

bamboo stick with blue string taped to one end with red tape

I used a large paper clip that I opened to form a hook. You can also use a small paper clip or sturdy twist tie.  

completed craft fishing stick project

Fantastic job! You are done!  

The best part about this activity is that it can spin off into a whole series of adventures. Do you have a cardboard box you can make into a “boat?” What about a blue blanket or tablecloth for the water? How about a camping adventure? Make a campfire out of sticks and colored paper, twinkle lights, or even a night light, and then create a tent out of blankets. What’s for dinner? You guessed it! Catch some fish from a nearby “stream “and cook them over the fire. The possibilities for imaginative play are endless.  

It’s important to note that imaginative play is one of the building blocks for your child’s development, which makes total sense. Just think about some aspects of imaginative play, such as role playing, problem solving, and practicing communication skills. It’s also an opportunity for a child to build their confidence and feel more empowered when dealing with new or unknown situations. For more information on the importance of imaginative play and how to foster it, take a look at this website.

To round out the experience even further, incorporate a story to read to your child. For book suggestions check out the booklist “Imagination Inspiration.” You never know what new adventures await you and your child.