toddler fishing game with blue mat pond

Fin-tastic DIY Toddler Fishing Game: Craft + Science Experiment

Does your toddler love fish and want to go fishing? Maybe you can’t wait to pass on your own love of fishing or maybe you have no clue and don’t want to touch a worm! Either way, this toddler fishing game is a simple magnet fishing game to make and the perfect solution for both problems!

Your child will love it and you will too because it’s easy and practically free!!   

pinterest pin Toddler Fishing Game Craft and Toy showing toddler paper fishing game

Ready for fishing anytime, in any weather – even winter ice fishing? Read on and be sure to check out the 10 ways to play this easy DIY magnet fishing game!

**This post contains affiliate links meaning at no cost to you I earn from purchases made through the links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn through qualifying purchases.  Read my full disclosure. **

Toddler DIY Fishing Game Materials:

The craft supplies for this toddler fishing game are probably already in your house, so it’s the perfect craft for you to try today! 

  • construction paper or cardstock
  • crayons, markers
  • decorations (stickers, sequins, etc.) *optional
  • yarn or string
  • long stick or wrapping paper roll
  • stapler + staples
  • fridge magnet – big enough it can’t be swallowed
  • tape
  • scissors (I always recommend these safety scissors for older toddlers to start learning)

Happy Moments Mom Tips:

  1. Don’t let a lack of string stop you – use some floss for now!
  2. Be creative – any long rigid item will work for the rod, make it a treasure hunt for some fun before the craft if you need to find something to make work!

Prep Time Fun

Fish Jokes for Toddlers:

Why are fish so smart?  They spend all their time in schools.

What do sea monsters eat?  Fish and ships!

Why don’t fish like basketball? They’re scared of the net!

How does a fish get to the hospital?  A clambulance

Fun Fish Facts:

The biggest fish in the world is called a whale shark and can be up to 39 ft long. That’s about the length of a school bus!

The smallest fish in the world are only 6.2mm (¼ inch) long!

One of the most colorful fish in the world is the Mandarinfish. 

Fish Counting Fun:

DIY Toddler Fishing Game Craft Instructions:

 This easy magnet fishing game craft has only four steps.  It does require some parent involvement to make the game, but you are working together with your child and entertaining them at the same time so it still fits the mom effort vs. kid fun balance of all Happy Moments Mom projects!

Also, although it’s called a toddler fishing game this is definitely good for a preschool fishing game too – in fact I’d say even younger school age children will have fun with this game too!

Step 1: Cut Out Fish Shapes

Make fish shapes different sizes and colours, but don’t worry about perfection or complicated designs!!

Here is a super simple way to draw a fish that absolutely anyone can do!!!  Seriously, I am crafty, but I always joke with my older students that I can’t even draw stick people well!

The outline can be left simple because it’s the fun decoration by your toddler that makes the fish awesome!  In fact, an older toddler can even help draw the fish too.

easy 3 step fish drawing tutorial

Add more shapes of fish but still use this exact same 3 step drawing process.  You simply need to change the shape of the lines in one or more of the steps.

  • Make the fish shorter and taller or longer and skinner
  • Add a shape to the end of the fish tail
  • Make the fish tail short or tall.

There are so many options for your fishing game fish with this one easy method!  Here are some examples:

toddler fishing game fish shapes to draw

Step 2: Decorate the Fish

This is your toddler’s time to shine!!

Kids can let their imaginations loose and be creative decorating the fish.  That usually means a longer, more engaged craft time which is good for both kids and moms who have busy, busy days! craft supplies collage

Use whatever you have in your arts & crafts supplies to decorate some beautiful fish! The only thing to be aware of is the weight – don’t glue on a million heavy buttons or that fish won’t ever stay stuck to the magnet fishing rod!

At our house we had crayons, sequins, ribbon and stickers ready to go, but my kiddos just wanted to colour the fish!  So paper and crayons were all we needed and yet the toddler fishing game is well-loved and has been played with many, many times!

Just goes to show you it’s not all about showy, fancy crafts!

construction paper fish for toddler fishing game

If you want to add even more science to your craft than the experiment you’ll hear about in the next step, the fish themselves are a great activity.  A quick Google search will show you so many amazing fish your child can try to recreate!

Step 3: Magnet Fishing Game Time

It is SO EASY to make your fish magnetic!!  Just put a few staples on your fish!!  blue stapler

Three staples in a row near the middle is what I’ve found works best to make it a magnet fishing game.  This gives enough for the magnet “bait” to pick them up.  Depending on your magnet’s strength you may need more or less.

Yes, adults probably need to use the stapler but kids can be involved too.  If you’re comfortable, hold the fish in the stapler on a hard surface and let your older toddler press down on the on toddler fishing game fish


Take a little time out from crafting for some science fun to explore how their new toddler fishing game is going to work! Magnetism is like magic for anyone, let alone a toddler.  It’s an invisible force we can actually see in a way by seeing things be pulled to the magnet.

**SAFETY FIRST**This experiment requires constant adult participation and supervision.

  1. Make sure your magnet is big enough that it cannot be swallowed.
  2. A lot of the magnetic things around your house are small.  Do everything with your kids but you need to be handling the small parts to make sure nothing goes in little mouths.


Collect a bunch of items from around the house and use your magnet to see what things it will stick to it and what won’t.

Magnetic Household Items:

  • paper clips
  • hair clips
  • coin
  • nails or screws
  • metal toys (maybe)
  • staples on a fish

Non-magnetic Household Items:

  • stuffed animal
  • paper
  • wooden toy
  • craft supplies
  • plastic toys
  • aluminum foil (important for the idea that not all metals are magnetic)

Anything with any iron, nickel or cobalt will stick.  Most things at your house are ones with iron – anything steel has iron in it.  Unfortunately a lot of these things are also little or sharp, so adults need to be responsible for these!

Magnetic Force Experiment Procedure:

Touch the magnet to each item to see if it sticks.

Before you try each item have your child guess Stick or No Stick.    Your child may have experience with the magnetic wooden trains that will help them predict what will happen. magnet experiment

As you progress through the items, record the result by sorting the items as the two categories.  Your child may notice the similarities of the shiny metals sticking to the magnet while the soft materials don’t.  This is where the aluminum foil comes in – leave it until near the end!

To quote my 4 year old when I asked her what she knows about magnets as we got started: “What I know is that magnets stick to metals!” The look on her face when after sticking it to a bunch of metals and then nothing happening when she tried to stick it to the aluminum foil was priceless!!!  It shows that not all shiny metals are magnetic!

Finish with putting the staples in your fish first with one, then two, then three and so on staples in a row  until you find an amount that works well for your magnet to pick it up easily.

Make sure it works for all sizes of fish by testing each with your magnet as you go!

Try another super easy SCIENCE EXPERIMENT:  Snack Time Science

Step 4: Make a Toddler Size Magnet Fishing Game Rod

No toddler fishing game is complete without a rod to catch the fish!

Tie the string to the end of the rod:

Tie your string tightly to the end of your stick. Use tape to secure it if it feels like it may slip off.  The stick option is great because it will last forever!

If using a wrapping paper tube, poke a hole about an inch from the end and tie the string through it.

toddler fishing game homemade rod

The wrapping paper tube is great because your child can also decorate it.  The wider tube lets kids turn it to wrap the string and “reel in” their fish too! You can do this on a stick too, but with it being skinnier will take longer and may be more difficult for little hands.

The downside of the wrapping paper rod is that after many playtimes it may lose its rigidity and become floppy.  I just see that as an opportunity for an updated rod which also renews the excitement of the game.

Tie on your magnet fishing game “hook”:

To find a good length of string have your child hold the new fishing rod up with the string dangling down.  Mark where the string hits the floor then cut it a few inches bigger to have space for attaching the magnet.

Wrap and tie the string around your magnet then use tape to make sure it doesn’t slide off.  Make the knot of the tie in the center of the magnet so it lowers flat/face down.

That’s it – you’ve got the fish, you’ve got a rod – you’re all set!

Want another craft that becomes a toy?! Check out these DIY JIGSAW PUZZLES!!

10 Ways to Play Your DIY Preschool Fishing Game

Now that craft time is done, it’s play time for your toddler (or preschooler or young school age kid – remember, this DIY fishing game actually applies to lots of ages)!!!child catching a fish with the toddler fishing game

There are so many ways to play this toddler fishing game.  Your child can come back to again and again with it being just a little bit different every time.  You can sneak some great learning in too!!

Free Pretend Fishing Play

Put the fish down and just go fishing!  Sit up on a bed or a chair that can be your pretend boat and go for it!  Bonus points for adding in a blue towel, blanket or other item (we use my yoga mat!) to be the water the fish are in!

How Big Is Your Catch? 

Who can catch the biggest fish? Or the smallest fish? Perhaps try and catch the fish in order from biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest!  This is such an excellent and fun math activity for little ones.

Fish Shape

Make some of your fish shapes be matching pairs.  Once they’re all mixed up in the “pond” have your toddler find the pairs and catch them together.

Counting Fish

How many fish can you catch at one time?! Use a different amount each time and ask: “How many fish are there in the pond?”. Count hw many fish are left?  Who caught the most fish? So much math fun!

Alphabet Surprise

Write a letter on the underside of each fish.  Use the letters in your child’s name and then try to catch a specific letter.  They catch a fish and turn it over to check the letter.  Catch and release until they’ve found the letter they are looking for!

Number Surprise

Put numbers on the fish too and play looking for a certain number.  Step up the learning if you want by saying you need to get to 10 – if your child catches a fish with 6 on it, count together to figure out how many more you need to get to 10 and have them try to catch that fish.

Want more alphabet and number learning opportunities?

Check out these fun learning games too!

I Spy Colour Challenge

Play with your child and take turns challenging each other to catch a specific colour fish.

Fishing Clues

Pick a fish for your child to catch.  Give one clue, then they catch a fish that it could be.  If it’s not the right fish, give another clue to help  narrow down the choices.  They fish again to catch the right one.  Keep going until they catch the right fish!

Ice Fishing

Cut a hole in the bottom of a cardboard box.  Turn it over and cover the fish.  Play the game having to fish through the hole!

Real Water Fishing

No, this one won’t work for the paper fish, but if you take a couple minutes to cut a few simply fish out of foam like this instead you’re ready for the water!  Take the rod you already have outside to a kiddie pool for some fishing and splashing fun.

Don’t have a kiddie pool? Use your bathtub or for a really memorable experience on a rainy day turn a big puddle into a fish pond!  That’ll be sure to create a happy moment that will be a stand out memory for your child!school of fish on pinterest pin

Fishing for More?

If this has just made your toddler want to go “real” fishing even more and you still the mom that wants nothing to do with the worms don’t fret!  I’m in the same boat – a fishing boat I suppose hehe – so I’ve got a solution for that too!

Where I live fishing is very popular and I have friends who love it.  Their expert solution for the child wanting to fish:  Go fishing without bait!

There are lots of children’s fishing sets like this one that can be used empty for toddlers but comes with everything you will need if you want to really try fishing as your child gets older.

amazon link showing kids fishing kit with rod and hooks

Your little toddler or preschooler will love to use it at a pond or stream with just a bobbin on to see their line.  Your child gets to learn about how to cast off, how to reel in the line and feel like they are really fishing!

No yucky bait – and no fish to deal with if they actually happened to catch something if you had used it!

This is the best of both worlds and what we will do next when my kids get tired of “fishing” by just putting a big stick in the water!

This whole toddler fishing game experience is a jackpot of fun and by being a magnet fishing game lots of learning opportunities happen naturally too!  So much pretend play fun, learning and developmental opportunities for hand-eye coordination and motor skills!

Your little one will just see an awesome toddler fishing game and have a lot of fun, but from a mom’s perspective this simple, budget-friendly toddler activity checks so many boxes of the things we try to include in a day!

Enjoy a happy moment,

❤ Sara

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2 thoughts on “Fin-tastic Toddler Fishing Game & Craft All in One”

  1. Thanks, I hope you have as much fun with it as we have! We first made this over a year ago and it’s still a favourite brought out on rainy days!

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