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You know those claw machines at the arcade that kids go crazy for? Fishing for ABCs is basically that game, but instead of spending $5 to (most likely) not get a toy, why not play this far more rewarding AND educational version using vocabulary words and letter tiles instead?

Kids decorate their own “fish bowl” using an ice cream carton or tissue box. Parents (or older kids) build a “fishing rod” using a wooden dowel and some magnets, and then fill the fish bowl with letters and early vocabulary words. Kids go “fishing” for letters to create words, or simply to practice saying the letters of the alphabet. Older kids can fish for words and create sentences. There are endless ways to play!

Especially in the early stages of learning, kids crave sensory play to help connect mind and body. Physically handling the fishing pole and fetching the letters keeps them engaged, while also practicing fine motor skills. This game is also great practice for letter recognition (I know this shape is a letter “L”) and letter sound correspondence (The letter “L” makes the /l/ sound).

Ayla (age 7) was excited to paint her fish bowl, fetch words to make sentences, and sort her letters by color (sorting is another awesome skill to flex in this game).

Lennon (age 3) had a great time spelling her name and winding up the fishing pole.

Did you try this activity out with your kids? Let us know how it went! Tag us on social media @mothergooseclub #ShowMeHow.

SHOW ME HOW!

Supplies:

Instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the fishing container: Find a suitable fishing container like an ice cream tub, a tissue box or a cake box.

Step 2: Cut a hole on the lid at least 3 inches in diameter at the center of the container’s lid.

Step 3: Prime the container by painting the outside with white acrylic paint. This layer of paint hides the print on the tub or box and prepares the surface for the final colors of paint.

Step 4: Paint the container: Once the layer of white paint dries, paint the container with various colors of tempera, poster paint or acrylic paint. You can make stripes, dots, swirls or other patterns. You can also paint an ocean theme or any design you like.

Step 5: Make paper squares or fishes: Cut out several 1-inch squares or small fish shapes from construction paper.

Create alphabet letters: Write a letter on each paper square or fish using colored markers or crayons. If you intend to level up to a spelling activity, make sure to add more vowel tiles. Put a metal paper clip on each of the letters. Put the letters in the fishbowl.

Tip: Make this activity a fun challenge by asking your kids to fish for the letters of their name.

Make a fishing pole: Cut string to a length of about 1½ to 2 feet. Tape one end of the string to a small magnet. Tie the opposite end to the tip of a drinking straw or wooden dowel.

Fish for letters: Finally, have kids use the fishing rod to catch alphabet letters inside the container. The magnet on the fishing rod will attract the metal paper clips on the letter squares. Have kids identify each letter they catch.

Level up! Spell some words: Fish for a few letters and see how many words you can spell. As a math activity, count all the letters caught or the words created. You can also incorporate shapes learning by making the letter tiles out of different shapes instead of just squares and using numbers.

Make it a game! Set a timer and see how many words your kids can form in 3 minutes. Winner gets to help clean the next ice cream carton 😉

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