It’s Christmas crunch time! If you haven’t any spare cash but do have some spare time, why not make a last minute children’s gift instead of buying one? This fishing game is perfect for young children—especially those who spend winters cooped up at home. It’s lots of fun to play with, and it’s also educational (develops imagination, counting, adding, and motor skills). Plus I really loved using up scraps from some of my favorite fabrics to make a game for my kiddo.
Check out how easy this fish game is to make! I happened to have all of the materials on hand except the magnets, so this was super budget friendly for me. Oh, and be sure to note areas you can tweak the instructions for the tools you have at home.
-fabric scraps in coordinating colors
-felt in a contrasting color
-dowel rod (diameter is your preference)
-11 circle magnets—at least one super duty like these
-glue (super glue isn’t necessary—I ended up using tacky glue)
-permanent marker (not shown)
-power drill (optional)
-small drill bit (optional)
–countersink drill bit (optional)
Step One: Print out the template and trace 10 fish, 10 fish belly shapes (as shown above right), and 1 of each number onto the paper/slick side of the fusible webbing.
Step Two: Rough cut each shape you traced (leave a small border around the shape) and iron onto your fabric’s back side according to the webbing’s instructions—probably pressing with a hot and dry iron for 10 seconds. Don’t forget about the letter shapes! I ironed mine onto white felt.
Step Three: Now you may carefully cut out each shape, including the felt letters. But only peel off the back of the fish belly and iron onto the fish shape as shown above. (Don’t peel off the fish shape’s backing just yet, and don’t peel off the felt letter backing at any point.) Iron according to the webbing’s instructions—probably pressing with a damp cloth for 12-15 seconds.
Step Four: Peel off the backing of the fish now and press (according to the webbing’s instructions) onto the back side of coordinating fabric, with a magnet placed where the mouth of the fish would be.
Step Five: Cut out the fused fabric into the fish shape, and glue the felt letters to the fish belly. I used tacky glue for this.
Step Six: Drill a hole into one end of your dowel rod. The hole should be large enough for your string to thread through. If you do not have a drill, skip this step and simply tie your string to the dowel and glue it in place instead.
Step Seven: Sand down one side of your wooden bead to make a flat gluing surface for the magnet. I also used a countersink drill bit here to make some space to recess the string’s knot. You could also just use a larger drill bit or sandpaper to make this recessed area.
Step Eight: Thread the string through the wooden bead and knot it to keep it from pulling back through the bead. Then glue a heavy duty magnet onto the sanded flat surface, covering the string’s knot.
Of course, you can make as many fish as you’d like for your collection, and you don’t have to feel restricted to using numbers. It might be fun to name the fish instead using puffy paint! It’s totally up to you and the kiddo in your life.
I made two fishing rods for our set and plan to have competitions with my daughter Lucy to see who can catch the most fish, and then we’ll add up the numbers of each fish to see whose catches are worth more. This project actually happened to be timed perfectly, too! Lucy came home from my in-laws’ house asking to go fishing with the fishing game. After investigating, I discovered she had played a game like this at their house and had become obsessed with fishing the very same week I planned to make this project. To say she was excited about it would be an understatement! Of course I couldn’t make her wait for Christmas.
I love making toys like this for my kids because I can customize them to my own taste and often use up odd supplies I have in my craft arsenal. What kind of homemade gifts are you giving this year? –Mandi
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.