Who has a preschooler who doesn’t love pretend fishing games? I haven’t had one yet who didn’t love these in some form or fashion, from the plastic mechanical games where they try to catch the fish as they go around in a circle, to using magnets to catch paper fish with paper clips attached to their “noses,” and even actual fishing with a rod and reel. Mine love them all! I’m not a huge fan of the plastic game (the fish break or get lost) and we can only go fishing for real so often, so coming up with a cute, durable, and easy-to-make hand-crafted alternative is the perfect solution!
For one set of 8 fish and one rod you will need:
- 8 fabric scraps, approximately 2.5″x5″ in size.
- 8 pieces of coordinating felt, approximately 3″x12″
- Paper-backed heat-activated adhesive (I use Heat n’ Bond Ultra, the non-sewing variety for these)
- Fiber fill or similar for stuffing
- 9-10 strong button magnets
- 1- 12″ long 3/8″ diameter (or similar) wooden dowel
- thin ribbon and small (3″x3″ or so) piece of fabric
- sewing machine, thread, glue, tape, etc.
I drew a super simple fish shape on a sheet of white paper. My fish is a little over 2″ from top to bottom and a little over 4″ long. Once I got the shape exactly how I wanted it, I traced over it on the paper in black marker, to make it easier to see through the paper on the adhesive. Next, I traced the shape 8 times onto the paper side of my heat-activated adhesive.
Then I cut them out along the traced line. I use pinking shears, because it keeps fraying down (although so does the adhesive on the back holding it all together) and I think it looks cuter than a straight line. Seriously, I use my pinking shears more when crafting than I use my regular scissors!
Iron the fabric fish onto the felt. I ALWAYS use a piece of fabric or interfacing on top when I’m ironing felt. I’ve never had a problem when I’ve done it this way, but without it you can melt the felt onto your iron if you hold it in one place for too long. Better safe than sorry!
After ironing the fabric fish shape onto the felt, I folded the felt in half so it’s a double layer, and stitch around the edge, just outside (maybe 1/8″ or so) the cutting line. And leave about a 1″ opening at the top of the fish.
I cut them out just outside the stitching line, making sure not to cut into the stitching. I left a little extra border outside the part with the opening, so that I’ll have a little bit more felt to work with when I sew up that opening later.
NOTE: You want to get the strongest button magnets you can find! I used these from Walmart at first, and they weren’t quite strong enough. I bought some others (also at Walmart) that were labeled as super strong or ultra strong or some such, and they worked perfectly. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of that package. But get strong magnets.
Next, I stuffed them with fiberfill. You want enough stuffing to make them nice and puffy, but not stuffed in so tight that it makes the fish heavy. They will be harder to pick up with the magnets if they are too heavy.
Now make the other 7, if you’re doing them one-at-a-time like I did.
Now that you have a school of brightly-colored magnetic fish, let’s make a fishing pole. Cut a piece of narrow ribbon to whatever length you want. I made mine about 18″ long finished length, so I cut it about 22″ long.
I placed about 2″ of the ribbon along the top 2″ of the dowel, and wrapped it in tape. I used washi tape, but you could use regular masking tape, duct tape, electrical tape, hot glue…basically whatever you have!
Then, to make it look better and to make the magnet less accessible, I took about a 3″x3″ scrap of fabric, and with a dot of hot glue I glued the bottom of the magnet stack to the center of the fabric.
NOTE: This is NOT a substitute for supervision…please do NOT let your toddler play with the magnets (or a dowel or long ribbon, for that matter) unsupervised! Safety First!!!
I hope you enjoy this little busy bag craft, and even more so I hope your preschoolers love playing with these as much as mine do! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! And if you make some, I’d love to see them–come back and post a link to your photos so I can come check them out!