DIY Tutorial: Magnetic Fishing Game


I love a project that uses up fabric scraps and recycles odds and endsĀ from around the house. I also love to make toys using natural materials. This is one of our new favorites. I didn’t have to buy a single thing, and I was able to make it using some simple sewing in just a couple of hours.

One nice thing about this game is that it allows for versatile play and can grow with a child. For now, we just set it up and try to hook the fish, and have some fun developing both fine and gross motor skills, and engaging in dramatic play. I plan to make another pole and about a dozen fish total. That way it can be played with a friend and is a way to play cooperatively and share. Later, it can be a prop for more complex games. My mom, who is also a career preschool teacher, uses a similar fishing game with her pre-k students. She sticks letters, numbers, or words to the fish and uses the game to work on recognition, reading, and math skills. Go fish!



A stick or dowel


A small hanging hook or carabiner that is free of sharp edges


Strong magnet



Fabric scraps to make the worm and fish

Stuffing, such as cotton, wool, or polyfill


To make the pole I cut a birch branch, added some twine, and tied a hook on the end. For some reason the previous owners of our house loved hanging things from the ceiling, so we removed several dozen little hooks and just had them in a jar. They can be purchased at any hardware store.

For the worm, I set the magnet on top of some pink corduroy fabric (the perfect material for a worm!) and free handed a cut that allowed room for the magnet to fit inside of the “head” and looked somewhat worm-ish. I left about a quarter inch seam allowance. I turned the front sides in, and inserted a small loop of ribbon at one end of the worm. I used a straight stitch on my sewing machine to do the seams on the worm and fish, but this would not take long to sew by hand. I started stitching near the loop, securing it in place, and continued to stitch around the edges, leaving an opening of about an inch and a half near the head so that I could flip the worm right-side out, and insert the magnet. I put a small bit of stuffing into the worm tail and hand stitched the opening shut.

For the fish, I used some cute and colorful fabric, which I set right-side (pattern side) facing inward, and cut some free hand fish. Again I cut the shapes a bit fatter to allow for a quarter inch seam. I looped some ribbon through a washer. I lined it up so that the washer and a loop of ribbon were between the two layers of fabric, and would be sewn so that they were coming out of the fish mouth when the fish was turned right-side out. If using a sewing machine take care to avoid the washer and don’t let it get underneath the presser foot or needle where it could damage the machine. Sew in the same way as the worm- leaving a small opening that is large enough to accommodate the washer and turn the fish right-side-out.

Make as many fish as you please. When you are finished you should have a little worm that you can loop onto your hook, and a set of fish that will snap neatly onto the “hook” when the magnetic worm touches the washer.

A blue blanket or play silk makes a perfect “pond” for your fish, and we found our couch to be the perfect fishing spot.

I just happened to have enough scrap burlap and canvas to make a simple bag, with a ribbon strap, to carry the fishing game. My toddler likes purses and my inner preschool teacher likes each of her toys, jobs, and games to be stored neatly, in a predictable place, with all of the pieces together.

We like to sing songs about fish while we are fishing. Our two favorites (which you can find the tunes for on Youtube) are “slippery fish” (the Octopus song), and the folk song “You get a line, I’ll get a pole”. I’ve included the lyrics to that one below. Happy Fishing!

The Crawdad Song

You get a line and I’ll get a pole, Honey,
You get a line and I’ll get a pole, Babe.
You get a line and I’ll get a pole,
We’ll go fishin’ in the crawdad hole,
Honey, Baby mine.

Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold, Honey,
Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold, Babe,
Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold,
Lookin’ down that crawdad hole,
Honey, Baby mine.

Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back, Honey,
Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back, Babe,
Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back,
Packin’ all the crawdads he can pack,
Honey, Baby mine.

The man fell down and he broke that sack, Honey,
The man fell down and he broke that sack, Babe,
The man fell down and he broke that sack,
See those crawdads backing back,
Honey, Baby mine.

I heard the duck say to the drake, Honey,
I heard the duck say to the drake, Babe,
I heard the duck say to the drake,
There ain’t no crawdads in this lake,
Honey, Baby mine.