While tidying out a toy cupboard, I was inspired to make this activity by an old fashioned children’s game: Magnetic Fishing. (I plan to make my own portable version of the game in the future (so keep tuned), but this seemed like a great base for an alphabet game. Instead of fishing for fish, we fish for letters.

To make your own you will need:

  • Card
  • A small, tall box
  • Magnets
  • Paperclips
  • String
  • Straws
  • Buttons (optional)
  • Glue
  • Pens
  • Scissors
  1. Begin by tracing around letters and cutting them out, but if you do not want to, then you can easily cut out small squares and write the letters on that. Attach paperclips to your letters
  2. If your box has flaps on them, cut them off. Again, if you want to you can decorate your box. I covered mine with paper so it looked more appealing for my charges to play with
  3. To make the fishing rods, feed the string through the straw. At one end attach it to a button to hold it in place, and at the other end make a basket, out of paper, with the 4 magnets piled on top of each other inside it. I would highly recommend testing you have the magnets the write way up, or it won’t work. The easiest way to attach it to the sting is to poke a pin/ needle through the paper and thread the string through

When I was playing this game with my 3-year-old charge, I only used the letters that she knew the sounds to, she had to fish a letter out and tell me what sound it made. For every correct answer she got a small sweet such as a Smartie. This game can easily be adapted – you could get everyone to keep fishing until there are no more letters left, and then everyone has to call out the sounds they have. For older children, it could be like a game of Boggle – they fish out the letters and then see if they can make any words from them (you may need more sets of letters). It could also be used for word recognition instead of letters.

This could help development of:

  • Letter and sound recognition
  • Fine motor skills


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