Have you ever spent hours (or maybe even days) working on a beautiful handmade gift for your child, only to have him consider it, set it aside and go back to jumping on the sofa or tossing dirty socks at the cat (or better yet, tossing dirty socks at his brother)? Okay, so maybe I'm not actually asking about your experience and really just telling you what periodically happens when I make a play-thing for one of my own children.
The upshot of those sometimes unenthusiastic responses, is that I carefully consider whether I, again, want to put time and energy towards making something for them which may (or may not) be played with. And so, a few weeks ago, when I wondered whether my little one might enjoy a magnetic fishing game, I was reluctant to dig out needle & thread and embroider some lovely little felt fish for him to play with. Instead, I cut out some fish from paper, had my boy do a bit of decorating with crayons, added paper-clips to the fish, tied a magnet to a string -- and within twenty minutes, we had a new toy (which, by the way, he played with for quite a long time).
My son's response to the paper fishing toy was so positive that I did, in the end, decide we should put more time and energy into making another magnetic fishing set. However, instead of stitching up the fish, I considered the fact that my son enjoys working with Sculpy/Fimo type clay. Hence, creating a fishing game from this material was a great success, and the best part was that my newly turned 5-year-old was able to do most of the work himself.
2-3 squares of Sculpy or Fimo clay in various colors
6 or 7 small, but very strong magnets
1 round magnet with a hole in the middle
a small piece of cardboard
pencil & scissors
a wooden toothpick
a length of string (perhaps half a meter)
a short stick
a rolling pin or a drinking-cup with flat sides
a baking sheet and oven
STEP 1: Take small chunks of 2-3 colors of your Fimo/Sculpy clay, squeeze together in a ball, press into a pancake and then roll out to approx. 3/8 inch (1/2 cm) thick.
STEP 2: Using a pencil, draw a simple fish shape on a piece of cardboard and cut it out with a scissors. Our fish-template was approx. 2 inches (5 cm) long.
STEP 3: Lay your fish shaped template on the rolled out clay and use a toothpick to "draw" around the edges of the cardboard template, thus cutting out the fish shape from the clay.
STEP 4: After cutting two fish shapes, lay one of your small (but very strong) magnets in the center of one of the clay shapes, place the other fish shape over the magnet, sandwiching the magnet between the two, and...
STEP 5: Carefully pinch around the edges to seal the magnet inside (note -- I did a bit of smoothing around the edges of the fish after this step).
STEP 6: Place your fish on a metal tray lined with baking parchment or aluminum foil, then carefully read the instructions written on the Fimo/Sculpy packet for baking and follow the instructions exactly as printed.
Note: Do not accidentally heat the oven 100 degrees over the recommended temperature. Do not ignore the timer when it rings. Do remove your Fimo/Sculpy items from the oven in a timely fashion. Burnt polymer clay smell horrendous. I speak from experience. You're welcome.
STEP 6: Tie one end of a string to your stick (our stick is approx. 4 in./10cm long) and tie the other end of the string around your magnet.
STEP 7: Go fishing! Make fish soup! Have fun!
FINAL NOTE: It is important to wear rain boots on fishing expeditions as you will want to to keep your feet nice and dry. It may also be important to bring along green paper and scissors as it might possibly be necessary to add some aquatic plants to your fishing pond.