A child’s name will be one of the first words they will learn to recognise and read. It’s a word they see all the time, written on labels above their pegs at nursery or in wooden letters hanging on their bedroom door.
So fishing for letters is a great way to make spelling out their name fun. You could play it in the kitchen or even in the bathtub at bathtime. Your child will be so busy enjoying the fishing that it will feel more like play than learning. And often that’s the best learning of all.
Time: 10 minutes
Ages: Little kids
Difficulty to make: Easy peasy
Skill: First Phonics, Spelling Your Name
Disclosure: may contain some affiliate links
Step 1: Draw your sea creatures
On your foam sheets draw the outline of a sea creature, using a black Sharpie (or other waterproof permanent pen). We drew a whale, as it has a nice easy outline. You can add a smile too!
To help out we’ve got FREE Printable Sea Creature Outlines which you can use to draw around.
Print out the sheet, cut around the animals and place them on the foam to draw around the outline.
If you prefer to buy some readymade sea creatures, Amazon has a Foam Bath Animal Set available here.
Step 2: Cut out your sea creatures
Cut out your foam sea creature and stick on some googly eyes.
Step 3: Make some more sea creature friends
Make several more sea creatures from foam.
You can make them all the same, or make them all different.
We made whales, sharks, turtles, an octopus and fish.
Step 4: Write letters on the back
On the back of each sea creature write a letter, again using your black Sharpie.
First write each letter in your child’s name. Then, on the remaining sea creatures, write a selection of different lower case letters.
We added some googly eyes to the backs of our sea creatures too, to make them look cuter.
Step 5: Time to swim
Fill a plastic tray or storage container with water and pop all the sea creatures in so they float around.
If you’re playing this game at bathtime you can tip them into the bath instead.
Step 6: Let’s go fishing
Ask your child to take the fishing net and catch a sea creature. Once they have caught one in their net they can look underneath and see what letter is written on the back.
Is it a letter in their name? If not, they can throw it back into the water.
If it is, they can place it on a foam sheet or stick it on the bath tiles.
Step 7: Start spelling your name
If your child needs some help to remember what letters are in their name and which order they go in, you can write their name out on a sheet of foam.
Your child can then cover each letter with the sea creature they fish out that has the same letter.
If you’re playing this game in the bath, the foam sheets stick easily to the tiles above the bath when they are wet.
Once your child fishes out a letter in their name they can place it in the right place on the foam sheet or on the bath tiles.
They must keep on fishing until they have caught all the letters in their name.
Extending the game
You can play the fishing for letters game over and over again until your child really feels comfortable with spelling their name.
To extend the game you could write some simple words on foam sheets. Then ask your child to fish for the letters to build the words.
This is a great way of learning words that your child is practising in school when they start learning phonics.
For example, you could ask them to fish for letters to make up words like ‘cat’, ‘mat’ and ‘bat’.
Learning Each Letter Sound
Sound out each letter that they find as they add it to their ‘board’. When each word is ready you can sound out all the letters again and then place them in the right order to spell out the word.
As you repeat the words over and over, your child will get an idea of how the sounds can be blended together into a word, even if you’re doing it for them at first.
Most importantly just let them have fun exploring the different letters and letter sounds with this fishing for letters game.