Fish Activities

Shining a flashlight underwater at night helps you to view fish better.
Shining a flashlight underwater at night helps you to view fish better.

Fish activities for kids are a perfect way for kids to interact with animals from the sea without getting too wet. Observing these underwater creatures is no small feat, but with some adult help on a few of these projects, it will be like you're right in the water with them.

Even if you live in a city or suburban area away from large bodies of water, you can still produce and enjoy fish activities. All you need are a few items, some creativity, and the desire to go back to "school."


Follow the links below to learn how to dive into fish activities.

Curly Fish

Amaze your friends with this scientific trick with a fish made from plastic.

Underwater Egg Investigation

Venturing out into nature lets you see for yourself how ocean creatures hatch from eggs.

Fish Prints

Buy a fish from the grocery store, and brush it with paint to design your own prints.

Catch the Fish

Get hooked by playing this numbered fish game with a bunch of your friends.

Awesome Aquascope

Build an aquascope to help you see creatures in water without getting wet.

Pond Dip Net

By making this net, you'll be able to see and catch pond organisms up close and personal.

Our Watery World

Crack open some reference books and learn all about the earth's oceans and rivers.

Underwater Night Life

Certain aquatic creatures venture out at nighttime, and this activity will help you view those who prefer the moon to the sun.

Keep reading to learn about a fishy scientific experiment with a slippery twist.

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Curly Fish
Curly Fish

School your friends with this curly fish experiment. Don't forget to tell them how it works when you're done.

What You'll Need:

  • Celluloid
  • Scissors
  • Bowl of water

How to Make Curly Fish:

Step 1: Cut a simple fish shape from a sheet of celluloid. Your fish should be about four inches long and one inch wide at the widest part of its body and one inch wide from tip to tip of its V-shaped tail.

Step 2: Drop the fish into a bowl of water.

Step 3: Tell a friend that your fish is so lifelike that if someone picks it up out of the water, it will curl up. When your friend picks up the fish from the water and puts it in his or her hand, probably nothing will happen. But if you rub your two hands together vigorously and then ask your friend to put the fish flat on your open hand, the fish will curl its head and tail together within a few seconds.

Keep reading and find out how to observe fish eggs in their outdoor habitat.

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During the spring, certain animals lay eggs in ponds near your house. With a little underwater egg investigation, you can watch these eggs turn into animals over time.

What You'll Need:

  • Frog, salamander, toad, or snail eggs
  • Shallow pan
  • Water
  • Magnifying glass

How to Create an Underwater Egg Investigation:

Step 1: In the spring, hunt around the edges of ponds in your area to look for the jellylike eggs of frogs, salamanders, and toads. Salamander eggs lie in stiff masses, often with green algae living inside the jelly. Frog and toad eggs may be laid in strings or soft masses.

Step 2: Pull some loose leaves out of the water; you may find small blobs containing snail eggs on the undersides of submerged leaves. If you have an aquarium with snails, look for their eggs, too.

Step 3: When you find eggs, put them in a shallow pan with some water and have a look. Use your magnifying glass to observe them. Freshly laid eggs will have little for you to see, but older eggs will have tiny tadpoles inside them. Snail eggs will have tiny white embryonic snails moving slowly inside.

Step 4: Put the eggs back in the water and mark the spot where you found them.

Step 5: Return once a week and check the progress of the eggs. See how long it takes for the tadpoles or baby snails to hatch. Don't take the eggs home in a jar to watch. It's best to leave the eggs in their natural setting, where they will be at the correct temperature and will receive plenty of oxygen. The eggs will suffocate in a confined jar.

Now that you see where fish come from, keep reading to learn how to construct print designs of these scaly creatures.

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Fish Prints
Fish Prints

"Gyotaku" -- or fish printing -- is a well-respected form of art in Japan. Make your own beautiful fish prints using real fish.

What You'll Need:

  • Thin paper (real rice paper is best, but newsprint will work)
  • Fish with heavy scales
  • Pan
  • Brush
  • Water-based ink or tempura paint

How to Create Fish Prints:

Step 1: Purchase special inks and rice paper for your prints, or simply use newsprint and paint.

Step 2: Select a fish with large scales for the best prints. Lay it in a pan, and wipe it clean.

Step 3: Using a brush, cover the fish with a very thin coat of water-based ink or paint. You can make the whole fish one color, or use different colors on the fins, make stripes -- or whatever you like.

Step 4: Lay the paper on top of the fish. Gently press the paper onto the fish, using your fingers to shape it around the curves of the fish's body.

Step 5: Slowly peel back the paper and look at your print. Try printing again without adding more ink. Sometimes the second print is better. You can make fishy T-shirts and bandannas if you use fabric paint instead of ink or tempera paint.

Keep reading to learn how to get hooked with a creative new fishing game.

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Flounder around for higher scores every time you catch the fish in this counting game.

What You'll Need:

  • Colored paper
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips
  • Large cardboard box
  • Magnet
  • String
  • Yardstick or dowel
  • Colored markers

How to Play Catch the Fish:

Step 1: Cut out two dozen three-inch fish from different colors of paper (the simpler the fish, the easier the fishing). Slip a paper clip on the end of each fish, and toss them into an empty cardboard box.

Step 2: Tie a magnet to an end of a 24-inch string, and dangle it from the end of a yardstick or dowel. As you cast your line into the box, you'll reel in colorful fish time and time again.

Step 3: Assign each color of fish a point value; red is one point, blue is three points, green is six points, etc. Then, as you catch fish, keep adding up your score.

Step 4: Decorate the outside of the box with a creative seascape -- sunken treasure, flippered flounders, friendly mermaids, and more.

Care to see real fish up close? Keep reading to learn how to design your own aquascope.

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Awesome Aquascope
Awesome Aquascope

Have you ever looked at the surface of a pond or stream and wished you could see what was going on down there? With this awesome aquascope, now you can.

What You'll Need:

  • Half-gallon milk carton
  • Knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large rubber band
  • Heavy tape

How to Make an Awesome Aquascope:

Step 1: Take an empty half-gallon milk carton, and cut the bottom and top off the carton.

Step 2: Stretch clear plastic wrap over one end of the carton. Use a big rubber band to hold it in place tight, or use heavy tape. You just made your own aquascope.

Step 3: Head for that pond or stream. If the water is deep, have an adult along with you. Hold the plastic-covered end of your aquascope just under the surface of the water, and look through the other end. What's going on down there? Be careful not to harm any of the wildlife.

If the aquascope still doesn't get you a close enough look, keep reading to learn how to observe water organisms with a pond net instead.

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Pond Dip Net
Pond Dip Net

One way to explore water life is to create a pond dip net and catch living organisms for observation. Don't forget to return the animals back to the pond when you're done.

What You'll Need:

  • Stiff wire coat hanger
  • Broomstick
  • Heavy wood staples (the kind that are hammered in)
  • Tape measure
  • Waterproof tape
  • Safe scissors
  • Cheesecloth or wide-mesh nylon net
  • Needle and thread
  • Tall rubber boots
  • Large metal pan (such as an aluminum roasting pan)
  • Bucket

How to Make a Pond Dip Net:

Step 1: To make a dip net, bend a stiff wire coat hanger in the shape of a D, leaving the hook in the middle of the straight part of the D. Straighten the hook and use heavy wood staples to fasten the straightened hook to the end of a broomstick.

Step 2: Fold the wire back over the last staple. Wrap the end in waterproof tape.

Step 3: Measure the distance around the wire frame. Cut some cheesecloth that width and 18 inches long.

Step 4: Sew the ends together into a tube. Stitch one end of the tube shut. Sew the open end of the tube to the frame by turning the edge over the frame then stitching the fabric to itself.

Step 5: To use your dip net, put on rubber boots and wade into a pond (with an adult along). Be careful not to wade in water deeper than your boots.

Step 6: Hold the net in the water with the handle upright and the net resting on the pond bottom. Have a bucket with a little water in it ready

in the other hand.

Step 7: Move slowly through the water and gently move the net up and down. Stop now and then and dump the contents of your net into the bucket. After you've done several nettings, come ashore and dump the bucket into a wide pan. Add a little water so your animals can swim.

Step 8: When you are done, return the animals to the pond. Some pond animals (such as native turtles) are endangered because of over-collection.

Put on your thinking caps -- continue on the next page to learn all about the earth's oceans and rivers.

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Our Watery World
Our Watery World

About three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered with water. Find out more about our watery world when you read all about oceans or rivers.

What You'll Need:

  • One or more books about oceans or rivers
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Markers

How to Study Our Watery World:

Step 1: Go to your library and find some books on oceans and rivers.

Step 2: Compare similarities and contrast the differences between the two by creating a chart or writing a report. Where can you find a whale or dolphin? A trout or catfish? How many ways can we protect these valuable bodies of water?

Step 3: Draw pictures to accompany the charts or reports on what you've learned.

Not all ocean activity happens during the day, and many exciting underwater adventures occur after the sun goes down. Keep reading to learn how to examine oceanic night life.

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Underwater Night Life
Underwater Night Life

Some water-dwellers are more active at night than during the day. Learn how to observe the underwater night life up-close.

What You'll Need:

  • Strong flashlight
  • Plastic bags
  • Tape
  • Rope or string
  • Notebook
  • Pen

How to Observe Underwater Night Life:

Step 1: Have an adult go along with you for this project. At night, go down to a dock or a similar place where you can look down into water at least a few feet deep. You could also go out on a pond in a boat. Whether on a dock or a boat, always put on a life vest for safety.

Step 2: Seal a flashlight into a plastic, zipper-type bag. Roll the bag around the flashlight, then seal it in a second bag. Tape the edges for a watertight seal.

Step 3: Tie a light rope or heavy string to the flashlight, turn it on, and lower it down into the water.

Step 4: Wait patiently, and soon the light will attract curious creatures. See what kinds of fish and other creatures are active at night.

Step 5: Keep a nature notebook. Draw what you see and try to identify the animals. Try this in several different areas and compare. See what differences there are between different bodies of water.

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Underwater Egg Investigation by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, Kelly Milner Halls

Pond Dip Net by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe, Kelly Milner Halls