Lake and River Activities

Pond Dipping

Learn what's going on underwater -- go pond dipping!
Learn what's going on underwater -- go pond dipping!
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

When kids go pond dipping, they'll discover the complex world of pond life. One way kids can do this is to make a dip net and catch living organisms for observation.

Make­ a day of your pond dipping activity. Gather your supplies, pack a lunch, and spend a day learning about the ecosystem of a body of water nearby.

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

To make a dip net, help kids 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. Fold the wire back over the last staple. Wrap the end in waterproof tape.

Help kids measure the distance around the wire frame. Cut some cheesecloth that width and 18 inches long. 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.

To use the dip net, put rubber boots on you and your kids and wade with them into a pond. Be careful not to wade in water deeper than your boots. Show kids how to hold the net in the water with the handle upright and the netting resting on the pond bottom. Have kids hold a bucket with a little water in it in their other hand.

Show kids how to move slowly through the water while gently moving the net up and down. Stop now and then and dump the contents of their nets into the bucket. After they've done several nettings, come ashore and dump the bucket into a wide pan. Add a little water so their animals can swim.

When kids are done examining their specimens, return the animals to the pond. Some pond animals (like our native turtles) are endangered because of over-collection.

For more outdoor activities for kids: