This post is going to focus on how you can use common games to help develop your gross motor, fine motor, social, emotional and cognitive skills. Today’s blog is focused on the game Let’s Go Fishing! This is a fun and simple game that can involve many players. Have a look at how Let’s Go Fishing can support your child’s development.

Gross motor skills

You don’t have to be limited to only following the rules when playing a board game. You can always integrate different challenges into the game to help work on gross motor skills.

  • Encourage your child to sit cross legged or lie on their stomach while playing to increase their core strength.
  • Hide the pieces around the room then use various animal walks (E.g. bear, duck, crab) to get the fish before setting the board to play the game. You can also try to make it fit the theme by selecting animals that eat fish.
  • Encourage your child to pick one fish they would like to catch first and follow the fish with their rod (with the rod held just above the fish) until the fish opens its mouth. This is a great way to practice hand eye coordination and sense of timing. It also ensures that your child is crossing their midline (which is where they bring their right hand to the left half of their body and vice versa) which is an important skill for daily tasks such as dressing.

Fine motor skills

Let’s Go Fishing is in itself a brilliant game for fine motor skills as it involves careful control of the rod to catch each fish.

  • Ensure your child uses a pincer grasp (using the thumb and index finger with other fingers tucked away) when picking and placing the fish to set up the game.
  • Ensure your child holds the rod properly with a pincer grasp at the knob of the fishing rod.

Cognitive skills

  • This game is great for encouraging visual tracking as your child follows the fish around the board.
  • Have your child call out the colours as they catch the fish.
  • Encourage your child to set up the board following a pattern (e.g. red, blue, yellow etc.) or to put fish of the same colour together.
  • Similarly, you can make the game more challenging by encouraging your child to catch the fish in a pattern or order. You can have this pattern written down to make the task easier or get your child to remember the pattern to challenge their memory.
  • Count the number of fish each player has collected.

Social skills

  • If taking turns to collect the fish, prompt your child to find a fair way to decide who goes first. Playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’ can be a useful way to prevent arguing. Practice turn taking skills and if your child requires the support, give verbal prompts such as ‘who is next?’, ‘your turn, my turn’.
  • If playing the game competitively, focus on developing your child’s winning and losing skills. Often when children become fixated on winning, they can have difficulty regulating their emotions if they lose. It’s often helpful to role model good winning and losing behaviour. Also emphasize at the start of the game that it is more important to have fun and play fairly than to win. Reinforcing the importance of saying ‘good game’ or ‘thanks for playing’ can assist with peer-to-peer interactions and ability to make friends.

Emotional regulation skills

  • Let’s Go Fishing can be quite a challenging game to play, especially for beginners. This can be a good chance to have your child practice identifying when they are starting to get frustrated. Help them identify and use strategies (such as taking deep breaths or using a movement break) to calm down before refocusing back on the task. Also emphasize the importance of practicing so we can get better.

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