Pond Dipping with Pre School Children

Posted on July 8th, 2016

Country Kids from Coombe Mill


The summer weather has brought out so much wildlife on the Coombe Mill lakes and river I was keen to run an activity hour session introducing a little pond dipping and river life into our play. Glorious sunshine in May and early June had given way to rain this week, thankfully it dried up in time for our activities but any study of the river was out of the question as it was racing through Coombe Mill at close to flood levels.

Very High River at Coombe Bridge, Cornwall

Undeterred I had a plan of activities using the more tranquil lake and a DIY safe pond whilst talking through river safety.

Pond Dipping and Water Life Study for Pre School Children

We began with a sweet little storybook about a fish and his friends.

Reading a story about fish in the sea

Nature Fishing

From here we set off on a scavenger hunt for bracken, sticks and sticky weed to play nature fishing. This is something I did a couple of years ago and knew it would be perfect for toddlers.

Collecting Sticks and Sticky Weed

Our story rug was transformed into a pond with bracken fish. Sticks became fishing rods with stick weed as the line. It is such a simple activity but perfect for preschool age as it encourages creativity, imagination and counting.

Fern Fishing Game in Activity Hour at Coombe Mill

Pond Dipping


When every fish had been caught we put together our pond scopes. These were simply made with plastic bottles, cling film and loom bands. With these, some identification sheets of things to look out for and a fishing net each we set off over the river towards the lake. Crossing the footbridge everyone took a look at the raging river, but this was as close as we dared go.

Making Pondoscopes and walking to the Coombe Mill Lake

Our two lakes are a fair size and ideal for serious fishing. However Nick built a launching pad for HMS bath tub last year and this was a perfect spot on the slipway for our pond dipping. We could see boatmen and pond skaters zipping across the surface and the nets gave the children a chance to trawl a little deeper.

Fishing with nets in the lake


I had prepared a little micro pond for our pond scopes to avoid anyone peering into the lake and toppling in. Felix had helped me in advance to fill a paddling pool with buckets of lake water, then launched me off in HMS bath tub to trawl deeper in the lake. I knew we had some water mini beasts for the children to find in our micro pond.

Pondoscape and Lake fishing


The excitement of turning stories and play fishing into real pond dipping and finding waterlife was palpable. I was thrilled with how well the pond scopes worked and when the children found something in their nets they took it over to the micro pond for a closer look under their pond scopes.

Pond Life Craft

Once everyone had found something on their pond dipping sheets we headed back towards the games room. My final activity was painting trout. We have fresh water trout in our top lake where we were pond dipping as well as in the river. On a calmer day we could have watched the trout swim through under Coombe bridge. I had pre-cut the trout shapes and stuck them to paper plates. The children then painted on the river or pond and pulled away the cut out fish to reveal their trout.

Painting Trout for activity hour kids crafts


It was a very busy afternoon for the children with so many activities, but they never once looked like they were flagging.



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall