Soggy Fish Toss and other simple pleasures

I've been in throwback heaven the past two days, teaching catch and release fish-themed family club sessions. This fishy flashback was educational, with fun information for parents as well as kids. That's always a trick, as any Hollywood exec will tell you.

At the end of the short presentation we sat in a circle and the kids told me their "fish stories". A couple were of the how-big-was-it-really variety, but most were of the we-used-to-have-four-fish-but-now-we-have-two sort. I heard about bettas and Siamese fighting fish, fish as big as refrigerators, and fish eaten by dinosaurs. Yes, we have no piranhas. We have no piranhas today.

To prepare for the session, I needed fish, real live fish, from the creek. This was not an elegant, graceful operation, but I didn't get eaten alive by chiggers. Amen. And I did not fall in. Amen, Lord! I netted over a dozen tiny fish and a whole lot of sediment.  If they took nothing else away, I hope kids learned that the smart, big fish swim too far out for old ladies to catch with a net!

The kids learning to read were hilarious as they sounded out the names of Texas game fish. One little fellow caught a "Ready Are". That would be a redear sunfish. We were using fishing poles with magnets to catch fish in an imagination river made from my friend Kokila's beautiful blue sari fabric. Magnet fishing was a favorite feature of birthday parties in the Sixties. You should not practice fly casting while magnet fishing. You could really hit somebody in the head. On the good side, you will not have to go to the emergency room with a fish hook caught in your earlobe!

Today's paper fish were images from Texas Parks and Wildlife, laminated, and with a paperclip attached. For added realism, we measured our catches with a ruler before throwing them back in the river. We didn't step into the sari "river" since we were not wearing life jackets. Safety first!

A sub-theme of this lesson was patterns/templates. If you want to make a set of tangram shapes, there is a template, and there are several ways to use the seven shapes to form a fish.

The whole session was inspired by the pattern of that Sixties birthday party, right down to the fish cake courtesy of Baker's Coconut. Memories of my mom, Fritzi, and her creative preparations for low budget birthday parties made me smile. Remembering how my dad, Howie, got all teary-eyed during those Take Me Fishing tv spots made  me wish I could time travel back to when his dad took him fishing in Willow Creek.

But what about the Soggy Fish Toss, you ask! Soggy Fish Toss is a totally free-form activity everybody loves on a warm day. All you need are a couple tubs of water, some hula hoops, and some cleaning sponges cut into fish shapes. The hula hoops on the ground can be the tees or the greens in this game, or both. Tossing fish is fun. Squeezing fish sponges is good for motor skills, but mostly fun. Hitting your daddy with a soggy fish sponge is terrific fun for every generation.

On a different throwback note, I read this book review Saturday. Good thing I was not drinking a carbonated beverage, as it would have shot out my nose.

© 2013-2015 Nancy L. Ruder

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