Summer Activities for Autism: Fishing in the sink

This activity involves using a ladle to fish colored pom-poms out of a sink.


Besides fine motor improvement, this game is also a great speech development booster because it uses vision, fine motor, touch and posture skills simultaneously, which are all part of speech development [1].

Using a heavy metal ladle will lead to improved fine-motor skills, eye-hand coordination and wrist control.

If using a ladle is too easy, use a small spoon. As well as being more challenging, direct contact with the cold water will heighten the sensations and awareness, which helps their brain to build new processing connections.

This is a great activity to help your child cool down indoors on a hot day and it is extremely easy to set up. Plus, if your child loves it, then we offer a few variations below to prolong the fun.

You will need:

  • A sink or basin that can be filled with water
  • Colorful pom-poms
  • A ladle, spoon, or utensil that can be used to scoop up pom-poms

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Setting up the activity:

Fill the sink with cold water.
Drop the pom-poms in the water.

What to do:

Give your child the ladle and show them how to fish the pom-poms out of the water. Help them to repeat this until all the pom-poms are out of the water.

Additional Ideas:

Try one of the following variations to extend the fun of this game:

  • Drop large marbles in the sink and have your child fish them out with one hand and then the other hand [2].
  • Again using the marbles, try to fish them out using a tablespoon. Make sure that the water is deep enough so that the child’s hand will go into the water when using the spoon to reach the marbles at the bottom of the sink.
  • Take this game outdoors and fill a bucket with cold water instead of using the kitchen sink.


1. Gernsbacher MA, Sauer EA, Geye HM, Schweigert EK, Hill Goldsmith H. Infant and toddler oral- and manual-motor skills predict later speech fluency in autism. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008;49: 43–50.
2. Corbetta D, Thelen E. The development origins of bimanual coordination: A dynamic perspective [Internet]. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 1996. pp. 502–522. doi:10.1037//0096-1523.22.2.502

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