We have this sweet wooden magnetic fishing game that I got for Princess Pea a year or so ago at Tchibo (again, my favourite store!). Lately, Sweet Pea has taken an interest in it, so we've been fishing. In addition to the 'sea', the fish, and the fishing rods that came with the game, we've also added an empty tissue box (you could fancy it up to look like a fishtank if you like; and see here for another use for old tissue boxes). At 12 months, Sweet Pea's version of fishing is to just transfer the fish from the sea to the tissue box and back again, either by hand or with the rods. It amuses her for ages!
For Princess Pea (this is an old picture, she's now nearly 4), we tried playing it a different way. We put half of the fish in one container and half in another. Each container was a 'fishtank' for a player. We set a timer for 1 minute and each player had to try to transfer as many fish as possible out of their own tanks and into the other person's. The winner, of course, was the person with fewer fish in their tank when the timer went off. It was good fun, and quite educational; in addition to the small and gross motor skills involved in catching and transferring the fish (which she found quite challenging), at the end she had to count out how many fish we each had and decide which number was 'fewer'.
I could see using this as a fun math game with older kids (maybe 5-7 year olds), and the competition aspect would appeal to that age group. Our fish actually have numbers on the back to represent points, all multiples of 10 ranging from 20-150 or so. Different fish are considered a different valued 'catch', which would be good for that age too, practicing adding and counting by 10s. You could play the regular way (catching fish and adding up the points) or the timer version above, and use the points on the fish to determine the winner.
If you don't have a magnetic fishing game, it would be easy to make one! There are some suggestions for lovely homemade versions here, and a simpler version here, but you could probably think of even easier ways if you wanted to.
This post is linked up at Childhood 101, ABC&123, Tot Tuesdays, Teach Preschool's Every Day Math Play - check out the links on the right side over there for more activity ideas.