A Beginner’s Guide to Pond Dipping with Kids

by Josée

At first glance, a pond might seem small and insignificant, but below its still surface there is a magical world waiting to be discovered. Pond dipping is a fun must-do nature adventure for kids. The great thing is that it’s so easy to do. All your child needs is a pond and a net (or a couple buckets). Dip the net into a pond and the fun has begun!

Want more tips on raising outdoor kids? Join the Backwoods Mama Newsletter!

How To Go Pond Dipping

The best time of the year to go pond dipping with your child is from May to August. That’s when ponds are at their peak activity. Of course, there is no bad time to go pond dipping. There is still plenty to see in the early spring and fall too. My suggestion is to go pond dipping a few times from late spring to early fall and see how ponds change from week-to-week and month-to-month.

Step 1: Gather your gear.

You only need two tools to go pond dipping: a pond tray (bucket or container) and a net.

You can find the best variety of quality pond nets at your local pond shop. I encourage you to shop local if you can. You can also buy pond nets online, like this net. It’s fun to have a variety of net, big and small. Small nets work best for little hands and bigger kids like to try bigger nets. Make sure to choose a net that has very small holes so pond critter can’t swim through. Bug nets won’t work as pond nets. The holes are too big!

Don’t have a net? No problem. Just bring two buckets or containers along instead. White or clear buckets work best.

Pond dipping gear:

  • A pond net
  • A pond tray (a white or clear bucket or containers)
  • A magnifying glass (optional)
  • Spoons, pipettes, ice cube tray and/or turkey basters (optional)
  • Identification sheet or book (really helpful – see free printable below)

Step 2: Find a pond.

A pond is small, still and shallow body of water that can be made by people or by nature. Look for a pond that is easy to access and that kids can easily dip nets into without falling in. When you have found a pond find a spot near the edge to set up all your gear.

Step 3: Fill a tray with pond water.

Take your pond tray (pail or container) and fill it with pond water. This is where your child will bring their pond critters when they catch them.

Step 4: Dip the net into the pond.

Time to start pond dipping! The best way to catch critters is to swish your net in a circle or in the shape of the number eight (8), called a figure eight. Pond minibeast are fast! If you’re having trouble finding critters, try swishing your net quickly near plants on the edge of the pond.

Step 5: Turn out the net into your pond tray.

Carefully scoop the net out of the pond and place it in the pond tray (bucket or container) that you filled with pond water. Gently turn the net inside out into the tray and let the water settle.

Step 6: Observe your pond minibeasts!

Look carefully into the pond tray to see what pond minibeasts you caught. Pond minibeasts can be very small. If you have a magnifying glass now is the time to use it.

Pond Minibeasts

A pond is home to many creatures, big and small. Birds like ponds and so do tiny littler critters that live under the water. I like to call these critters pond minibeasts.

Pond minibeasts include critters that have bones inside of their bodies (vertebrates) like frogs, tadpoles and newts AND critters that have no bones inside of this bodies (invertebrates) like mosquito larva, leeches, dragonfly nymphs, and diving beetles.

There’s a whole zoo of weird and wonderful minibeast that live in ponds.

Identify your pond minibeast by using the POND MINIBEASTS IDENTIFICATION sheets.

**These journal pages are excerpts from my recently released My Spring Nature Journal, a 161 pages nature journal for kids between the ages of 8 and 12. You can learn more about My Spring Nature Journal HERE or get it HERE. Scroll to the end of this post for a coupon code!

Step 7: Don’t Forget to Return Pond Minibeasts Back to their Home.

Before leaving don’t forget to return pond minibeast back into the pond. They won’t live for very long if they are stuck in a tray or bucket.

A Few Pond Dipping Safety Notes:

For kids that are very young or do not know how to swim, be very aware of potential drowning risks near ponds. To prevent young children from falling into the water encourage them to pond dip on their knees or laying on their bellies.

Ponds are teaming with all sorts of critters, some that we can’t even see. Some ponds have bad bacteria in them that can make us sick. Don’t drink pond water and be sure that kids wash theirs hands after pond dipping adventures, especially before they eat.

Also, make sure to clean nets and buckets before exploring a different pond. You can clean nets and bucket with water and let them throughout air dry. Or, if you are planning to visit another pond in the same day, clean your nets and buckets with a mild bleach solution. This will prevent cross-contamination of bacteria, protozoa and other tiny critters between ponds.

Great Book about Ponds for Kids

Want more tips on raising outdoor kids? Join the Backwoods Mama Newsletter!

Get the Spring Nature Adventure Journal!

Join our Raising Outdoor Kids Facebook Group!

Disclaimer: This page contains Amazon Affiliates links and I may earn a small commission from your purchases made through them. 

Related Articles

1 comment

may thuy binh December 16, 2020 - 10:01 pm

2 stars
I am not real great with English but I find this very easy
to read.

Reply

Leave a Comment