Online Game Review: The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That!

Overview:
Game: The Cat in the Hat knows a Lot about That! (hosted by PBSkids.org).

CAT

Location: http://pbskids.org/catinthehat/

Cost: Free

Intended ages: Ages 4 to 6

The beloved story book character created by Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat, teaches kids about science, nature, math, and the world around them through short computer games. Below are some examples of the games provided by the website.

Example One: Clatter-Clang Island
Throughout this game kids learn about how the human ear works while collecting pieces of a broken ear statue. They use the keyboard’s right and left arrow keys as well as the spacebar to collect points and sounds until they reach a locked sound door. Kids then have to find the sound that belongs to the image on the locked door (i.e. hammer, car, etc.). After collecting all six pieces of the ear, kids then get to help The Cat in the Hat put the statue back to together again.

Example Two: Gravity-A-Boing-Boing
Throughout this game kids learn about gravity and how it changes depending on a planet’s size.  Kids play a game similar to Pong by moving a trampoline (with the computer mouse) held by Thing 1 and Thing 2 to see how high The Cat in the Hat and his friends will bounce on each planet. Kids collect points by bouncing them into floating point bubbles.

Example Three: Leafylafoo Roundup
In this game kids draw a leaf with the computer mouse or pick one that has already been created for them. Then The Cat in the Hat plants a tree, which grows and sprouts the leaf chosen/designed by the kids. They can then choose between the game, Catch and Sort, or playing with Leaf Art. In the first game a wind storm shakes all the leaves from the trees and the kids have to organize then by size, shape, and color into a number of baskets. In the second game, kids can color pictures choosing from a variety of different backgrounds.

Critique:
The Cat in the Hat knows a Lot about That! is appropriate for preschool age children and with some initial guidance from parents on how to navigate the website, it appears to be easy to use. For example, navigation words (i.e. Games, Print, Video, Skip, etc.) are said out loud when the mouse hoovers over them. The games are often repetitive, but engage critical thinking skills by making levels more difficult as children progress though each game.

The site also offers five games in Spanish and are intended for children who know or understand the language. They were not created with the purpose of teaching children Spanish.

Although items are available for purchase on the site, they are located under the Parent and Shop tabs. Commercial interest and ads are not present.

Critical Review:
“Science class has never been as much fun for kids as it is with the Cat in the Hat leading the charge — he makes it a joy to learn. With his guidance, kids are introduced to concepts like migration, animal classification, and nocturnal behavior, and the characters approach the discovery process with enthusiasm as they piece together clues that will lead them to the answers to their questions” (Emily Ashby at Commonsensemedia.org).

– Angela Bailey

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