The Cat in the Hat board game challenges kids to clean up the chaos caused by the mischievous cat using their developing language skills. Parents or teachers can play along with kids, helping them with the letter recognition necessary to play. The rules are easy to follow, the cards are colorful and the game moves quickly enough to keep a child's attention.
Setting Up the Board
Before playing the game, distribute the picture cards, placing one on each square of the board. The color of the card must match the color of the square. Assemble the spinner and place it within easy reach of the board. Put the four playing pieces together by inserting each cardboard piece into a stand, then give a playing piece to each player. Each player puts her piece on the player square closest to her seat.
Starting the Game
Beginning with the youngest player, each player spins the spinner and moves his piece the number of squares indicated, beginning at the Start square. When he ends his move, he takes the picture card from the final square and places it on his player square. Play passes to the left; by the end of the first turn, each player should have a piece on a board and a picture card on her player square.
Collecting Picture Cards
Once the first round is complete, play continues. Each player spins the spinner, moving the number of squares it shows. Once he lands on a picture card, he checks to see if it matches the card on his player square. A card matches if it is the same color or if the word on it shares a letter with the card on the player square. If the card matches, the player collects it and places it on top of the original card on the player square. This now becomes the card the player must match to collect new ones. Play continues until all the players have reached the Finish square. Once this happens, players count up their picture cards; the player with the most cards on her player square wins.
The Role of Parents
The Cat in the Hat board game is designed for both parents and children. Parents can help kids understand whether a picture card matches, guiding early readers through recognizing the letters in each word. They can also help with counting during the scoring phase. The rules sheet explains the rule in detail for the benefit of kids; the adult summary of the rules is only a few sentences long.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.