Wyatt is a boy who needs to move a lot. I suppose all four-year-olds are like that, but sometimes I think my son is like a shark — if he stops moving, he’ll die. He is constantly climbing on the furniture, running in circles through the bedrooms, spinning in circles in the kitchen and jumping, jumping, jumping! With a new baby in the house and the change from daylight savings to standard time, we’ve been having a hard time getting outside on a regular basis to let him run off all that energy. Weeknights can be especially hard because it’s too dark to play outside after preschool and I need to keep Wyatt happy and occupied while I make dinner. What’s a Mom to do?
A few weeks ago the folks at I Can Do That! Games very kindly sent me a copy of their Cat in the Hat – I Can Do That! game for Wyatt and me to review. We’ve found that this game satisfies his need to move, while simultaneously containing and channeling it into a mom-approved activity.
Wyatt was so excited when I opened the box to show him what was inside. He immediately started to rummage through the box and showed me all the pieces of the game. “Look Mom — a ball! And a fish! And a dress! You should hold that because that’s for girls to wear and you’re a girl! And a boat! Can I take that in the tub tonight? I’m going to read this book. Ha ha ha!” While he was inspecting each piece, I started chopping a pepper for the paella I was making for our dinner.
After he was done looking at it all, I grabbed the instruction card to take a look at what we needed to do to play. The first step was to assemble the “trick-a-ma-stick” (the yellow thing in the picture here. I put it together and while Wyatt crawled around under it and around it, I peeled the shrimp for the paella.
When the novelty of the trick-a-ma-stick wore off a bit, I read the instructions for the game. The premise is simple — you choose a red card (action), a blue card (object) and a yellow card (silliness) and read off the sentence they form. For example, you might get “Take four big steps with the toy man on top of your head” or “Crawl under the trick-a-ma-stick with the book inside your clothes.” If you think you can do it, you say so and go ahead and do it. If you don’t think you can do it, you can put any of your three cards back and draw another until you find something that will work for you.
We’ve had very little success playing games with Wyatt so far because he gets bored when other people take their turns and irritated when we won’t let him take every turn. He also despises the random set-backs that seem to be a part of all games targeted at preschoolers. Drawing the gingerbread man in Candyland, dumping your bucket in Hi Ho Cherry-o! or — God forbid — landing on a chute in Chutes and Ladders can all set off a massive tantrum born of frustration. Yeah — that’s a super fun way to spend an afternoon. We’ve kept trying, but games always end with screaming involved somehow. What I like about the Cat in the Hat game is that it sets him up for success. It’s all about things that kids can do. And to take it a step further, it’s also fun that there are a lot of things that kids can do that grown-ups can’t. For example, I’ve got a bum knee and my booty is too big to go through the trick-a-ma-stick so crawling is right out for me, but Wyatt can do it with no problem. Fun!
We played a very casual game while I finished making dinner, giggling all the while. When Daddy came home from work, he joined in for a few rounds too. Wyatt happily took turns through the whole game. I think it’s pretty fun to see your mom skipping around the kitchen with a ball tucked under her chin so you don’t mind letting her play the game too. Super bonus points that our game didn’t end in tears or a tantrum!
One teeny little complaint though — the trick-a-ma-stick falls down a lot. Frustrating when you’re trying to saute rice. All things considered though, that’s a pretty small issue. I give The Cat in the Hat – I Can Do That! a big thumbs up.
I Can Do That Games also sent us a copy of Horton Hears a Who! – You to the Rescue! We will be donating that to Toys for Tots. (Much to Wyatt’s dismay….)