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The Cat in the Hat Builds That

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
The Cat in the Hat Builds That App Poster Image
Upbeat feline offers fun STEM exploration on- and offscreen.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn and experiment with a handful of basic STEM concepts, including identifying and organizing, measuring and matching, and changing momentum and surface tension (concepts in physics). Free play with these machines allows extra room for experimentation.  

Ease of Play

Audio and visual guides clearly show kids what to do, but sometimes games or navigation is a bit tricky.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A small icon button on the home screen takes kids to ads for other apps from the same developer. Users must tap on the ads and pass through a parent gate to access purchasing or download options. The Cat in the Hat is also a brand with many associated products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cat in the Hat Builds That is a companion app to the PBS KIDS STEM-based TV series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. The app includes three games that touch on science and engineering learning for preschoolers. Kids practice concepts of measurement, sorting, momentum, and surface friction by building a bridge, playing on slides, and sorting items. The games get more difficult as kids progress through different levels of the games. Though the narrator gives clear instructions and an animated hand helps show kids where they need to tap, some games are a bit tricky. Parents may want to play with their kids at first to help them discover everything they can do with the games. Tap on the book in the tree house to find offscreen STEM extensions and activities to do with your kids. In the settings menu, parents can set the app to English or Spanish. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Kids start THE CAT IN THE HAT BUILDS THAT in a tree house where they can choose from three games. Sort items by color and shape with the Sorta-ma-gogo. Adjust the height of a slide and pour different substances on it (e.g., sand, butter) to slide down faster or slower with the Slidea-ma-zoo. And build bridges with differently sized pieces in Bridge-a-rama. Complete a certain number of levels to unlock a similar free play game -- e.g., experiment with building bridges -- in the tree house. Gameplay is rewarded with stars and decorative items for the tree house. There's also a free draw area where kids design and test ideas over templates of the game's machines, and ideas for offscreen play.

Is it any good?

Fun games gently introduce some foundational science and engineering skills and let kids explore. Well-loved characters guide kids as they sort, build bridges, and adjust slides. Though the graphical feel is true to Dr. Seuss' whimsical style, the audio sometimes feels canned, with awkward pauses between some words. The games get more challenging as kids keep playing, which allows kids to stay on their toes. And the free-play games that open after kids pass a few levels let kids play however they want. There's lots of help and explicit instructions for navigation and gameplay. But the app's organization is a bit unclear, which may or may not affect kids' play experience. Some aspects of the games are mundane, while others are creative, unique features. For example, many preschool apps offer a sorting game, but not many allow kids to change the height of a slide and put different substances on it to experiment with momentum and surface friction. It's also nice that there are often multiple solutions to each challenge, and kids are encouraged to try multiple times to see what happens. To that end, The Cat in the Hat Builds That does offer something unique to the crowded field of preschool apps.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about STEM concepts in The Cat in the Hat Builds That. Encourage kids to verbalize as they experiment. How long are those bridge pieces? What happens when you make the slide taller or put sand on it?

  • Give kids opportunities to experiment offscreen. Build bridges, towers, slides, and more with blocks, boxes, or whatever you can get your hands on. Explore the suggestions in the app's tree house for new ideas.

  • Talk to your kids about branding. Are they more interested in these games because of The Cat in the Hat? Why or why not?

App details

Themes & Topics

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