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Cinematters - The Cat in the Hat


By Kelly Parthen and Shannon Payette Seip

Frisky feline pounces over line between fun and frenzy

Your children convince you they're responsible enough to stay home alone while you run some errands. But when you return, you find the dog has a mohawk, your toddler has been transformed into a human peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and it looks like graffiti artists attacked your hallway. Needless to say, you ground your children for life.

The film The Cat in the Hat can help your kids understand why balancing good sense with good times makes playtime more fun for everyone. Then play our game "Balancing Act" to bring the lesson to life.

Adapted from the popular Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat features little law-abiding Sally and unruly Conrad Walden (Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin), who are left with a sleepy babysitter while their mother is at work. Mrs. Walden (Kelly Preston) orders the children not to mess up the house, as she is hosting a company party that evening. Her hyper-hygienic boss has threatened he will fire her if the house is dirty.

When a mischievous cat (Mike Myers) appears at the Walden house promising endless fun with no consequences, it's a deal the kids can't pass up. But the fun soon spins out of control. The once tidy house is now splattered with grape goo, the walls are melted, and the floors are a foamy pink lagoon. Sally and Conrad discover that a wild and crazy time with Cat isn't so purr-fect if everything ends in disaster.

Family Activity: Balancing Act
Play Balancing Act to help your family learn to balance boundaries and having a blast.

Share! Start off by talking about how Sally and Conrad each measured up on the Phunometer. Which character does each of you relate to more?

Take turns sharing how you think you'd stack up on a fun scale. Are you unable to let loose? Do you get too carried away? Or do you have the right amount of fun?
Look back at Sally and Conrad's adventures with Cat. Why did things get so out of control? What could Sally and Conrad have done to prevent the house from being destroyed?

Ask your kids to share some of the times they were too caught up in having fun to think about the consequences. Maybe they stretched the rules too far in touch football and hurt someone. Perhaps using Mom's jewelry as fishing tackle wasn't the best idea. How could they have better balanced good judgment and good times? Make sure to share your childhood experiences, too.

Materials needed:
Flat cookie
Large marshmallows
Cake sprinkles
Wooden or metal skewer

Create these colorful hats to show how constructive fun stacks up against uncontrolled chaos.

Start by pretending you're home alone. Take turns imagining what kinds of fun and wacky things you'd do if no one could stop you--from watching the hamster ride the ceiling fan to roller skating on the dining table.

Place a cookie on a table. As each player shares a wild idea, stack one marshmallow on top of the cookie. Take turns stacking marshmallow upon marshmallow. See how high you can get until the hat tumbles.

Next, frost the rounded sides of 8 to 12 marshmallows. Don't frost the tops or bottoms. Roll the marshmallows in sprinkles. Set aside.

Pretend again you're home alone, but this time imagine ways to have fun while using good sense. The first player must add a glob of frosting to the bottom of one marshmallow and "glue" it to the center of a cookie. Stick a skewer through the marshmallow and cookie.

As each player shares a good sense idea, frost the bottom of each marshmallow before sticking it on the skewer and adding it to the hat. Take turns until the hat comes crashing down.

As the hat with the frosting glue stacks higher than the one without, explain to your kids how playtime likewise amounts to more fun when you stick to your senses. Your children will discover, just like Sally and Conrad, that playing responsibly can help avoid "cat"-astrophe.

E-mail your comments or ideas to [email protected].

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