Car Game: The President’s Cat

The President’s Cat is a word and memory game that while it can be played in a car, can actually be played anywhere. It requires no special equipment and no preparation, and can be played at a moment’s notice. Yet, it’s a great way to increase your child’s working memory, alphabet and vocabulary skills. So how is it played? It starts with someone saying The President’s cat is an … and then naming a characteristic beginning with the letter A before ending the phrase with the word Cat (e.g. The President’s cat is an angry cat. The next person repeats the same phrase and characteristic and adds a new one beginning with the letter B. The game then continues, with an ever-growing list of characteristics until someone either cannot think of a new characteristic beginning with the required letter or forgets a previously listed characteristic. It might not sound like much, but it’s an incredible fun and addictive game, especially when you encourage your children to make the characteristics they select as weird, amusing and, indeed, un-cat like as possible.

The President's Cat

Playing The President’s Cat involves thinking up amusing descriptive characteristics of a fictitious cat and repeating them in alphabetical order from memory (image from Zombies Love Brains by Colin M. Drysdale and copyright Mike Kloran).

How Long Does It Take To Play? There is no set time-limit to this game, but typically it will last between three and five minutes, depending on the age of the children you are playing it with.

Ages: Five and older. This game can be played as soon as your child has developed a knowledge of the alphabet.

Core Life Skills It Will Help Develop: Academic Skill – Knowledge of the alphabet; vocabulary; Critical Thinking Skills – Working memory (which is crucial for rational decision-making and self-control).

What Do You Need To Play It? This game requires nothing to play.

Preparation: No preparation is required for this game.

How Do You Play It? One person starts by saying the phrase The President’s Cat is an  … and then adding a characteristic beginning with the letter followed by the word cat (e.g. The President’s cat is an angry cat). The next player repeats this phrase, but adds a characteristic beginning with the letter B (e.g. The President’s cat is an angry blue cat). This is then repeated with an ever-increasing list of characteristics each beginning with successive letters of the alphabet. Make sure you take your turn in the game, as this will help your child learn descriptive words they’re not already familiar with, so expanding their vocabulary, and encourage your child to make the characteristics they choose as weird and wacky as possible. The game ends when one of the players cannot come up with a descriptive word starting with the required letter, or forgets a previous characteristic the cat has been given. It’s a really simple game, but you’ll be surprised at how addictive and competitive it can become.

Variations: There are many possible variations of this game. The first is to add a ‘no hesitation’ rule. In this variation, the players are not allowed to hesitate when repeating the list of previous characteristics or before adding their own. This is a good variation for older children. You can also play this game with non-alphabetical lists of characteristics, making it harder to remember them. Finally, you can use other animals or other forms of lists as the basis for this type of game. For example, you can play I went to the shops and I bought …, In my car is a …, I went to the zoo and I saw a …, and many other possibilities. In fact, the only limit to the variations of this game you can play is your imagination.

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About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.

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