Leonardo’s Cat by StoryToys Entertainment Limited is a magical journey that promotes sequencing, prioritizing, and then testing a hypothesis of what may happen next in order to achieve a goal. These are important life skills and are some of the building blocks to facilitating independent thinkers and problem solvers. The execution of the game is about as perfect as it gets, and it is loads of fun for all ages – meaning you will have to surrender the iPad to the kid that you bought this game for in the first place. Game play centers on using the inventions and dreams of Leonardo da Vinci to collect all the pieces to his beloved Automaton that Michelangelo has stolen away. To collect the pieces, Leonardo sends his cat, Scungilli, about the city. Scungilli makes use of Leonardo’s inventions and other imaginings of the renaissance era to navigate and avoid obstacles or roadblocks. The game
comes to life through the awe-inspiring narration of Patrick Stewart, and the beautifully rendered illustrations gently urge kids to explore. To find out more about the making of this app, and to view a trailer, visit leonardoscat.com. The app is divided into 6 chapters, and there are 60 sequenced brainteasers in all. At the end of each chapter kids are awarded with seeing found parts of the Automaton restored.
The app opens to Leonardo and his cat in the workshop. The mood and background to the story is presented, and then you are sent on your way to help Scungilli find the missing pieces to the Automaton. There are quite a few perils and obstacles to overcome, and an increasing arsenal of tools is available to use as you gain competency. I love that each segment is short enough to allow for breaks to reorganize and process the information that you’ve just learned. Demands are few at first and build in complexity with each level. At varying points, kids need to make a decision on how to proceed; i.e. the upward or lower path, and what is the best tool to overcome a particular obstacle. When having made a wrong choice – its curtains for the cat, and you then need to go back and determine what may have been a better choice. It’s a brilliant way to help kids learn to self-regulate and deal with the consequences of their actions, and an ideal way to model how to do so. In the end, part of the motivation to continue is brought on by wanting to save Scungilli from potential harm. Kids need to evaluate how each tool functions, program its trajectory and decide which path to follow. Tip: At times it is easier to start from the end using a backward chaining model so that you can overview what may be needed or what areas you can skip placing a contraption. Not all spaces need a device, and that is hard to initially realize. Once a sequence is postulated, Scungilli is as poised and determined as a gymnast ready to do a tumbling run. All one needs to do is hit the go arrow and see if it works.
Being able to present this game and share it with kids has a privilege, and seeing that spark of wonder and self-esteem when they figure out a level is something that every parent, teacher, or therapist yearns to see. It never gets old, and is what keeps many of us at our jobs – that passion for learning and the passing on of skills to the next generation so that they can become all that they can. The life lessons as well as the information of life in the Renaissance in this game are just pure genius, and that is what makes it a TWA Top Pick. Simply put, Leonardo’s Cat is a masterpiece – after all it is a da Vinci!
Two hours non-stop!
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of Sepa, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.