NJEA’s Cat in the Hat is portrayed by retired teachers who don a professional costume which stands seven feet tall. There are many rules we must follow when the Cat appears. The most restrictive is that the Cat does not speak, so the Cat cannot read a story to students. However, the Cat comes to life in many other ways. The Cat is known to hug, “high-five,” wave to, and even dance with children (and adults.) As former teachers, our actors are sensitive to children’s reactions to the Cat, especially pre-K and kindergarten students who may be afraid of the large creature at first.
You can help them by observing the following additional rules when hosting a visit from the Cat in the Hat:
- We encourage you to plan an assembly where the Cat can “appear” as part of your Read Across- New Jersey celebration. School-wide assemblies may include older students, but we do not recommend including grades 4 and up.
- Be sure your students understand that the Cat’s visit is related to Read Across-New Jersey and the value of reading. For example, arrange a story time during the Cat’s visit, either in an assembly program or in the media center. (Reading The Cat in the Hat works well, with the “real” Cat making his entrance on cue in the story.) Since the Cat may visit your school as early as February, make plans to use the appearance to “kick off” your literacy celebration.
- The Cat will be scheduled to arrive at your school 15 minutes prior to the assigned visit time. Be sure there is someone in the school office who knows the Cat is coming and can show the actor to a private room where he/she can change into the costume. The room should be a faculty room, empty office, or classroom. PLEASE DO NOT ASK THE ACTOR TO CHANGE IN A RESTROOM.
- The Cat must be escorted by a school staff member always while in costume. This will ensure the Cat’s safety and the safety of children, as both visibility and mobility within the costume are difficult. The escort must guide the Cat under doorways, up or down steps, and around lighting fixtures, exit signs, and other low-hanging objects.
- For health and safety reasons, the actor cannot remain in the costume for more than 15 minutes, particularly in a warm school building. Be sure to plan where the Cat will go to visit with children to avoid unnecessary backtracking.
- Classroom visits with the Cat will only be scheduled in certain circumstances, (for example, for students with learning disabilities.)
- Never allow children to swarm around the Cat or to tug on any part of the costume. This could cause the actor to lose her/his balance. Arrange for children to be seated in the room(s) where the Cat will visit prior to the Cat’s appearance. Allow the cat to move toward the students to greet them.