Mousetrap and Monopoly

One kindergarten group I monitor can’t wait to play this game at indoor recess. I would occasionally glance at the four boys, across the room,who loved the game the most and set it up quickly. I could not do that decades ago.

The Mousetrap game sat, half built, on a table in the finished basement where I grew up in 1963. I don’t remember my Mother or Father having much to do with setting up parts, but for some reason, it was difficult for me. The game was one of the first mass-produced, three-dimensional board games from Ideal. Over the course of the game, players cooperate to build a complicated working Rube Goldberg–like mouse trap. Once the mouse trap has been built, players turn against each other, attempting to trap opponents’ mouse-shaped game pieces. The game was re-designed in 1975.

Each player travels along a non-continuous, roughly square-shaped path around the game board from the start to a loop at the end. The trap begins with a crank which turns a set of gears. This begins a series of stages which ends in a cage being lowered over the “cheese wheel” space on the board.

So one day, I sat down with the four boys in the class and explained my problem growing up with the original version of the game. They took me, step by step, on how to set it up and it wasn’t that bad after all. Obviously, this version has been constantly improved or I am more patient/confident than I was when I was a child. But it was equally exciting when that nasty mouse was caught.

A week ago it was actually Game Day in the school and students were to bring in a special game to play at a designated time.  A kindergarten student brought in Monopoly……..Monopoly for a five year old?????

I think that I was probably at least ten years old when I played the original Monopoly established in 1935. In the game, players roll two six-sided dice to move around the game board, buying and trading properties, and developing them with houses and hotels. Players collect rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them into bankruptcy. A player is sent to jail for doing any of the following: Landing directly on “Go to Jail” or drawing a “Go to Jail” card from Chance or Community Chest. Playing time could run from one hour to four depending on the players and level of skill. I never tired of Monopoly but in the early 1990’s my own children did not have the patience and I don’t remember them setting up Mousetrap though my son did set up a real one.

Today, there are many children’s (junior) Monopoly editions that include a princess game, Disney Theme park landscape, The Lion King, Pokemon and several others. Generally, the games are recommended for ages 8 and older. One of the Disney edition games was brought in by a kindergarten student. The children where more interested in the game pieces and go to jail board section. Buying property and setting up hotels in the land of Aladdin just did not make sense to them. It was a new game that the student’s family had not even opened at home, until we did in class. We just did not have enough time to explain and understand the complexity. The student was disappointed as we packed up the pieces carefully.

“What about Mousetrap?” I suggested, to cheer her up. But then I saw a group playing every kindergarten girls favorite, classic, board game of all time ( even some of the boys like it); CANDY LAND! Oh, my….. how me and my children loved Lollipop Woods, Gum Drop Mountain………………Quickly forgetting about Monopoly, she hurried over to join her classmates at that game.  Can I play too?

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