Local mom’s game earns national recognition

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 10, 2011

 Kate Patterson holds her award-winning game.

Kate Patterson holds her award-winning game.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

GROSSE POINTE PARK — A local mother wanted to create a game that children of all ages could enjoy with little fuss for parents and a whole lot of fun for anyone who wants to play.

After Kate Patterson saw the enthusiasm her girls and their friends put into a game of scavenger hunt during her daughter’s birthday party, she focused her attention on creating a game they could play at home or on the go.

Her efforts were a success since her game — “Slooooks!” — was named one of Dr. Toy’s 2011 Best Vacation Products.

“It’s a really good travel game,” Patterson said. “The idea is that it is fun anywhere.

“You can even do it in the grocery store, really,” she said. “You can take it in the cart.”

A scavenger hunt wasn’t quite the type of game that could be played over and over and taken along for fun on the go, so Patterson worked on a new idea.

“I needed to find a way that it’s different every time, anywhere,” she said. “It changes depending upon where you are.”

The game doesn’t have a whole lot to it as far as parts, but that’s what its creator thinks will make it a hit with parents, who won’t have to grumble about missing pieces or stepping on tiny components left on the floor.

It’s a binder-style board game with the instructions on the back. It opens up to reveal the game board with two spinners that point to colors and letters. The only removable piece is a sand timer.

It’s a colorful game board with cartoon faces. Patterson enlisted metro Detroit artist Tom Helland to do the illustrations for the board.

“I think he did a great job,” Patterson said, calling it “a little quirky, but cute. I think it was perfect for the game.”

An example of how the game can be played is that an area of play is defined, possibly a section of the house or whatever is outside the car while traveling. Then, players spin the color wheel and the alphabet wheel.

They need to find items in the playing area that are that particular color and start with that letter. Younger players who are learning their colors might use just the color wheel, which makes it a learning game as well, Patterson said.

“Then there’s a speed round,” Patterson said. “Everyone looks at once.”

Dr. Toy’s website, www.drtoy. com, includes a number of lists of best toys and uses several criteria for each of those lists. Some of those lists include “Best Classic Toys,” “Green Products” and “Best Picks.”

Dr. Toy is run by Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, an expert in child development.

“As a childhood specialist for 40 years, I have seen the continuous, essential need for more year-round resources for consumers to identify and choose the most appropriate products for all children,” Auerbach stated in a press release on her website.

“The Best Vacation Products are a balanced selection from large and small, new and established, companies across the U.S.A., Canada, and around the world and will provide children with exciting new learning tools that will help them not only do better in school, but also will provide more constructive activities while traveling or at vacation destinations,” she stated.

This isn’t Patterson’s only toy venture. Patterson, who is an interior designer as well, completed another idea for a new game and is working on a third.

Her test subjects are her children and their friends. She knows if she’s onto something by their reactions during play.

“I can look and say, ‘Are they laughing? Are they having fun?’” she said.