The playing of games: board games, tabletop games, card games etc., can be lots of fun and an excellent way of spending some quality family fun together. They can also be very educational, like the fun and addictive word game Bananagrams! Bananagrams is a word game that helps children with words and spelling. And it is not just a game for the children, it is just as much fun for adults to play as well.
If you have ever played Scrabble, Bananagrams is a similar type of game. Both are games of creating word grids. Whilst Scrabble has a board and scores points, Bananagrams has no board and no points are given, to win at Bananagrams (or rather become the Top Banana) you must be the first player to get rid of all your tiles by creating words.
Bananagrams is a very distinctive game, it doesn’t come in a box but in a bright yellow banana shaped zip-up pouch that contains 144 letter tiles and instructions. It is a game suitable for 2-6 players, aged 7+ and has a playing time of around 15 to 20 minutes.
Playing Bananagrams is easy and lots of fun, although you might want a dictionary handy to check the validity and spelling of words. The banana pouch contains 144 tiles, known as the Bunch, and these are placed face down in the centre of the table. Depending on how many people are playing dictates how many tiles each player takes (2-4 players = 21 tiles each and 5-6 players = 15 tiles). One player shouts “SPLIT” and everyone simultaneously turns their tiles over and starts to play, racing to create their own word grid with the aim of getting rid of all their letter tiles by creating valid words as quickly as they can. Words must read left to right horizontally, or top to bottom vertically. The grid can be rearranged at any time, and as many times as you like.
That all sounds easy, but as it is a competitive game there is a twist to make the game more entertaining and fun – every time a player plays their last tile, they need to shout “PEEL” and all players must take another tile from the bunch. If you find yourself stuck, you can shout ‘dump’ and place one of your tiles, face down in the bunch. The catch is that you then must take three tiles from the bunch, making your task of getting rid of all your tiles even harder! But gives other players a chance of winning.
Play continues until there are less tiles left in the bunch than there are the number of people playing. When this happens, the first player to use up all their tiles in their word grid and shouts “BANANAS” wins, subject to the other players scrutinising the word grid to make sure words are spelt correctly and are indeed valid words.
Once the words are checked for any misspelled words, abbreviations or proper nouns (these cannot be accepted), if any errors are found then the other players shout out “ROTTEN BANANA” which puts that player out of the game, so be careful what words you use and be as sure as you can be of the spellings as Bananagrams has no spellcheck. The rotten banana’s tiles are then returned face down to the bunch and play continues with the remaining players.
Overall, I think that Bananagrams is a fun and fantastic word game of building crossword grids. We all love playing it in our house. It is a simple game to play and is more quick-paced and frantic than I would have expected from a letter tiles game, and for me, I think it is much better than Scrabble. It requires no pen, paper, timers or additional items to play, all you need is a flat playing surface.
We played the game as a family, the kids vs kids, and adults vs adults and to be honest I think that it works best where players are of similar abilities, so kids vs kids rather than kids vs adults, purely because the vocabulary and spelling skills could be miles apart between a 10 year old and a 50 year old, you would have to decide what works best with your family.
The instructions also have rules for three alternative ways to play:
- BANANA SMOOTHIE: a slower game for when you are in no mood to rush – it has no peeling or dumping.
- BANANA CAFÉ: has dumping but no peeling.
- BANANA SOLITAIRE: a relaxing game to play alone.
The quality of all the letter tiles is excellent. I particularly liked that the letters are etched into the tiles rather than just printed on top, making them far more durable as the print won’t wear off as quickly or easily, prolonging the longevity of the game. The banana pouch also feels very good quality.
I think that Bananagrams is a fun and enjoyable game for children or adults, possibly older children than 7 – it all depends on how comfortable they would be with their spelling. It is an excellent educational tool as whilst it is a fun and competitive game it also helps players with learning to spell, learn new words and help learn the meaning of unfamiliar words.
The banana pouch is certainly an attention grabber and this easy to carry pouch makes it a very portable game, a perfect travel game, one that can be played wherever you can find a flat surface. The banana theme makes the game very engaging for children.
Bananagrams is a fun, entertaining and educational game. A fun way for children to learn new words, practice spelling and develop their language skills. And perfect for adults to pit the vocabulary skills and spelling against each other. An enjoyable game for those game nights with friends and family.