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Using Bananagrams to Build Language Skills

Go Bananas with Bananagrams!

How quickly can you take a handful of letters and create an intersecting grid of words? It’s a fun challenge!

Bananagrams game pieces

Bananagrams is a lively spelling game for ages 7 to 107 that will have your family and friends racing to spell as quickly as they can! You can build words horizontally and vertically, and you can shuffle them up anytime you need to—just make sure each word connects to at least one other word. You’ll have to be quick-thinking and fast-fingered if you want to be the first player to yell, “Bananas!”

The game comes with 144 letter tiles and is recommended for up to eight players to ensure that everyone gets sufficient tiles. But if you have more than eight eager players, Double Bananagrams has 288 tiles that allows for even more Bananagrams fun.

How to Play

Let’s get started!

The number of tiles each player begins with depends on the number of players. If you only have four players, then everyone takes 21 tiles from the “Bunch.” When everyone has their tiles ready and waiting face down in front of them, someone begins the game by calling out, “Split!” This is the signal to turn your tiles face up and get going!

Let’s take a look at your tiles.

bananagrams letter tiles

It may not look like there’s any words in there at first, but don’t worry. Just grab the first one you see and lay it out. You could spell the word build.

bananagrams word build

But wait…you can add a suffix and spell building.

bananagrams word building

Did you notice you have a J in your bunch? Js can be hard to use, but there’s a way you can use it right away and spell jog. Hmmm…not so fast! You have an S too. You can add it to jog and turn it into jogs. Now you’re getting the hang of it!

bananagrams add s

Keep adding words until you have used all your tiles.

bananagrams anagram

Look at that! You’re the first to finish. Quick, call out, “Peel!” That means you’ve finished and it’s time for all the players (including you) to grab another tile from the Bunch.

You drew an M!

Sometimes you have to rearrange your tiles as you draw new letters…but not this time. You can add your M to the end of see and make the word seem.

bananagrams add M

Time for another “Peel!”

Uh-oh—this time you drew a Q. What can you do with a Q?

Well, since Q is always followed by the letter U, you’ll have to use the U in building. Just take the EAK off of beak and make the word quake.

bananagrams using a Q

Way to go!

The game is over when there are no more fresh tiles in the Bunch. When that happens, the first player to use up all his or her tiles yells, “Banana!” and you have a winner!

Here’s our biggest tip: be prepared to rearrange your tiles into completely different words when you draw new letters. By the end of the game, your board might look like this:

bananagrams final anagram

See how many different words you can make with the same letters?

Download your Bananagrams Game Sheet

4 Ways to Build Language Skills with Bananagrams

  1. Broaden vocabulary. A strong command of the English language is a fantastic asset if you want to become a real Bananagrams champion. The more words you know, the easier it will be to win! The game introduces kids to new words and encourages them to expand their vocabularies as they search for words in their tiles.
  2. Reinforce spelling skills. If you have a child who would benefit from a fun way to practice spelling, this game is a terrific option! Not only is it super-engaging, it makes spelling practice practically painless. Kids will definitely love being able to shout “Rotten Banana!” when they spot a misspelled word in another player’s grid.
  3. Learn about anagrams. This game is called Bananagrams for a reason! An anagram is a word formed with letters found in another word. Because players may have to rearrange their letters multiple times throughout a game, it gives kids the perfect chance to explore the vast number of words that can be made with the letters they’re given.
  4. Gain familiarity with word parts. Bananagrams requires careful strategy; while it sometimes pays to just slap down whatever words you see, you can increase your chances of winning by paying attention to blends, consonant teams, vowel teams, prefixes, and suffixes. Kids will learn to keep an eye out for handy combinations like EN, ED, ES, TION, and ING, and they’ll get comfortable using them to create words.

Notes from Our Game Testers

  • This game is an absolute blast!
  • There are many options for adjusting the game to make it different and keep it exciting. The instructions included with the game offer suggestions for more ways to play, but don’t be afraid to invent your own. You might especially need to make adjustments when playing with younger children.
  • Unlike some games that take a while to set up (here’s looking at you, Monopoly), Bananagrams requires no scoring, pencils, paper, or other tools to play. All you need are the tiles and a few eager players!

Does your family have a favorite board game that is a fun and “sneaky” way to build language skills? Please share in the comments below!

All About Learning Press, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All proceeds from our partnership with Amazon.com will be donated to local libraries.
bananagrams pinterest graphic
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Leave a Comment

Linda

says:

I love Bananagrams. My family have learned new words playing this.

shana levy

says:

looks fun

Julia B

says:

Sounds like an great game to pack for vacations, hotels, camping, etc.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It is, Julia! It’s a great travel game, as all the tiles fit in a small zipper pouch (banana shaped) that takes up very little space. We toss it in a bag for camping trips.

Jess

says:

Oh, we have a game just like this. It’s so fun!

Amy L Flynt

says:

I love this idea. I will have to put this one on the to do list!!

Denise

says:

This sounds like a really fun game! My kids and I love playing games together, and I think we would all enjoy this one.

Jen

says:

This sounds like a fun way to have your kids work on their spelling. Sometimes my kids play wordscapes with me. They have to find different words with 6 different letters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

My family likes Wordscapes too, Jen. And since it’s a phone app we can play a round or two while waiting in line or wherever.

Kim

says:

We’ve enjoyed Bananagrams! Thanks for this reminder to get it out again and play!

christina mermis

says:

Looks like a sneaky way to get my kids to learn by having fun!! 😀

Ericka

says:

What a AWESOME idea!

Belle

says:

I’ll have to look for this game. All three of my children (almost 8-20) can play this together!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That’s one of the things I love about this game too, Belle. Since each player plays their own tiles, it works with a wide range of skills.

Sarah Joss

says:

We love this game! We sometimes just leave the tiles on a cookie sheet on the kitchen table for random “secret message” writing, which encourages my little one to read!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love your “secret message” idea, Sarah!

Rachel

says:

Thanks for sharing this! I like this idea as it can work on spelling with kids.

Kassi

says:

I’ve been interested in this game for a while. Thanks for the post!

Jen Tucker

says:

What a fun interactive way for kids to learn. I also love that it grows with your kid as they go through different levels of learning

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great point, Jen! Many games have a limited age-range that they are appropriate for but Bananagrams is equally wonderful for new spellers and old.

Megan Gustafson

says:

This looks like a fun way to teach spelling.

Shellie Velez

says:

I have been wanting to try this

Colleen Martin

says:

This is a great family game!

dolores rinehart

says:

great way to teach spelling

Diane Berlin

says:

My kids love when we play with our Banagram tiles. They started with CVC words and have progressed to multi syllable words, beginning/ending blends and now we are working on digraphs. Great tool.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Diane,
It’s great to hear that Bananagrams has worked so well for your kids!

Laura Plott

says:

My son recently discovered this game on our shelf (I’ve been saving it for the upcoming school year) and he loves it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Laura,
Don’t you just love it when kids stumble upon a game or a type of play that helps their learning but they just think it’s fun? 😊

Shayla Rios

says:

Just found this website! Love it!!!

Katie Sullenbrand

says:

We love banana grams!

Ellen

says:

This looks like an awesome game to play with the whole family to help kids with their spelling!

Chantelle

says:

Great idea! Thanks

Cheree

says:

Love bananagrams! Scrabble could also work

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cheree,
I like Scrabble too, but since with Scrabble someone can take the spot you were planning to use, and the point system can be complicated, I think Bananagrams is better for younger players or those that have had trouble with spelling.

Sara Hall

says:

We just started using Bananagrams and it’s so much fun to play together! With my youngest we play ABC Bingo and ABC Go Fish.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
ABC Bingo and ABC Go Fish sound like great games for younger learners. Thanks for the recommendation!

Nancy

says:

What spelling level do you think a child should be at to enjoy this game? My kids really struggle as dyslexics, and I don’t know if they would feel defeated by this or encouraged.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
That’s a great question. Even students in All About Spelling level 1 would be able to play Bananagrams. You may need to downplay the competition, so your kids aren’t going against others who don’t struggle with spelling, but they will be able to find words to make even if they are in the lowest levels of spelling.

Rene

says:

We added the use of electronic dictionaries for our spelling challenged kids, gave permission for challened spellers to ask good spellers how to spell something, and also down-played the speed we played at. It was still a lot of fun and made for great teamwork.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love the idea to allow the use of an electronic dictionary, Rene!

Olga

says:

We play this game as a family including my husband who beats EVERYONE he knows at words with friends. So it can feel pretty defeating for my daughter to play against daddy when she’s 8 and doesnt know as many words as dad. We’ve set some ground rules. Dad can only use 4 letter words or up when he plays with her. Also, we focus on what words we were able to make, vs who wins first. And when they’re feeling really creative, dad and daughter play together to use up all the letters, with a specific theme. Sometimes it’s all food items, or animals, or what say you/ Hope that helps. This way your child isn’t playing alone or against anyone else, but with someone as a team

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Olga,
I’m so excited to read of how your daughter and her daddy play together cooperatively with a theme in mind! What a great activity in so many ways. It is social and quality time to together, but it also is a great activity to expand your daughter’s vocabulary and spelling skills too. Thank you so much for sharing this idea.

Emily H.

says:

Looks like fun for kids with a variety of ability levels!

Tessa

says:

I love this idea! I will have to try with my kiddos soon.

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