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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.
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Day G

says:

Love this!

Brittany Phillips

says:

I love this idea.

Becky

says:

I should try this!

Kristi Preas

says:

Thank you for the idea!

Terra

says:

Looks fun, not so sure my 5 year old would agree though.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Terra,
At such a young age, I’d be inclined to just leave the letters from this game lying out and see if he plays with them a bit. You may also consider My First Bananagrams, which has larger, colorful, lowercase letter tiles. On the maker’s website, they have a number of games to play with the tiles starting with just learning letters for the very youngest players.

Michelle Parsons

says:

I love this! I tried it with my 6 year old last night and we had a blast making funny words!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great to hear that this game went well with your 6-year-old, Michelle! 😊

Nancy

says:

Looks like a fun idea. Thanks.

Liralen Canion

says:

We modified this game to play with a second grade neighbor. Each person pulled 3 tiles out of the banana bag and tried to spell a word. We did some collaborative play in suggesting word ideas. Then everyone drew another tile from the banana bag and added to their word. Often it took three or four draws before a player could make a word. The person with the best anagram array won the game.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love these modifications, Liralen! Thank you.

Shannon

says:

Never played, but think we might try.

Donald Errol Knight

says:

This really does look like fun!

Jessica

says:

This is so amazing !

Hannah

says:

I’ve been looking at this game for a while for my kids, maybe this year is the year for us to add it to school.

Nichole

says:

Thanks for this post. I’ve been eyeing bananagrams for awhile now and I think my 7 year old would greatly benefit from using them! She is using AAS1 at them moment and doing really well.

My parents often played games with their two daughters. My mother and her mother both loved word games, so we played a lot of them. However, somehow we missed out on Bananagrams. After reading this post, I’m excited to play Bananagrams with my students this year – games are a great way to learn!

Melissa K

says:

This done like great practice time for all of us!

Monique L.S.

says:

I was not familiar with this game, but I see other parents looking for them a lot. And from your post it sounds like it is an awesome game.

Heather

says:

What a fun way to practice spelling!

Beth

says:

We were given this game but have never played it. Now that we have made it through some AAS levels maybe we are ready to give it a try. Thanks for the added incentive!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ooo, do give it a go, Beth. I’d love to hear if your students like it!

Andra

says:

I love this game! And love the tips for using to reinforce skills

Amanda

says:

Great game!

Anna Pry

says:

we love this both as a game and just as a manipulative for free play

Judith Martinez

says:

I have a ton of Scrabble letters from several different sets. The boards are long gone. I should put a set together for bananagrams.

Mary Schuh

says:

Thank you for going through how to play. I’ve been thinking of getting this for my kids, but my oldest will be 7 in December so I wasn’t sure if it wcould be too advanced for him or if I should get the junior Bananagrams version.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mary,
I think you could go either way. The junior version, call My First Bananagrams, has colorful and slightly larger tiles. In Bananagrams, the tiles are single-colored capital letters and in My First Bananagrams, they are multicolored lower case letters. My First Bananagrams also contains a few tiles that have two letters joined together, like AT and EA. Young children can play the regular Bananagrams game as soon as they can spell some simple words. If they can make CAT, they are ready to play. However, My First Bananagrams is so much like the regular game that it can be just as much challenge and fun for adults.

However, the regular Bananagrams has 144 tiles compared to My First Bananagrams’ 93 tiles. The regular game is better if you will be playing with more players. Bananagrams is rated for up to 8 players and My First Bananagrams is just for up to 4 players.

I hope this helps you choose, but both are great options.

Aimee

says:

Love this idea!

Rachel Fierro

says:

Going to have to get a copy of this…we have scrabble and the alphabet soup games.

Jessica Grove

says:

We love bananagrams

Susan Salcedo

says:

I’ve had them for a while and now looking forward to my oldest playing with these

Glitter Mama

says:

I love this!

Vanessa

says:

I’m looking forward to my oldest finally being able to play this game. I’m planning on buying ans uaing it as a stocking stuffer at Christmas!

Sabrina

says:

Thanks for the tips! I’ve been trying to find new ways to incorporate more games into our homeschool!

Ayantu Bird

says:

Love this! We have the adult and little kid versions and we are taking them on vacation and will for sure give this a try!

Jessica

says:

What a fun game for on the go! TFS!

Karolina

says:

Love the idea!

Theress

says:

What a cool idea! My kids would go “bananas” over this!

Jocelyn

says:

What a fun idea! I want to try this!

Suzanne

says:

Yes! We just purchased this game and now have even more ways to use it. Thank you!

Amber Pool

says:

What a fabulous idea! I’m grabbing ours tomorrow to use with the kiddos! What other games do I have that can be used for learning as well!?!?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amber,
Most games can be used for learning something. Even if the game is just fun, you can add reading or spelling word cards and have players read or spell a word before their turn.

Melissa

says:

My students love this game!

Nicole

says:

What a fun idea

Tammy

says:

I love adding fun to my lessons!

Ashley

says:

That looks super fun, I may need to add that to our stash of games!

Alicia B

says:

What a great way to reinforce spelling skills! We love AAR and Bananagrams, great idea to combine them!

Sarah

says:

Sounds like a fun way to learn spelling

Kathy

says:

Love this game!

Tausha

says:

We love using Bananagrams for letter sounds and spelling fun. It’s a blast!

Tori

says:

Fun idea! I’ll have to get this game

Pam

says:

We have used bananagrams to work on CVC words before and she really enjoyed it. It’s a great idea.

Kelly

says:

Bananagrams was a mainstay in my purse when my children were young. We pulled it out anywhere we had to wait- restaurants, etc. I continue to suggest Bananagrams to my students as a fun family activity, especially over the summer, to help ward off summer learning loss!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great idea, Kelly! It’s always nice to have something ready to entertain kids when you have to wait, especially when you have to wait on food. 😊

Jennifer

says:

We love word games! This is one of our favorites!

Julie Gatewood

says:

We love banana grams! Great ideas!

Amy

says:

I love these ideas! We have this game in our closet and I’m excited to pull it out and try with my kids.

Brittany Beldham

says:

This is an awesome activity for my beginning reader!

Stephanie

says:

We LOVE banana Grams! So many fun and exciting games that you can play, and your kiddos don’t even realize they are learning. From letter recognition, sounds, different phonetic awareness, to word building…its a great piece for the whole family to have.

Rebekah

says:

Might have to try some of these suggestions out.

Julie

says:

great way to use bananagrams!

Ana

says:

I love this! We have banangrams Jr- thanks for the great ideas!

Lupita

says:

We were lucky to have been given this game! amazing tips!

Aubree Everly

says:

I love anything resembling Scrabble, so this activity looks like so much fun!

Lacy Carbery

says:

I have heard about bananagrams and am excited to try them!

Laura

says:

This looks like a fun game! Thanks for the review.

Crystal

says:

Thanks for the fun ideas!

Rachel Kozell

says:

I’ve always wanted to use these but never knew how I could link it all together. Thank you

Ali Rich

says:

So cool!

Selina Ramsden

says:

Great idea! Thank you!

Tanya

says:

Can’t wait to play this game with my kids!

Jessica Crews

says:

We love Snail’s Pace Race. It isn’t specifically a a language building game but it sparks many fun discussions and we create our own made up ways to make the snails race!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the recommendation, Jessica! It sounds like an interesting game.

Wendy Fonner

says:

Awesome. Our whole family loves tiles

Gail

says:

Love this!

Jennifer Cummings

says:

Love AAR

Tonya

says:

What an awesome idea! My son loves tiles!

Tamara

says:

I’d love to try this! Look like a lot of fun!

Laura

says:

Looking forward to trying this!

Laura

says:

Looking forward to trying this idea!

Courtney

says:

Looks like a really fun game!

A p

says:

B is for Bananas. Awesome will have to add this.

Suzy

says:

Looks like fun!

Nakia Washington

says:

I love bananagrams

Ambrr

says:

We love Bananagrams!

Nina West

says:

I have been eyeing this game for along time. Now I have a reason to get it!

Nicole Taylor

says:

❤️ Bananagrams

Cari

says:

I can’t wait to try this!!

Nancy

says:

I’ve seen these at target. I love all the ideas shared here!

Amy

says:

This looks fun! Thanks for the information and review!

Erin

says:

Love bananagrams!!

Jean

says:

My daughter loves playing with the banana gram tiles. She usually just sees how many words she can make

Shayla

says:

What a good idea!

Robyn

says:

This is one of our favorite games.

Marilyn

says:

What a fun way to learn

Beth

says:

We have so many math skill games, but none for reading fluency! This is such a great idea!

Adrienne

says:

What a fun idea! Thanks for sharing!

Jessica

says:

I love word games, this would be a great camping game.

Dani

says:

This is a good reminder to make it fun and think outside the box on ways to practice.

Pam

says:

This looks fun!

Christine

says:

We love banana grams. We often use them with the fluency sheets!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great idea, Christine! I’m sure they would make the fluency practice sheets more fun.

Heidi

says:

We’ve got several games for reading comprehension that I haven’t used just because I forget they’re there. We tend to be better at games for geography and history. This post was a good reminder that there’s a game for just about any subject. I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, such a great point, Heidi. There are so many games available nowadays to make any subject fun!

Elisabeth Hansen

says:

Love these ideas as I already have Bananagrams.

Tami Sisemore

says:

Love these ideas!!

Jessica

says:

I’m looking forward to playing this with my daughter 😍

Sarah

says:

I bought banana grams at the grocery today after reading this blog post!

Sarah K

says:

Love this idea! Thank you!

Cheryl

says:

We have this game! The kids enjoy it.

Kristen

says:

What a fun idea!

Shawna Jansen

says:

We love bananagrams!! Games are such a fun way to learn!

Amanda

says:

I bet my girls would love this game!

Brandee Fendrick

says:

I love All About Learning Press!!

Courtney Batten

says:

Bananagrams are wonderful! We play with them daily. We have even put magnets on the back of them and take them on car rides with a cookie sheet. My girls love them! And they love AAR!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love the magnet idea for car rides, Courtney!

Leigha Gordon Parrish

says:

This is the best reading and spelling curriculum we have used!!

Kristin Evans

says:

Sounds like a fun game!

Sarah S

says:

Looks like a fun game

Tracey H.

says:

I have not ever considered this game. I may now, though, because it may make spelling less challenging to get through.

Lee

says:

Such a great idea!

Ashley linde

says:

This looks so fun!! I am going to try this with my boys.

Rachelle

says:

I’ve never played this game, but it looks like fun.

Liana

says:

Love this reading curriculum. It made my fear of teaching my kids to read go away. Thank you!

Awe this is cute! I planned to get letter tiles anyway for my soon to be kindergartener but these looks pretty awesome!

Ally

says:

What a great idea!

Alyssa

says:

We’ve used bananagrams in the past for different homeschooling activities, as a striving minimalist I love when we can use items we already have.

Robin

says:

We use those all the time and love them! Great idea!

Sara Thomas

says:

I have been interested in these!

Paula Voss

says:

Not a board game, but we have an alphabet version of Go Fish that has uppercase and lowercase letters paired with grown and baby animal names. My kids have fun matching the uppercase and lower case letters and the animals.

Ashley F

says:

I love this! Such a fun way to learn!

Leah

says:

I now know what is going on my kids Christmas list!

Angie Patterson

says:

This is a great idea to help my struggling speller.

janae

says:

I love this idea!

Mitzi Cleart

says:

I love all the ideas and resources ABLP provides. My 2 boys are excelling with this program!

Kate

says:

I’m looking forward to using Bananagrams with my kiddos next year!

Vanessa Richmond

says:

These are on my list and will definitely getthem now.

BrittK

says:

A real fun way to practice spelling. Great idea!

Anna Gibson

says:

This is something I hadn’t thought of integrating into our reading time. Definitely going to be using this game next year.

Tawnie

says:

Ah, I’ve seen these all over the place but never realized what they were. Looks like I’m gonna have to grab us some!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, do, Tawnie! It’s a great game.

Angela

says:

Always looking for fun ways to reinforce concepts!! Thanks!

Jessica Nelson

says:

This is such a cute game! My son has an alphabet puzzle and created his own variation of this game, where he takes the letters and makes a word, and changing one or two letters at a time, we go back and forth to see who can come up with the most new words! He would LOVE this! Thanks for sharing!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ooo, I like this adaptation, Jessica. It would reinforce the similarities and differences between words while still being play. Thanks for sharing this!

Sherry

says:

My sister and I used to play “Bananagrams” with Scrabble tiles! Didn’t have to carry around the board much more travel friendly.

Tristan

says:

We use candyland for counting and color recognition!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tristan,
Candyland is such a great game. It’s still fun to play when your child is a bit older too. You can use the All About Reading phonogram cards or word cards and have each player draw one card and say the phonogram sounds or read the card before taking their turn.

Sarah Raineri

says:

Great idea I bought the junior version for my son.

Heather

says:

We love Bananagramd!

Charlene

says:

Fun idea!

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

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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