I'm sure you've heard of the fast-paced, addictive word game Bananagrams? If you haven't, where have you been?
The rules for Bananagrams are quite simple. Based on 2-4 people playing, the first thing you do is place all 144 tiles down on the table (you call these the bunch), then each player takes 21 letters from the bunch, keeping them face down. Next somebody (anybody) says "split" an all players now turn their own tiles face up and have to start forming their own connecting and intersecting words - a bit like you would in games like Scrabble - the words can be horizontal or vertical, reading left to right and from top to bottom. Players can rearrange as much as they like and you are all playing independently at the same time. When a player has none of their letters left that player has to say "peel" and then takes a tile from the bunch. All other players take a tile too. If when you're making your words you find a difficult to use tile you can return this to the centre of the bunch (by saying "dump") - you can do this at any time and as often as you like but you have to take three letters in return. The game continues until there are fewer tiles in the bunch than there are players. The first player to have no letters left shouts "bananas" and they are the winner. If the winner has any words that are unacceptable they become a "rotten banana" and is out of the game.
What I like about this game is that you can be any age to play it - children can enjoy it just as much as adults and for children, it can be really quite educational. I also like that it can only take a few minutes to play a game so if you just want to fill a little time, it's perfect for that as I find some word games take too long and can get a bit dull, especially with children playing - their attention span isn't always up to it! It's suggests 2-8 players however I'd just like to say it's quite good fun to just play on your own - I like to think I am sharpening my skills!
Appletters is a similar word game however it's aimed at younger children, aged 5+. The game helps to develop spelling skills, enhance strategic thinking, encourage co-operating and turn-taking and improve concentrnation. The idea of the game is that players work together to make a word worm by taking turns to attach words to the head or the tail of the worm. The goal is to be the first to use all of your letters. One of the main differences in this game is that words placed down must be started or ended by a letter that is already part of the worm. My children enjoyed playing this game as it's something they can do together. Play lasts quite a bit longer than Bananagrams but not too long that they lost interest.
PEARSinPEARS is a game which is aimed at even younger children, aged 3+. I found that this was the best game for my 5 year old to play as he was a little unsure in the others, but could play this one confidently. This game helps to teach the alphabet, enhance spelling skills and problem solving, builds early reading skills and improves critical thinking. There are different levels of play and for pre-readers the activities can be pattern grouping, learning ABC's, letter hunts and sounding out and then for children who are just beginning to read there are activities such as alphabetical order, word pairs and rhyming. Those activities alone make it a great education tool but there are also two games that more advanced readers can play based on the familiar premise of making intersecting words. I really liked PEARSinPEARS as a game that can grow with your children and I actually think every classroom should have one of these. I spend time helping in school with reception children, playing educational games and I think this is perfect - in fact when we're done with this one I may well pass it on to them!
All three games are of great quality - both the fun pouches and the tiles will stand the test of time. I like how they encourage creativity in my children - they've sat on their own and played with the tiles in the past, just trying to create words and write sentences One of my favourite things about these games is the fact that you don't need a board, pencil or paper which I think makes them great games for travelling. Certainly I think these games will take up residence in our campervan this summer.
We give the Banangrams, Appletters and PAIRSinPAIRS games a big well-deserved thumbs up!
Bananagrams, Appletters and PAIRSinPAIRS are available now to buy from all good book and toy shops on the high street or online from www.bananagrams.com.