A word game that is great for playing while travelling, while also being amazing fun, is Bananagrams. There is no board, just a bag of 144 letter tiles. The game comes in a banana-shaped pouch that is easy to fit into a bag to take on a trip. The game is ideal for all ages and vocabularies and certainly helps to build word power and spelling prowess.
Most comfortably played with four players, we also played as two teams of two and this was great fun. The game can be played by between 2 and 8 players. You make grids of words similar to a crossword and the first player to use all their tiles and make a viable grid wins.
To start play, all 144 tiles are placed face down in the centre of the table. This is called the ‘BUNCH‘. Everyone takes tiles from the Bunch and places them face-down. The number of tiles taken depends on the numbers playing:
- 2-4 People: each player takes 21 letters.
- 5-6 People: each player takes 15 letters.
- 7 People: each player takes 11 letters.
Several command words are used in this game. ‘SPLIT‘ starts the game, allowing players to turn over their tiles. The idea then is to build a word grid like a crossword with your own tiles. You need to be the first to finish. When all your tiles are gone you shout ‘PEEL‘. At this point every player picks another letter tile. The idea is to use all the tiles in a grid and be the first to finish. Your grid can be rearranged as many times as you like as you play.
When a player uses all their letters in a crossword they call ‘PEEL‘ everybody has to take a tile and add it to their collection of letters. At any time, you can return a problem letter back to the bunch by calling ‘DUMP‘. However, you must take three letters in return. Play lasts until there are fewer tiles in the bunch than there are players. At this point, the first player with no letters left calls ‘BANANAS‘ and is the winner.
The winning grid is inspected for misspelled or incorrect words. This is because proper nouns like names and brand names are not allowed. If the grid words are correct, then that player wins. If any word is excluded, then that player is a ‘ROTTEN BANANA‘ and is out of the game. They return all of their letters face down to the bunch and the game resumes for remaining players.
Bananagrams is great game. There’s good, fast game play. The rules are easy and can be adapted for younger players. Shortened versions of the game can be played in limited time. There is even a solitaire version of the game which is brilliant. We even developed a sort of Scrabble-type game with the longest word winning. There are loads of variations and Millie-Mae (11) and Toby (9) loved it. They especially enjoyed playing in a team version of the game with mum and dad. It’s a hit. I definitely recommend it for travelling.