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Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Love This: Bananagrams

I am a Werd Nerd.

I love crosswords and word searches and even fill-ins.  I play the letter games on My Baby.  My second favorite game on is Word Whomp.  I play a mean Perquacky, Mad Gab, Last Word and Balderdash.

I despise, however, Scrabble.  People who recognize my love of language are sometimes surprised by this fact.

Here's my beef with Mr. A.M. Butts and his 1938 invention: I can come up with a b-e-a-Utiful word.  Use all my letters.  Even use a J.  BUT THERE IS NOWHERE ON THE BOARD TO PLAY IT.  So there it sits, turn after turn being scavenged to form "jet," "help" and "tide."  Yawn.  No one will ever know the brilliance sitting here, full of hope, in my letter tray, waiting for its chance to leap onto the Triple Word Box.  Rats.

Enter: Bananagrams!  The free-form Scrabble-like game in a banana bag.  Excellent!  Here's why I love this game:

1. Go at your own pace: you're not holding anyone up by trying to think of a word using your X.  Take all the time you need!

2. Clicky ivory-like tiles.  Very tactile.  I'm all about tactile.

3. No one's words are IN YOUR WAY.

4. No silly colored squares to trifle with.

5. No math.  Really. (well, unless you are going with tournament-style, and then I guess you track how many tiles the loser(s) have left).

6. PORTABILITY.  Big for me: tidy packaging.  No standard-sized board game box under your arm, announcing: "We are about to engage in a terribly annoying game that will take at least an hour!" as you walk into the room.  Nope, slide this puppy into a coat pocket and you can be Stealth Word Monger.

7. Quality: Yes, it's possible the zipper could die on the banana.  But you could just toss the letters into something fabulous like this.  What happens when you get coffee on the Scrabble board? a trip to Toys R Us.

8. Semi-even playing field: you don't have to know all the three-letter words that start with "e" to play your last tile.  You simply make what you know, and if you get stuck, you pull apart some other word and make something different.  If you don't naturally think of words like "conveyance," "naturalist" and "garbanzo," you can stick with "chairs," "package," and "train."  No problem.

I am a Bananagramma Mamma-Jamma.


  1. excellent comparison . . . never thought about it. We have scrabble, but we don't keep points. It's a pain. Love the banana much more than the flat bread . . . nice post.

  2. Alistair LOVES Scrabble, so K10 got him Scrabble Apple for Christmas last year-- I have a feeling you would love it! I've been using it with my ESL kids and it is fantastic! Its similar to Bananagrams, except there is a little more of a competitiveness to it, in that everyone makes their own words, but out of a collective pool of letters, so you have to be on your toes and see the words the fastest! Also, you can steal other people's words by adding letters to them. Its fast-paced and fun, and a round usually takes anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour depending on your skill level. You can keep track of points if you want (the tiles have the scrabble points values), and I tend to make my students figure out the total values for their words and then I'll add them all up for them (get a little math in there as well as English!) :-)