Love scrabble? Or Word Friends? But want something that your preschooler-elementary aged child can play with you? Having played “the banana game” in the past, I have been drooling over Bananagrams new game series Appletters & Pairs in Pears. Every Friday is “game day” and we try to do fun learning activities all day. A typical Friday includes lego math and sight word ball, but I wanted something more challenging for my oldest who is reading well. We also wanted a game that my barely reading kiddo and our preschooler who “knows her letters” could enjoy together. The Bananagram game series are a great match in our Friday Learning Games series! Check out our KOA Campfire Community this Tuesday, March 6th at 8pm CST, during our live chat, for a chance to get your own set!
“Banana Games” Background:
Designer: Abe Nathanson
Players: 1-4+ people (can modify for larger groups)
Time: 10ish min per game
Age: 7+ (My recommendation: 3+ with minor modifications)
Fun to Age Ratio: 5
Type: Literacy and Vocabulary Building
This is the game that I loved!! Hence I wanted to try the rest of the series. It is perfect for travel… think of it as a form of scrabble, only faster and without the cumbersome board. This game is also a good one to play solo, challenging yourself. You start with a set of tiles (amount varies depending on how many people are playing). All players have their tiles faceup and race to use up all of their letters in the words that they create. Like scrabble, all the words have to connect to each other by sharing some letters, unlike scrabble, your words can be backwards, go up or go down, the “board” is fluid. You can rearrange as often as needed to fit all the letters into your words. When a player uses up all his letters, all the players at the table have to pick another letter together (even if they haven’t formed their words yet) until all the letters are used up. Winner is the first person with no tiles.
The game Appletters comes with three different rule variations, 110 pieces (all letters of the alphabet) and a nifty traveling sack. In my daughter’s favorite version, “Make a Snake”, the goal is to use up all of the tiles. Each player starts with a set of tiles, and the first person puts down a word, then the next person creates a word using the last letter of the previous word as the first or last letter of the word they are creating. If they are unable to make a word they have to draw three tiles from the “core” (the pile of upside down tiles).
Pairs in Pears.
The game Pairs in Pears came with one set of rules and 104 tiles with 4 different “styles” (ex: all white letters, or black letters, even letters with stripes and polka-dots). It scales to large groups really easily, making it the perfect game for traveling with a crowd! In the game, participants race to make “pairs” (the number of pairs required varies by the number of players participating). With my preschoolers playing we ignored the rule that the pairs had to all be “matching” in sets (as coming up with words was enough for their brains to focus on) but for older players the rules say all of the “pairs” you make have to be the same “style” (ex: all striped letters or all solid). What I love is in addition to the traditional “rules” Pairs in Pears also comes with a collection of activities for younger learners (ex: one person create a word and have your tot find the same letters and replicate your word or ask them to make rhyming words). We will enjoy those for sure!!
Edited to add our modifications for younger kids (we played these games with our 3, 4 & 5 year old kids – below is what I had my three year old doing while my preschoolers played with me with real words):
- ask your tot to find a particular letter or string of letters (ex: what three letters come after abc…).
- with Pairs with Pears, give your tot one of the sets of alphabet and ask them to copy your word as you play the game.
- Ask them to find a similar word (ex: if you wrote bat, they need to change one letter in the word to make a new word)
- with Appletters word snakes, make a snake with the alphabet letters instead of words.
**Bananagrams include a number of ways to use each game to explore the alphabet and words with younger children in the rule book. Above are just a few of their variations.
Thanks Bananagrams for the chance to review your games. I know we will enjoy the games that you sent us and have more plans for Zip-it and Fruitominoes for future posts. Are you looking for a board game that is not “word based”? Check out our series: Top Ten Best Board Games for Families.
Do you want a set of Bananagrams, Appletters or Pairs in Pears?? Come join our live chat all about “Family Fun and Games while Camping” in the KOA Around the Campfire Community on Tuesday, March 6th at 8pm CST. We will be giving away two sets of games to participants in the chat.