If you love Scrabble you should enjoy BANANAGRAMS, and if you don’t enjoy Scrabble you may likely fall in love with this variation of the word puzzle idea.


BANANAGRAMS_logoSome folks love Scrabble while others feel it’s too much luck of the draw and dependent on how the person before you plays. This word game provides the fun of the Scrabble crossword style — but leaves you full control of your own word puzzle.

The official rules say to Place all 144 tiles face down on the table. (They call this the “bunch.”)

Bananagrams_in_bagHowever, I like to leave them in the yellow banana, turn my eyes, and pick from there.
Either way, if you’re playing with 2-4 players, each takes 21 letters to start. For more players you’d start with fewer tiles.


Upon callout of the word “split,” each of you begins to build his/her own crossword-style puzzle, independently of the others, on the table in front you. (Leave yourself a lot of room — more room than you believe you’ll need — to build your puzzle.) You can move your letters and words around as you do this initial build — or at any time during the game.

The first person to use all of his letters calls out “peel!” and takes another tile. All others take another tile, too. Again, the first person to use all his letters calls “peel.” And so on — until there are no more tiles. As you might guess, the first person to use all his tiles when there are none left, wins. (There’s no scoring.)

Just when you think you’re not doing well…
Often a few “peels” will provide you with enough letters to create words when you’ve been stuck, while the person placing letters fastest will get stuck.

It’s fun to rethink your words, to grab the “-ed” or “-y” of a word in order to build a new word elsewhere. Of course you can do more than remove the ending of a word. You can totally pull any part of your puzzle apart to construct anew.

There are a few other rules if you’d like to follow them: dumping hard-to-place letters, use of nouns, etc.

One thing I love about this is that because each builds his own puzzle at his own vocabulary level, you can play with people of varied ages. I’ve played with a 12-year-old and we each won one of our two games. (We used a free iPhone app called CheckWord whenever we weren’t sure a word was really a word. I’m also for any app that helps people discover new words.)

Another fun thing: clean-up is easy. Just toss all the tiles back into their banana bag.

About $15
To find a reseller near you in the United States, check this page.

Recommended by Deborah Shadovitz