Let's look at the game itself. In a nutshell, there are 144 tiles and depending on the number of players, each player selects a given number of tiles to commence the game (2-4 players select 21 tiles, 5-6 players 15 tiles). There is no turn taking in this game. Each player uses the selected tiles to create words until they have used all the letters. Whenever a player uses all their tiles they say "Peel" and all players must select another tile from the "Bunch". This continues until there are fewer tiles left in the "Bunch" then there are number of players. I always like the fact that there is no turn taking and each player can work at their own pace.
Now don't just think of this as a "game"! WHY? From my experience, using Bananagrams® was a great strategy to assist students to learn and recall the correct spelling of words from the Dolch list and vocabulary they were covering. I used this resource because learners were able to manipulate the letters to form words, as well as write the word. By introducing this kinaesthetic approach it helped learners see and feel the word they were spelling. Initially, for learners who had an intellectual disability, I used "support sheets". This involved printing off sheets that displayed the words and they covered the letters with tiles. Again the manipulation assisted these learners to memorise the spelling and improve recall.
How I Used Bananagrams
During class I only ever played the game, by the rules, on a few occasions, because it put the students under pressure to perform and that's not what I was after. Basically, I had the learners -
1. Work independently or in a small group.
2. Select 25 tiles from the "Bunch".
3. Initially I had them forming small words they knew or used on a daily basis e.g. has, etc.
4. They'd then use the vocabulary list from the project they were undertaking e.g. horticulture, to develop words.
5. At any time they could select other tiles from the "Bunch" if they were unable to make words with the tiles they had.
To further enhance this activity I'd have the students record the words in their personal electronic Spell Checker or into an indexed notebook. By typing and/or writing the words at this point in time, learners were reinforcing the word's structure and practising to spell the words. Their success in spelling words correctly improved because of the aforementioned strategies. For the pronunciation of words, I'd have a laptop handy where they could access Word Web or The Free Dictionary Online. Both these programs give a learner the opportunity to hear the word plus check their spelling. Using a multi-sensory approach gave the learners an opportunity to incorporate their learning style and to have fun.
Other uses for Bananagrams
Now you've got the spelling thing happening why not consider using this game for -
> alphabetical order
> orgainsing letters into vowels and consonants
> learners use the tiles to make digraphs (two successive letters that are used to represent a single sound e.g. sh) as you make the sound or from a recording
> learners represent diphthongs (two vowel sounds pronounced as one syllable e.g. the vowel sound in `out')
> you or another student place the start and/or ending of a word down, and another student completes the word by inserting the correct tiles.
Sometimes it is okay to go BANANAS!