Bananagrams is my favourite classroom standby. I covered it in my recent post on games to use in the classroom, and I really do love it because it’s so versatile. And of course it’s an incredibly useful addition to the low-resource classroom! You can do so many things with a banana full of letter tiles… and if you don’t want to stump up the money for the game itself, you could also create paper/cardboard ‘tiles’ and play many of the same games.
Aside: creating your own tiles is time-consuming, and of course you won’t get the banana-shaped bag. Never underestimate the fun of the banana-shaped bag.
Here are some of the ways in which I’ve used Bananagrams in the English classroom:
Spread all the tiles face-up on the table. Call out words and ask students to find the right tiles and spell the words. Depending on the class, students could carry out this task individually or in pairs. You could also introduce a competitive element.
- Young learners (especially if they struggle with penmanship, and you want to see how much they have learnt)
- Individual students (introducing a more kinetic activity adds variety)
- Revising vocabulary with teens/adults (I’ve even done with activity during in-company Business English lessons and received positive feedback)
Spread all the tiles face-up on the table. In pairs/small groups, students take tiles and spell out words (make sure that they hide their words from their classmates). Once the words are spelt out, flip the tiles over. Pairs/groups take it in turns to reveal the letters of their word one-by-one. After each letter is flipped over, other students in the group can try and guess the word. Points are won for every word that is guessed correctly before all the tiles are turned over. If you’re feeling creative – or are good at maths – you could vary the number of points students win by the number of tiles that remain uncovered when the correct guess is made.
- Teenagers (because most games are useful for teenagers)
- Revising vocabulary
- Presenting vocabulary? (this might be a bit ambitious – but if you have time or inclination to set up some words by yourself, this could form a fun part of a test-teach-test set-up… particularly if you are teaching an individual)
Against the clock!
Spread all of the tiles face-up on the table again. Give students a time limit (five minutes is usually enough) and ask them to spell as many words as they can using the letters available. Once the time limit is up, review everyone’s words as a class. The person with the most correct words wins.
- Fillers (this is a great game to play if you have a spare ten minutes)
- Any age/ability (it relies on students’ own knowledge)
If you’re looking for even more inspiration on using your Bananagrams, why not check out the following posts?
- Bananagrams in a ‘centres’ classroom (I love this topics idea!)
- Bananagrams: five alternative ways to play (great ideas for teaching young learners here, and I will have to try out the suggestions for modifying word-building against the clock)
- ESL games and activities (scroll down to #6 for a winning Bananagrams game!)