By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
Most people should be familiar with the advent of the popular word game Bananagrams. Bananagrams has similarities to Scrabble except each player has a pile of random letters that they make into their own grid, using more letters until the pool runs dry and someone has a complete grid. Encased in its distinctive yellow banana-shaped bag, Bananagrams the game has nothing to do with bananas in reality, minus a few fun phrases you are supposed to say while playing. For example, you say, “Peel!” when everyone needs to take a new letter from the pile. The one drawback to Bananagrams is that it was aimed at an older audience of seasoned word game players. While kids could certainly play it, the speed of the game excluded younger players.
The Fruit Stand Grows With Pairs in Pears and Appletters
Bananagrams added quickly to their stable with a couple of new fruity letter based games, Appletters and Pairs In Pears. Each comes in their own unique pouch, appropriately looking like apples and pears. While the game concept isn’t new, what is are the brand new color instructions with ways to engage kids and extra challenges to pump up the play when everyone gets good at it.
Appletters is about building a “word worm.” Each player takes a turn at using the letters they have drawn to add a word to the board. The trick is that you may only use the letters at the beginning or end of a word to build off of. Two and three letter words are able to be used, which makes the game easy for even beginning readers to build off of. Here’s a look at the board my 9 year old and I put together while playing.
Players can add the challenge of “Apple Pie” by giving others extra tiles if they make a word related to apples, such as core, stem, pie, et cetera. “Apple Turnover” is another option where a player can take one of the last words played, remove it from the board and give the tiles back to the original player, filling in the space with their own new word. I’d call that being a “rotten apple” but you use that term for something else in the game.
Appletters isn’t for the youngest (and obviously the tiles are a choking hazard for the under 3 set), but for children who are in that kindergarten or first grade spot of learning reading, they could easily play a beginner version of this game. Even better is that it is a fairly short game. A 2 player game starts with just 15 tiles and we never have needed to pick up any extras, so a game is over in 10 minutes.
Pairs In Pears, Because Reading Should Not Be a Requirement For Letter Based Fun!
Pairs in Pears, in contrast, can be used for even younger children. The tiles are significantly larger in size than Bananagrams or Appletters and are also in various patterns. The directions detail 4 different activities geared for pre-readers, including simply arranging the letters alphabetically, searching out particular letters and grouping letters by pattern. Beginner readers are given a different set of activities, including matching word pairs using different patterns or creating rhyming letter sets. All the beginner reader activities do an excellent job of reinforcing early literacy skills of letter and word recognition and rhyming, all crucial for a child to successfully learn how to read fluently. None of these activities are competitive based (although a clever adult could make them so).
However, for older more competitive kids and adults, Pairs in Pears offers two other games. One is to race to create grids out of 2 intersecting words. The other game also includes creating word grids, but uses a point system.
The Bananagrams Fruit Stand of Games Makes Word Games Fun For The Whole Family
With these new directions and game options, hopefully even more people will discover these great word games. They are fun and easy to travel with, the packaging making them a cinch to just toss into a bag. The tiles are solidly made and the pouches are extremely sturdy. The tiles could be used to make up all sorts of other games if anyone is so inclined. Pick up Pairs in Pears if your kids are still quite little and build them up to the other games over time and soon no one in the house will be a loser for playing with words.
Visit Bananagrams To Learn More.
Pairs In Pears, Ages 3+, 1-4 Players, $14.95 at Amazon.Com
Appletters, Ages 5+, 1-4 Players, $14.95 at Amazon.Com
|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”
Have a Question/Comment? Let Us Know!