How to Play Bananagrams

Two Methods:Playing the Traditional WayPlaying Cooperatively

Bananagrams is a fast-paced, competitive game with similarities to both Scrabble and Boggle. The game progresses without turns as in Boggle, while each player builds his or her own interlocking, Scrabble-type crossword.

Method 1
Playing the Traditional Way

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    Unzip the banana-shaped pouch and dump out all of the tiles onto a flat surface such as the floor or a table.
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    Flip all of the tiles face down, so no letters are visible.
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    The number of tiles each player takes is determined by the number of people playing the game. For 2-4 players, draw 21 tiles each. For 5-6 people, draw 15 tiles each. For 7-8 people, draw 11 tiles each. Group the leftover tiles into a middle pile or "bunch".
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    Once everyone has counted out his or her tiles, say, "Split!" This is the signal for everyone to flip over his or her tiles.
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    Arrange your tiles into an interlocking crossword. Tiles may connect vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. The goal is to create complete words out of all your tiles.
    • Note: If you have a tile you do not wish to use, not enough vowels, too many consonants, etc., try "dumping". Place the single tile you are dumping back in the bunch, exclaim, "Dump!", and draw out three new tiles.
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    Once you have finished making words with all of your tiles, yell "Peel!" (It's always a good idea to double-check first to make sure all your words are valid and spelled correctly.) Everyone must draw one new tile from the bunch.
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    Work in the new tiles. Tiles can be moved, rearranged, rotated, etc. In this example, the player has a newly drawn T. By replacing the D in FOOD with the T and creating FOOT, the player was able to place the D at the end of TIE to make TIED, effectively using all of his or her tiles.
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    Continue playing in this manner until all the tiles in the bunch have been used or the number of tiles left is fewer than the amount of players. At this point the player with a finished crossword, proclaims "Bananas!" He or she is the winner!
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    Flip the tiles over, mix them up in the center of the group, draw new tiles and play again, and again, and again...

Method 2
Playing Cooperatively

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    Place all tiles face down in the middle of the table. There will be 144 lettered tiles to turn over. If you'd like to play a quicker game, take out a few of the tiles to shorten it up. But don't take out certain letters! You'll need a good combination to make the best words.
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    Give each player 7 tiles for their personal pile. Put the rest to the side (still faced down). If you are only playing with 2-3 people, feel free to increase the personal pile to 9. Each personal pile should be directly in front of the player to which they belong.
    • Some people get very picky about their letters, even if they're faced down. Let each player choose their tiles if need be.
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    Flip over the tiles and start making words in a crossword-style pattern one player at a time. If each player would like to hide their tiles, they can, but it's unnecessary. This is more about working together and getting all the tiles used than anything.
    • If you'd like, each player can help the other out, too. Player A could say, "Hey, Juan! That "S" of yours could go on the end of "BANANA." If you add that, then I can add, "SUPERB." This will make the game go much more quickly. However, if you want to have each man on his own, that's fun (and competitive) too.
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    When a player has no tiles left in their personal pile, give them 7 more tiles. If they can't go, they must skip a turn until they can. This encourages each player to tack on a letter or two to other already-formed words, making for a more exciting board.
    • To keep track of how often a player runs out, consider having them take fewer or more tiles each time. The second time they draw, they could take 8, the third time, 9. This way better, faster players are given a larger load to bare, helping out those who are just getting the hang of it.
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    Continue forming the crossword until all the tiles are gone. If you'd like, you can make it more competitive by keeping track of who had the longest words, who got rid of their tiles the fastest, or who helped out the board the most. Where do your strengths lie? How about your friends'? And remember -- have fun!


  • While it is easier to think up smaller words, longer words provide more opportunities for building.
  • Be sure to "dump" your letter far away in the pile so you don't pick it up immediately when you "peel".
  • An effective strategy is to "peel" at the highest velocity possible. An influx of new tiles may stymie your opponents!
  • Bananagrams is a great game for all ages since it focuses on arranging all the letter tiles as opposed to use of the rarer letters or word length.
  • Try creating a crossword with all the tiles!
  • You can also play themed Bananagrams, in which all the words played must relate to a central idea.
  • Try to find endings, such as -ete -ere -ate, or -ade.
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    You can also play Bananagrams with Scrabble tiles. The banana sack provides a colorful, compact way to carry around the game however.
  • With an exceptionally large group of people (more than eight) it's fun to use two bananas worth of grams in order to avoid overly short games. Of course you will get all your tiles mixed up if you choose to do so. (It's probably wise to sort them back out.) There are 144 tiles in each banana distributed like so:
    • 2: J, K, Q, X, Z
    • 3: B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y
    • 4: G
    • 5: L
    • 6: D, S, U
    • 8: N
    • 9: R, T
    • 11: O
    • 12: I
    • 13: A
    • 18: E
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    Two letter words like "QI", "IT", and "OE" are useful placeholders for letters until you can work them into a larger word.


  • "Dumping" towards the end of the game is not advised as you are likely to get a very nasty set of tiles that others have gone and dumped before you.
  • Players are not allowed to trade tiles, no matter how much they would like to.
  • Projectile shooting of other people's crosswords with tiles is also not allowed in traditional Bananagrams.

Things You'll Need

  • Table
  • Two players
  • Bananagrams or Scrabble tiles

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