Some time ago (wow, I've just been to look and it was all the way back in 2011 !), I took part in a fun Bananagrams blogger challenge, using the fruity letters game to come up with an interlocking jumble of words relating to the theme of the week. It was great fun, so when an email popped into my inbox telling me about a new children's version called My First Bananagrams, I was intrigued.
I learnt that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the creation of the original Bananagrams game and, in response to customer feedback, they have released the new children's version which uses colourful lower-case letter tiles. As the game targets younger players, it comes in a ripening green pouch !
The game comes with a selection of ideas for ways to play that will become more complex as your child's word skills and reading ability progress. Some of the easiest challenges are spelling out your name, putting the letters of the alphabet in order, finding matching letters or choosing a letter and finding words that start with that letter. There are 10 curriculum-based mini games for early learners, as well as word game challenges which grow in difficulty.
This culminates in a simplified version of the classic Bananagrams game that sees players racing to complete their own word grid. It's very similar to a points-free version of Scrabble with the added fun of trying to be the quickest to place all your tiles. Pierre enjoyed a more docile solitaire version, trying to put together as many words as possible that he could spot in the jumble of letters. As you can see in the pictures, he was really concentrating and thinking about the letters that he would need and where he could fit them on his grid.
Looking at the photos, I've just realised that we didn't show off the special new double-tiles with vowel-teams, word families and digraphs, which are very useful for learning to read and spell. You can spot one of the "qu" tiles just above Pierre's word grid on the left. We also enjoyed playing a Bananagrams version of I-Spy where I looked around the room, chose something that I could see, then presented the letters that made up the word in a jumble for Pierre to find. Another fun game of our own invention was Letter Change, spelling out a word then adding, taking away or swapping a letter to make a new word.
As he's bilingual, Pierre also wanted to show that he could do a word grid in French too.
It's a simple game that is very versatile because it can be used in lots and lots of different ways, either all by yourself or with the rest of the family. The suggested word challenges are a great place to start, but you can also make up your own mini games as you go along.
RRP : £14.99
Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.