Friday, 5 June 2015

Spelling Strategies: Bananagrams

I've never played Scrabble.  I like reading, I like words, but for some reason Scrabble has just never appealed.  When we moved back to France, I was looking for games that I could play with Puce that would help us with spelling; Bananagrams was getting good reviews on Amazon so I ordered it.

When it arrived, I fell in love.  Finally, games makers had come up with a container for a game that is useful, sturdy and doesn't take up much room (essential when you live in a tiny flat!).  Not only that but the tiles feel solid rather than little bits of flimsy plastic.

Despite all this, Puce and I didn't quite get into it.  So the lovely banana bag sat in the games box for nearly two years, completely neglected.

It took my sister in Scotland becoming a Scrabble fan to get us into Bananagrams, which is admittedly a strange route to take.  A visit to Scotland and a Bananagrams pouch as a housewarming gift suddenly had the whole family round the kitchen table.  At midnight we decided we really ought to stop...after one more round.

That was the first of many heated games.  "Heated" because for some reason Mr R (a native French speaker) keeps beating us all, which has caught everyone off guard and made me very suspicious that his English level might be a lot better than he's been letting on all these years...We initially answered his questions of "is this a word in English", but quickly stopped helping him as he didn't need it!

The way the game works is that you really play against yourself, making your own crossword puzzle, constantly changing letters round to use them all up.  Back in our flat in Lyon, France, we play in either English or French (although Mr R grumbles that the letters aren't suited to French - ie, he's not winning as much), which means that Puce hears both me and Mr R asking if this or that is a real word, how do you spell it, can I add this tile, etc...She sees that we're all learning and asking questions which in turn has had a very positive impact on her enjoyment.    Puce either plays herself or in a team with a grown-up or alternatively she's the one who "Looks in the Book", which means she's in charge of checking words in the dictionary if we're unsure.    It's a win-win situation as she's talking about spelling, having fun and using a dictionary!  It's a bilingual parenting dream come true!

Needless to say, there are now Bananagrams in our flat in Lyon, both my sister's and my parents' houses in Scotland and the Spanish version on its way back to Colombia in my brother's suitcase!

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