Wednesday, May 30, 2012

so much fun


My family is made up of very competitive bananagrams players. Probably too competitive. But we love it. We love the challenge. We love the brain test. We love the adrenaline when someone yells PEEL fourteen times in a row.

So last christmas, my brother Rob had the best gift idea for my mom. He made BIG BANANAGRAMS. Each tile is now 12"x12".

Of course my brother bit off more than he could chew, so he didn't finish painting all of the letters for Christmas. What better time to finish this amazing gift? Mother's day. Almost 6 months later.

But we are all so glad he finished. This has been one of the best ways to spend an afternoon. Here we are in my mom's backyard.



Now, you still get the mental challenge from the original game, with the added bonus of some exercise! And the best part? You don't even realize you are exercising. Well, until the game is over and you are covered in sweat. 





'ivy' by the ivy

Next, we are taking them to the beach!

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Update: This post has gone completely viral on pinterest and I'm so happy that you have clicked through. I hope you'll stick around! When I originally wrote this post, I didn't include a tutorial. So many people have asked in the comments about how we did this, and I have been answering them, but I thought it might also be helpful to put that info here, too! 

My brother cut 144 'tiles' from a big sheet of masonite. This material is very durable, doesn't bend and it can hold up to different elements. For those who want to make their own, we recommend luan because it's lighterweight. We love what we have, but if we knew then what we know now, we would have made them with luan. It really makes a difference when you are carrying those tiles to and from. We have ours in a wooden crate and don't move them all that much- probably because they are heavy!

Rob cut the masonite into 12 inch squares with a table saw. Then he hand painted the letters. We are a family of artists so it was easiest for my brother to just paint them himself, but if you don't have a steady hand or good handwriting, there are other options. Several people have left me comments saying that they used vinyl stickers or cut letters out with their cricut.

Here's the breakdown of how many tiles you will need for each letter.

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: T, R
11: O
12: I
13: A
18: E


Also, we use our tiles for bananagrams because it's fast and exciting, but you could definitely use these for scrabble or even boggle! 

Again, thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and those who have left comments! They really do make my day. I hope y'all will continue to follow along!

82 comments:

  1. My grandson has learning disabilities both auditory and visual...taking this idea to his school. Why can't learning be fun! Also why not a math type game with add, subtract, multiply and divide....divide the square with a number on top half, dots indicating the number like dominos on lower half....one step futher incorporate color like 1-10 red, 11-20 green etc. Or even numbers one color and odd numbers another. My mind is spinning. Thanks.

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  2. My grandson has learning disabilities both auditory and visual...taking this idea to his school. Why can't learning be fun! Also why not a math type game with add, subtract, multiply and divide....divide the square with a number on top half, dots indicating the number like dominos on lower half....one step futher incorporate color like 1-10 red, 11-20 green etc. Or even numbers one color and odd numbers another. My mind is spinning. Thanks.

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  3. Hi Mimi! That is a great idea!! It's fun, interactive and you're still learning all at the same time! Thanks for the comment, and I'd love to see pictures.

    all best.

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  4. Are the letters just done on paper...these look sturdy. :)

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  5. Hi Melissa! They are actually made with masonite which makes them very durable. The downside to that is that they are quite heavy to carry around in stacks. Individually, they are fine. If we were to do this project again, we would probably go with luan, a lighter weight plywood. Good luck! :)

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    1. Hi Lark! This looks like such a great game - thanks for sharing it. I want to use it as an icebreaker game for a volleyball tournament with 6 teams. I'm just worried about the amount of ground space I need. Could I make the letters 4" x 4"? And if I use the heavier masonite like you used, do you think the letters would stay flat on the ground? I don't want them to blow or get knocked out of sequence easily. I'm thinking if I reduced them to this size, I would need about 55 to 60 sq feet. Does that sound right to you? Or maybe I should make them 6" x 6"?

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    2. Hi Kathy! I think they would be fine at 4x4, but 6x6 would work, too. And for the amount of room, the bigger the area, the less you have to cram. It's nice to do these outside because you can keep growing when needed. I think the volleyball girls will love this. Thanks for your comment, and have fun!!

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  6. how many letters do you make of each??

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    1. Hi Teenage Years! Thanks for your interest and comment! There are 144 "tiles." And I went ahead and found out how many of each letter you need.
      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: T, R
      11: O
      12: I
      13: A
      18: E

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  7. What material are the tiles made of? This is the coolest Idea!

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    1. Hi Spencer! Thanks for your comment! They are made of masonite, but this material gets pretty heavy when you start carrying the tiles in stacks. If we were to make them again, we would go with luan, a lighter weight plywood :)

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  8. Love this idea! I have one more question (because most of them were already answered. lol) How exactly did you get the letters on there? Was it painted? And did you use a stencil or just free hand them??? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Kari! Thanks for your comment! The letters were just handpainted. It's easier, no stencils!

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  9. I have not heard of bannagram? What are the rules?

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  10. I have not heard of bannagram? What are the rules?

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    1. Here are the rules- http://www.toycrossing.com/bananagrams/rules.shtml

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  11. This is amazing!! Thank you so much for the inspiration - My hubby LOVES bananagrams so I'd like to do this with all our family for his 30th this year. Were you able to find precut 12" by 12" squares or did you have to cut them out? I like the idea of a light plywood but am not confident cutting them all out one by one!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! I am so glad you are inspired :) My brother did cut the squares himself using a table saw. You could probably find the squares precut, but I'm guessing they would be more expensive. Good luck!!

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    2. Thanks so much - I'll give it a shot!

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    3. I've just purchased the sheets of plywood (pre-painted white)and my dad is helping me cut them into 26cm squares tomorrow. Rather than the mammoth job of painting, I've just got a reasonable quote from a sign-writer for precut vinyl stickers - so hopefully these babies will be weatherproof for a few years! THanks for the inspiration - I love how happy the golden retriever is in your photos!

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    4. Great idea with the vinyl stickers!! And thanks again Michelle for letting me know how this has inspired you to make your own set! And yes, Solly just wanted to play right along with us!

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    5. Finally finished the bananagrams and they were a huge hit! Would love to share a pic with you but not sure how?

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    6. Hey! This is great to hear! I'd love to see your finished pieces! You can email me at larksummerlin@gmail.com

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    7. Hey! So I only just saw your response! (Your post popped up on my Pinterest news feed again and prompted me to check your blog again) - Have just emailed you through some photos!

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  12. This is really cool! it has also given me an idea for giant scrabble. :)

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Yeah, scrabble would definitely work, too!

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  13. How many can play at one time with the amount of letters you used?

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    1. Hi Whit! The rules for bananagrams says 2-8 players, but when we play outside like this, we do teams. This makes it fun because someone can be the runner to get a new tile when "peel" is yelled and the others can stay and make sense of all the letters! I think this day, we had 3 people on each team, but more or less would work, too.

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  14. I love Bananagrams and this idea is awesome! We will be working with a group of eighteen 22&23 year olds this summer. We have to have ideas to keep them entertained for several hours a day for almost three weeks. So I will definitely make these, we have lots of open space so it will be perfect! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

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    1. Thanks Nona for your comment! I think this will be perfect for them. Have fun!

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  15. I absolutely love Bananagrams! I bought it for my husband's stocking last Christmas after finding it in a toy store. It was the perfect size and we like games, so I thought, what the heck! I had NO idea what we were getting ourselves into. We played non-stop for hours on Christmas day when he opened it up. We played so often that we had to start doing categories (food & drink, animals, etc) to slow ourselves down. Giant Bananagrams seems like a perfect next step to up our game. Thanks for posting!!!!

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    1. Thanks Amber! Sounds like we would get along really well! Another way to alter the game is to put restrictions on word size: so only 4 letter words, or 5, or 6.... Much harder! Have fun!

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  16. Oh my goodness! This is awesome! I'm the self-proclaimed Bananagrams champion of the world and I can't get anyone to play with me because I'm so competitive. I would love this giant version! Does he sell them????

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    1. Hi Bonita! You and my mom sound very similar!! And I talked to my brother and he is interested in selling them!

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    2. Hi saw this as I was browsing HGTV Website. Was wondering how much your brother would sell these for. I have a future son in law I would love to have some for his Birthday.

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  17. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Hey there, Was just wondering what was the thickness of the luan wood used. Will start making a set come monday... Wayyyyy to cool

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    1. Hi Joel, we used masonite that was probably 1/4 inch- it's pretty thin. But I was recommending that people used luan so they won't be as heavy :)

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  19. Got here via A Holy Experience. This is a FABULOUS idea!

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! Hope you'll stick around!

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  20. Hi, this is a wonderful idea. I work with individuals with cognitive delays and this looks like a super fun way to learn. For the first attempt I'm going to get paper plates invite people to paint the letters. Thanks so much for sharing this great idea!

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    1. Hi Midge! That's a great alternative :) and I think this will definitely help with cognitive delays. Have fun!

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  21. Hi, this is a wonderful idea. I work with individuals with cognitive delays and this looks like a super fun way to learn. For the first attempt I'm going to get paper plates invite people to paint the letters. Thanks so much for sharing this great idea!

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  22. Saw this on Pinterest-what an awesome idea!

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  23. I'm making them this weekend for a Father's Day party. I have walkout with a two story deck. I will pair some of the older individuals with younger and have them call the letters, words, and locations from the deck to join in the fun!

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    1. Hi Miss Stuckey! I hope everyone at your party had fun :) Thanks for commenting!

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  24. This is great!! Thanks for the idea! I used 9.5" tiles because then I could use only 3 sheets instead of 5 of hardboard. Still really heavy, I see what you mean! I also got the 6" vinyl letter stickers from Officemax and they work really well.

    My question is: how are you storing them? Do you have a big box or bag?

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    1. Oh Mel, this is great to hear! I'm so glad someone else was inspired to make a set of their own :) And for storing them, we have some wooden crates that we carry them around in. We don't put them all in one though, because you couldn't lift it! Thanks for commenting, and have fun!

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  25. This is great! I have 4 girls (ages 6-10) at home for the summer. I think I may make some of these (maybe out of cardboard) just to keep there minds active!

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    1. Thanks Tiffani! I'm sure they will love it!

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  26. hi Lark, This games sounds like a blast. I can't wait to take it to the beach with my seven, very competitive, siblings. We always take the bocce ball, crochet set, horse shoes and corn hole but this will be something completely different for us. Of course we are all very competitive with the Washington Post Sunday crosswords so I think I can safely say they will love this game. Thanks so much for posting your idea.
    By the way I think I may know your mother. If not you look exactly like one of my dearest friends from childhood. If your mothers name is Lori please give her my love and hope to see her one day soon. Ruth Ellen

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    1. Hi Ruth Ellen! Yes, my mom's name is Lori. She was so excited when I called her and told her about your comment! We were blown away that you made that connection just from my picture! Take care.

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  27. I'm thinking about using discount vinyl flooring tiles and vinyl stick on-letters. Any thoughts on pros or cons?

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    1. Hi Paula, I think these would do just fine!

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    2. I have used vinyl stick on letters on plywood tiles and they are turning out great. A word of warning though that the vinyl stickers are very expensive. My first two quotes were $4 for each letter so nearly $600!

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  28. Thanks for the inspiration! I made mine 7x7 out of cardboard. I used a heavy duty paper cutter and flat sheets of cardboard. I cut my letters out of black cardstock on my silhouette and used heavy duty spray adhesive. Hopefully they hold up! :) http://momandtheblonds.blogspot.com/2013/08/yard-scrabble-boggle.html

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    1. Hi Shelbey! I love that you made it work for you! Have fun and thanks for commenting!

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  29. I just found you! I love the scrabble lawn game! Amazing project.
    I featured you in my Crafty Christmas round up.
    Here's the link:
    http://seeshellspace.blogspot.com/2013/08/christmas-wishes-in-august.html

    Hugs!
    Shelley

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    1. Thanks Shelley for the feature! :)

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  30. Hello there. How to do this game?

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  31. This is beyond awesome. Definitely making for school!!!

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    1. Thanks Emily! I'm sure y'all will love it!

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  32. This is beyond awesome. Definitely making for school!!!

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  33. I think we are going to give this a try :-) My 16 year old daughter has a chance to go to Australia/New Zealand as a Student Ambassador with People to People during the summer of 2014... I think we may do this as a fun and unique fundraiser!! Maybe even make a few sets to sell or give as prizes:-) Thanks for the inspiration :-)

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    1. Thanks Tapratt! I'm glad this inspired you. And I think a fundraiser is a great idea!

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  34. I did this with 1/8" luan and made the squares 8" x 8". I used 6" vinyl letters which made the lettering process super easy!

    However, 144 tiles still weighed almost 40 pounds! I solved that problem by crafting a carrying case for them. Here is a pic...it's not great, but hopefully gives you a rough idea. I have yet to add the leather shoulder strap. The bar locks the tiles in place for travel.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/efel2xjyckaejmu/Bananagrams.jpg

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    1. Piaresquared, they looks great! That carrying case is pretty handy, too!

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  35. Does anyone have a set in Edmonton, AB I could borrow for my wedding?

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  36. This looks like so much fun! I've recently started homeschooling my kids and am we'll be trying this. Love anything to get them away from the pencil and paper.

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    1. We really love it!! I am so glad that this post has inspired you to make your own set! Thanks for commenting, Sandi!

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  37. I love this! Could please feature it (one photo and link) on the Kids Activities Blog?

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    1. Hi Carla! Of course you can feature it! Thanks for asking!

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  38. Great idea! I'm making these for a family reunion this summer. I've used 12x12 vinyl floor tiles that I picked up at the Dollar Store, and the kids will be stenciling the letters.

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    1. Jean, thank you so much for commenting! I love when people are inspired to make their own! Have fun!

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    2. These were a hit at the family reunion! The young ones were collecting the letters and the adults were making the words.

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  39. Such a great idea! Thank you for sharing this. I was inspired so bought 12x12 cardboard squares online to make a set for my outdoor wedding reception. I didn't want to paint or spray paint them all due to drying times. I found a "Magnum Sharpie" at the local craft store and a set of stencils. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and it has only taken about an hour. Just an idea for those not wanting to paint! I do think I might need one more Sharpie though as it seems to be slowly fading.

    Here is the pen on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sharpie-Magnum-Black-Permanent-Marker/dp/B0005KC7A6

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