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Word A Melon Review by Karen WaideBananagrams
845 Allens Avenue
Providence, R.I. 02905
We received a fun, new word-making game named Word A Melon from Bananagrams. I had heard of Bananangrams before, in fact, I have been wanting to try out their original game for ages because I am a huge fan of word-building games. When I learned they had this intriguing new game, I was quite excited to try it out with my children, especially my youngest son who is six years old. I figured it would give us some quality one-on-one mommy time while helping him work on his reading skills.
Word A Melon comes with everything you need for game-play packaged in a watermelon-slice shaped carrying case. The game tray is folded up inside the zippered pouch with the instructions for the game folded around it. Once you unfold the twelve-inch long oval tray, you will find the 60 circular letter chips stored in a small plastic zippy bag, plus the unique six-sided die. There is even a slot for the die to be set in. The die only has the numbers three, four, and five, all of which are represented twice. Along with each number, the correct amount of seeds are illustrated on each side of the die. The letter chips are pink on one side, and black with white letters on the reverse. These are meant to resemble watermelon seeds, which are to be placed, pink side up, in the 56 holes on the whole-watermelon shaped tray. When you flip them around during play, it looks like seeds in the watermelon.
There are three different versions of the game that can be played. We usually played the basic game, which has three levels of difficulty.
The goal of all versions of the game is to form the longest word possible during your turn, so you finish the game with the most “seeds.” Prior to play you are to take out four of the letter tiles. For a normal game you take out any random letters. I usually play the easier game with my son, so we take out the letters X, J, Z, and Q. In the most difficult version you are to remove the A, E, S, and T. Once the letters have been set aside, we flip the tiles over, mix them around, and place them on the holes. They sort of just balance on top, so at times they will flip over accidentally. This isn’t a big deal, we just flip it back over. Once the game board is set, it is time to play.
In the basic game you take turns rolling the die and flipping over the number of tiles that is shown on the die. The player will call out the word they find, take the letters, and place them in front of themselves, forming the word that was found. The tiles that weren’t used are flipped back over, which is what makes this more than just a word-building game, as it helps to be able to remember where you saw the different letters. Play continues until no more words can be made by the remaining tiles.
This version is played the same way, except the tiles that don’t get used to create a word during each turn are left letter side up, giving you more letters to work with during the next roll of the die. The benefit is there is a chance to form longer words; however, this takes away from the memory aspect of the game.
This version is a bit more challenging and competitive. Players still take turns rolling the die and turning the seed tiles over. However, every player has the opportunity to call out a word. The first person who yells the longest word gets to keep the seeds. I would say this is better played with players with close to the same ability, as it would be frustrating for younger children who can’t see the words as fast and who can only form smaller words.
Lastly, the instructions suggest the “fruitful tip” of combining Word-A-Yellin’ with Letter-Up.
What did we think of Word A Melon?
We love this game! It is so much fun, and it doesn’t take too long to play through it. Though if you keep rolling threes, or flipping over letters that don’t form a word, it may take a bit longer. I like that there are different ways to make it challenging for older children, but it can be played with those just learning to read and form words. As long as a child knows their letter sounds and knows how to put them together to form words, they should be able to play.
My son did need some guidance at times. For example, I would give him suggestions on which letter to try starting a word with in order to help him find words. It is a little different than regular reading as the letters are arranged randomly on the tray, unlike how a child would be used to viewing words. I would say children younger than the recommended six years old could play, as long as the child knows their sounds and the opportunity is given to remove the letters from the tray to allow the child to manipulate them in order to see what words can be formed. Though you do have to keep in mind these are small circular tiles and a die which are a choking hazard.
Another benefit I found is that children will also increase their vocabulary. As they attempt to make words they may have to be told, “No, that is not a word,” or they may accidentally form a word they weren’t aware of, giving the parent (or an older child) the chance to explain what the word means.
Word A Melon is definitely a game I recommend, both for its entertainment value and the educational benefits. You can purchase it from Amazon for $19.99.
- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018