Family Games – Play Scrabble without a board

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Boardless Scrabble is a great family version of the popular board game. Since there is no board and all players compete and participate at the same time, the game progresses quickly. No more naps while you wait for grandpa to make a seven letter word!

And you can use Boardless Scrabble as a pre-writing activity disguised as a game, making it much more fun to teach or reinforce spelling and vocabulary.

All you need is a bag of tiles from a Scrabble game, a pad of paper, and a pencil. This is how it is played:

  1. Place the Scrabble tiles face down in the center of the table.
  2. Each player chooses seven tiles. Someone starts the game by yelling “Let’s go!”
  3. Working as fast as possible, players try to use all seven tiles to create their own little Scrabble puzzle.
  4. By the time a player has used all of their tiles, they yell “Let’s go!” and everyone must grab one more token.
  5. Throughout the game, players continue to add to their Scrabble layouts, rearranging them as often as necessary.
  6. Once all the tiles have been taken, the first person to use all their tiles and complete their puzzle is the winner.
  7. Score the game just like normal Scrabble. For example, if a player uses “X” for “fox” (vertically) and (“taxi”) horizontally, he will count the points for “X” twice. Deduct points for any unused tokens.

Tips and Variations

  • As the tile stack begins to dwindle, try working on smaller parts of your puzzle rather than trying to rework the entire arrangement. Remember that if the game ends before you finish your puzzle, the unused tiles will count towards your score!
  • Decide your rules for the game in advance. Will it allow foreign words? Dark words? Own names?
  • With mixed ages, you can allow younger children to use proper names.
  • Combine tiles from various Scrabble games to make a bigger pile on the table. You can often find old games at garage sales. If they are missing some pieces, it doesn’t matter for Boardless Scrabble.
  • Give the younger ones a handicap by doubling their final scores.
  • However, do not count unused tiles in the final score.
  • However, do not keep score at all. Just admire the riddles and the best words of others!

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