Do you know how to play Hangman? You’ll learn in in a minute. It’s a classic word game and for a good reason.
Essentially, you have to guess the word that your opponent has in mind. If you guess correctly within a number of turns, you win. If not, then your opponent wins.
Why playing hangman?
Short answer? Because it’s fun to think of a word that your opponent will neeeever guess. Are long words harder than short words? Do you start guessing vowels or consonants? It’s fun to see kids starting to develop a strategy. My 8yo noticed that I started the game by asking the same letters, so he was choosing very unusual words. Cheeky monkey!
Benefits of playing Hangman
You will actively search your brain for words, a great workout! You actively use your vocabulary (na your kid’s!), and you’re determined to win (right?), so the game becomes harder and more interesting all the time!
There’s a great motivation to spell words correctly. If ‘the word’ is not correctly spelled it will be nearly impossible to guess.. However frustrating, try to be gentle on the young learners and make it an opportunity to learn 😉 So embrace those “freinds”, “colums”, “buisness” and “suprises”, because after misspelling them once at Hangman, that spelling mistake will never happen again!
Who can play Hangman?
Anyone who can read can play – easy as that! Just don’t expect a first grader to guess a word like egregious or convalesce..
It’s good to have some ground rules. For example: no names (persons, countries, cities) and no expressions, such as “Yeah!”
Choose whichever set of rules you like, and stick to them.
The goal of the game is to guess the secret word before the constructions of the gallows is completed. If the bandit accomplishes this, he wins. If not, the judge wins.
Instructions for playing hangman
Preparation: Choose a judge and a bandit
Admittedly, I would not know you you would call the players. I suppose, within the Medieval setting, one would say that an executioner and a witch are the key players around the gallows. But I don’t like the sound of these, so I choose milder words (a cartoon setting almost): a judge and a bandit. It does not affect the essence of the game, although it completely scrabbles historic accuracy.. Sorry!
Step 1. The judge selects a word
The judge dives into his vocabulary to come up with a suitable word. We always play by heart (we don’t write down the word), but it may be wise to jot it down when dealing with competitive players ; )
The judge keeps this word a secret, and the Bandit should guess this word.
Step 2: The judge reveals the length of the word
The judge counts the number of letters in of his word. He then draws a number of dashes, corresponding to the number of letters in the word.
For example, the word ‘treehouse’ has 8 letters. The judge then draws 8 dashes on the paper worksheet.
Step 3: the bandit guesses a letter
Now it’s the turn of the bandit. He chooses a letter hoping that is it part of the word. If guessed correctly, the judge writes it on the piece of paper, on ALL relevant (correct) positions.
Continuing with the ‘treehouse’ example: when the bandit guesses the letter ‘e’, the judge writes down the letter ‘e’ on positions 3, 4 and 8: _ _ e e _ _ _ _ e
At home, we have the habit of writing down the alphabet (actually, we use the cheatsheet ; ) and draw a circle around every letter that was guessed correctly. This way you can easily keep track of the letters. You don’t need to do this, as you can spot the ‘correct letters’ in the word, but it just makes things a little easier. Feel free to strike them through, make doodles or leave them blank – do as you please – there’s no Hangman Police as far as I’m aware!
Step 4: write down correct letter(s)
If the bandit correctly guesses a letter, the judge is obliged to write down this letter at the correct positions. If the letter appears more than once, he must write them ALL down, at the correct positions. This way he slowly reveals his secret word.
Step 5: Wrong guess?
When the bandit’s guess is incorrect he is slowly punished: the construction of the gallows begins.
Step 6: continue to guess..
The bandit continues to guess, and the judge indicates whether his guesses are correct or incorrect and handles according to steps 4 and 5.
You can draw hangman yourself, but if you’d like a nicely designed 6-on-a-page version, you can download them when you sign up for my newsletter! If you print them double sided, that’s 12 games on one sheet of paper! Honestly, I take multiple pages with me on every single trip.
Beginners tend to play safe by guessing vowels, or consonants that are commonly used in the English language (or your mother tongue). And this certainly works to an extent. If your opponent is a smart, he will soon catch on and decide on more unusual words though. But hey, that’s party of the game!
Alternative ways of playing
- Decrease the number of guesses, making you work harder.. For example, you can already draw the gallows before you start.
- Restrict the vocabulary (good for young players) to a theme, for example: food, sports or countries.
- Play in another language. This works best when both players have the same level of understanding of the language/vocabulary for this to work, or when one person is teaching the other. Is your child and a classmate taking Spanish lessons? Or do you speak multiple languages at home? Off you go!
- Use a maximum number of letters, say 3 or 4. Surprisingly, short words can be quite hard to guess (in Dutch at least..). I suppose this is because you have fewer clues per word.
- Change the drawing. I like the idea of turning the game into a ‘cat and mouse’, where the mouse is trying to outwit the cat.
- If you don’t like the Medieval setting, you can play the game using a different drawing. Just keep in mind that the new drawing has the same number of steps (i.e. 10 steps) from start to finish. It would be a good idea to make a faint sketch of the drawing, so your opponent knows how many turn he has left. And if you’re an absolute null at drawing, you can always just count to 10..
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