Family Games – Play Boardless Scrabble

Boardless Scrabble is a great family-friendly version of the popular board game. Because it's boardless, and because all players compete and participate at the same time, the game moves quickly. No more snoozing 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 so much more fun to teach or reinforce spelling and vocabulary.

All you need is the bag of tiles from a Scrabble game, a pad of paper and a pencil. Here's how to play:

  1. Place the Scrabble tiles face down in the middle of the table.
  2. Each player picks seven tiles. Someone begins the game by calling, "Go!"
  3. Working as quickly as possible, players try to use up all seven tiles to create their own little Scrabble puzzle.
  4. The moment a player has used all his tiles, he shouts, "Go!" and everyone must grab one more tile.
  5. Throughout the game, players continue adding to their Scrabble layouts, rearranging them as often as needed.
  6. Once all the tiles have been taken, the first person to use all his tiles and complete his puzzle is the winner.
  7. Score the game just like in regular Scrabble. For example, if a player uses "X" for "fox" (vertically) and ( "taxi") horizontally, she will count the points for "X" twice. Deduct points for any unused tiles.

Tips and Variations

  • As the tile pile begins to dwindle, try to work with smaller parts of your puzzle rather than attempt to rework the entire arrangement. Remember that if the game ends before your puzzle is finished, unused tiles will count against your score!
  • Decide in advance your rules for the game. Will you allow foreign words? Obscure words? Proper nouns?
  • With mixed ages, you might allow younger children to use proper nouns.
  • Combine the tiles from several Scrabble sets to make a bigger pile on the table. You can often find old sets at garage sales. If they're missing a few pieces, it does not matter for Boardless Scrabble.
  • Give younger ones a handicap by doubling their final scores.
  • Or, do not count unused tiles against final scores.
  • Or, do not keep score at all. Simply admire one another's puzzles and best words!