The Bomb Game: A Better Way to Play Hangman

I’m assuming we all know the popular classic “hangman,” where you think of a word, write a dash for each letter on the board, then have others guess letters in an attempt to guess the whole word. Whenever they get a letter wrong, we add to our little hangman until he is, well, completely hung.

It’s a great game to practice spelling/reading and review vocabulary, but in Japan IT’S ABSOLUTELY NOT OK TO PLAY THIS IN YOUR CLASSROOM! Honestly, never play this game with your Japanese students! Let me repeat that with much more emphasis: DON’T PLAY THIS GAME IN YOUR CLASSROOM!!!!! It’s culturally taboo because students who choose to commit suicide in Japan often do so by hanging. Hangman is therefore seen as encouraging that behavior, so steer clear.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still use the game and change the visual we use. I opt for a bomb instead of a hangman, and I call this game the bomb game. Here’s how to play…

What you’ll need: a board, a marker (or chalk), and students

Step 1: Choose a word that the students are familiar with, preferably one from your most recent lesson. Write one dash on the board for each letter of that word.

Step 2: Draw a giant bomb with a string attached to it over the word. Look at the picture below to see what I mean.

bomb game

Step 3: Have students guess the letters in the word. Every time they guess one correctly, write it where that letter’s dash was. If they get one wrong, write that letter on the board and erase a part of the string attached to your bomb. If the students don’t guess the word before the string of your bomb is gone, the bomb explodes and they lose. If they DO guess it, you lose! It’s super easy and fun to play and it’s even better if you make sound effects when erasing a part of the string or when the bomb explodes.



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