Hangman/House/Guess My Word

Hangman/House by Fran W.

Hangman, House, or Guess My Word is a very popular game in my household.

One player chooses a word and the other tries to guess what it is, letter by letter. 
Game boards can be purchased, but a white board or on a piece of paper can be used to play this game. If you do not want to use a ‘hangman’, call the game, “House“, or something else, and come up with a simple picture that can be made in a certain amount of misses. 

If you would like to use the “House” version: Each of the 4 sides can be built one by one, then the roof – 2 sides, a chimney (1), 2 windows – one at a time, and a door. Once the house has been built, the player’s turn is over.

How to play:
One player chooses a word and puts the amount of dashes in that word under where the picture is going to be drawn. The other player, or players, ask if a letter can be found in that word. If the letter can be found in the word, it is written on the correct dash by the person who thought of the word. If it is not in the word, then one part of the hangman or house is drawn. Play continues until all the letters have been revealed or the picture is complete, then the next player thinks of a word and the other guesses. 
Players can guess the word at any time during the game.

This game usually allows for 10 missed letters but you can make your own rules.
Tips & Suggestions
  • We use an alphabet chart or a white board to help us keep track of the letters we’ve used and still have left.
  • A dictionary/spell checker can be used to help make sure words are being spelled correctly.
  • Add extra rules gradually to keep the game interesting.
  • Give more or fewer chances to guess the word. 

Less: Hangman: Only draw the body (6 tries). House: Leave off the chimney, windows and door (6 tries).

More: Hangman: Add hands and feet (14 tries). House: Add curtains, a door knob, smoke from the chimney and tiles on the roof (14 tries).

  • Add another layer of challenge by using phrases, short sentences or words from a certain category or topic such as a holiday, time of year, animals, time period or something else.
  • We like to add a layer of math to this game by giving 1 point for every letter used in a word. If the word is guessed, the player captures that many points. If the player guesses the word wrong, the player who thought of the word gets all the points. 
  • Players should be able to drop out of the game when they are no longer interested in playing.
Natural Benefits: This language-based game can help develop: spelling skills, writing skills, reading skills, dictionary skills, alphabet/letter recognition skills, word attack skills, thinking skills, deductive reasoning and good sportsmanship. As a bonus, it is fun to play!
Natural Math Benefits: In addition to counting and adding skills, a point system encourages words with more letters. If a player is not ready to add or write numbers, then encourage them to use tally marks to keep track of their points instead. Later, points can be deducted if the player misses the word, adding the benefit of subtraction skills to the game.
The House version of this game also helps with recognizing and drawing basic shapes. The windows, door and chimney can be any shape the player wants them to be.
Online resources…
Play on line or check your app store for a version of this fun game.
ScholasticMonster Hangman – A fun version with a friendly monster.
English Grammar Online: Hangman Game – Offers a more “serious” game.
History of the game Hangman
Wikipedia: Hangman – Learn about the origins of the game and how it is played in more detail.
Games to look for in the store…
  • Mastermind Secret Search
  • Hangman – Look for board games and electronic hand-held versions.
  • Wheel of Fortune
This post is part of the Building Writing Skills series on Fran’s World of Discovery. If you are interested in reading more from this series, please use the following links:
Building Writing Skills Naturally – Offers links to activity suggestions that have many built in benefits.
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Hangman/House/Guess My Word Game By Fran W


  1. I love the take on the old hangman game. I didn't realize that you could purchase boards. I'm all about a piece of paper and drawing. We are definitely going to try your version. Thanks so much for sharing, Fran!

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