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Sunny Spells (an alternative to hangman)

Updated: Aug 16, 2021

I recently sifted through a folder of resources that I'd 'pre-printed for later' and found some laminated travel games. One of the games was hangman.

Pre-printing things for later was a (perhaps slightly neurotic) habit that I had for years, and sometimes this oh-so-far-in-advance preparation has been helpful - having a grab and go stash of ready made resources, especially when they required a degree of prep (source, print, cut, corner, laminate, cut...) has certainly come in handy - but, equally, storing all this hopefully helpful stuff takes some serious organisational bandwidth, not to mention physical space, and sometimes I've found that what I thought would be helpful at one time is actually not aligned with some aspect of my parenting, principles, or with M's learning preferences when its window of potential relevance arrived.

This was one of those times. When I printed the hangman game template it clearly didn't cross my mind at all that this could be an any way inappropriate, or macabre...I'd have just thought "Free printable! Yay!" and delved no deeper than that. But a few years down the track and I looked at that sheet with fixed, unblinking eyes, and horrors of hindsight fast unpacking in my brain behind them.

I played this as a child, and I remember discussions deciding in advance of starting the game how the end design should look: Should the gallows have supports in the corners? Should the dead/dying stick person have a sad face? Seriously, how messed up is that?! And I thought that would be OK to play with M?! What was I thinking? Why wasn't I thinking?

This thought rich critical appropriateness appraisal can at least be taken as evidence of personal growth (hurrah!). And, as a word game, hangman is brilliant. It's just such a shame about the perilous premise of GUESS THE WORD OR THE STICK MAN GETS IT and all its variety of dark, morbid undertones (Is it a murder/lynching? Tragic misadventure/suicide? Capital punishment? Yeesh.) Fortunately, the game is not dependent on this sinister design element.

It's time hangman was hung out to dry.

I wanted to come up with an alternative to play with M that made more sense than a stick man meeting a sticky end and, after some thought, arrived at 'Sunny Spells'. This game ends not with a disturbing doodled death, but with the sun shining its light on the remaining missing letters to reveal with hidden word.

A template is available as a free download below, with a selection of word lists included...

May Sunny Spells bring your family many moments of light, non-nightmare inducing, learning enjoyment.


Sunny Spells
Download PDF • 179KB

*No stick people were harmed in the making of this blog post.

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