Seesaw (Instead of Hangman)


The game of Hangman is a simple pen-and-paper game in which the first player chooses a phrase or word and draws a line representing each unknown letter. The second player then guesses one letter at a time. If the letter is part of the word or phrase, the first player writes it in the appropriate space(s). If not, the first player draws gallows. For each incorrect guess, the first player draws a part of a man. If there are seven incorrect guesses, the completed picture of a hanged man forms, and the first player wins. If the second player guesses the word or phrase before the drawing is complete, they win.

The game is wonderful for developing spelling and social skills, but the resulting image is violent. I suggest drawing a picture of two people on a seesaw or teeter-totter instead. The first part of the drawing is the fulcrum below the seesaw. Step two is the seesaw board. Step three is the handles. Step four is the heads. Step five is the bodies. Step six is the arms, and step seven is the legs. As with the original game, facial details can be added as extra steps.

With this version of the game, the players enjoy the fun and benefits of the original Hangman but with a more positive image.

There is another option: drawing a snowman. In his article, A Politically Correct Version of Hangman, Greg Harrison suggests using a snowman for this spelling game. His article includes lesson plans for use with grade four classes. In his version, a large circle is drawn for the first incorrect answer. This is followed by two smaller spheres, sticks for arms, a top hat, two eyes, and a sad face, for a total of nine steps. There can be seven to nine guesses depending on the complexity of the face.

Harrison, Greg. “A Politically Correct Version of Hangman.” Lesson Planet, 19 March 2023,


Dr. Lorrie Welch
Dr. Lorrie Welch has taught high school math and science since 2003. Before that time, she worked as a chemical engineer receiving her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1999. She currently works at Seycove Secondary in North Vancouver, BC, teaching chemistry and calculus. In February 2019, Global TV made a commercial about her in their Inspiring Teachers series.

This article is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2023 issue.

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