We play this same game simply by using the letters from a Scrabble game I got at the thrift store for $1. My kids love it, so unless you "need" the banana pouch to store your letters, just go buy a used Scrabble game. How the game is played: Lay all letters out showing blank side. Each players picks 7 letters & begins to make their own crossword puzzle. As soon as someone has used all their letters, they say "Take 2!" Which means everyone has to take 2 more letters. As soon as a person has used all their letters again, they say ,"Take 2!". This goes on until all the letters are used up or you establish a time limit. We call the game "Take 2" & have been playing it since before the invention of Bananagrams. It is highly educational & very fun. My kids who play range in age from 7-19 & I play with them, helping the 7 yr old so he can keep up. You could also have younger kids take only 1 letter when everyone else is taking 2 so they can keep up.
No, each person does not need his or her own banana. Part of the fun is seeing who ends up with the most "q"s or "j"s and how they manage to use them! We challenge ourselves to not just use the letters but to make the longest words we can. We also try to make solid blocks of letters-- my younger daughter is an expert at that!