Hangman is a great way for kids to have some cooperative fun and practice spelling and critical thinking. But I've always thought that traditional hangman is too morbid. Drawing a little man on a gallows is too negative for school time games (and it can be a sensitive issue, depending on the ethnic history of our students.)
Happy Hangman plays just like traditional hangman, but instead of drawing a body part for each wrong guess, players pop a balloon. When all eight balloons are popped, the opponent loses. If they figure out the word in fewer than eight guesses, they win, and happy hangman floats happily away.
This PDF contains two variations of the game.
1. A black and white version in different sizes. These can be given to students so they can play together with each other.
2. A color version that can be printed and used for a whole-class, teacher-led version of the game on an overhead or ELMO.
Players can pop a balloon by simply putting a dot in it. Or they can write the wrong-guess letter in the balloon. I have also provided an alphabet for crossing off guessed letters. If you want your students to get more practice writing letters, there is an option without the alphabet - they have to jot down the guessed letters on the page.
You will also find a color version of the game board, a You Win board, and the Try Again board. I use the color versions when we play together as a class using the Elmo. I put the game board in a sheet protector and write on it during game-play. If students win, I swap in the You Win page. If they lose, I swap in the try again page. It is low-tech, but it works, and they get a kick out of it. (The same technique could be used with overhead transparencies, too).