Monday, April 25, 2011

Make your own Mancala game board (and learn what mancala is) :-)

What?!?  You've never played mancala?  Where have you been?

Yeah, I had never played either until today.  But I really liked it and it was free!  Plus we learned a little culture from our future child's home country.

Mancala, according to Wikipedia, is actually a family of games that originated in ancient Ethiopia.  The game we learned how to play is one of many variations, and it's a great game to play in areas such as Africa because you don't need any equipment.  Folks can simply dig 12 holes in the dirt, gather a bunch of seeds or small rocks, and the game is on!

In our case, we used an egg carton and some dry beans.

By removing the lid and cutting it in half, we had our game board with the score cups on each side.

Now, this game is not hard to play at all, but I'm not sure I could explain it clearly.  Basically, you are picking up beans out of one of your cups and distributing them, one at a time, in the other cups in a counterclockwise motion.  The object is to get as many seeds in your score cup as you can.

A good description of how to play can be found here.  It's easier to play along while you read in order to understand what they are talking about.

My son found this video from YouTube, which is probably the easiest to follow.  This guy changes the rules a little bit to eliminate capturing the opponent's beans, which I think makes it easier for younger children to have a fair chance at beating their parents. :-)  Once you have this version down, you can try the other variations for more of a challenge.

My older kids are finally at an age where we can play games without letting them win all the time, so if you know of any other games like this (cheap and fun), I'd love to hear about them.  And don't forget to save your egg cartons!   


  1. I always wondered how to play this game!! We got one as a gift long ago and the kids just took the marbles! haha!!

  2. My son laughed when he saw your comment! That's something my kids would do.

    The game really is pretty fun, especially since I DOMINATE at it. I show no mercy.

  3. I want to make my own boardgames and found some great examples here:
    Good luck. There are good idea's how to make your own board game. Try the race board game, horse board game, lego board game, planet board game or the others.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.