Play Mancala

What You Need:

  • Egg carton
  • Two small bowls or boxes
  • 48 beads, coins, seeds, or other small objects

What You Do:

  1. Give the beads, coins, or other objects to your child, and have him place four objects in each trough of the egg carton.
  2. Have her place one small bowl or box at each narrow end of the egg carton. These start out empty.
  3. The game is played with two players, and the object of the game is to capture as many beads (or other objects) as you can.
  4. To play, choose who goes first with a quick round of rock-paper-scissors. The first player picks up the beads from any trough on his side and carries them clockwise, dropping one bead in each subsequent trough. The bowl or box to that player’s right—called his store—also gets a bead dropped in it. Each player skips the opposing player's store.
  5. The player’s turn is over unless the last bead he drops lands in his store. If it does, the player gets another turn, starting from wherever he wants. Once the player’s turn is over, the opposing player gets a turn.
  6. Whenever a player lands a bead in an empty trough, he gets to collect the opposing player's beads in the trough opposite the one he landed in. The opponent's beads and his last bead get placed in his store.
  7. Play continues in this way until one player is out of beads on his side. He then gets to collect the opposing player’s remaining beads. The player with the most beads in his bowl or box at the end of the game, wins.

Since the first player sometimes has an advantage in Mancala, make sure to alternate who goes first when you play. Keep the game board and beads together by shutting the egg carton tightly and storing it that way while you aren’t playing.

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