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MAIN Arrow to Toy ReviewsToy Reviews Arrow to MancalaMancala

Mancala - Fun Counting Game

MancalaMancala is a counting game that uses stones, beans, or marbles. The board game is usually wooden with six small compartments on each side and one large compartment (the mancala) at each end of the board. If cost is an issue, an egg carton is perfect to use for a board and simply get two bowls to act as the mancalas.

Mancala is a two player game. There are different levels of difficulty so all ages can play and not get bored. The simplest level begins with three stones in each of the six compartments moving up to beginning with six stones in each.

This game provides older children the chance to feel good about themselves because not only are they having fun when they play but they get to help a younger one learn how to count better. It also lets them challenge themselves because of the different difficulty levels. My children love to play Mancala. On rainy days it is a great choice. They have mini mancala tournaments and then the little one takes the stones and starts putting one at a time in each compartment mimicking them. It is a wonder to my ears to hear her saying, "1,2,3,11,7,8" because I know that she was learning and having fun at the same time.

It is also portable so waits in the doctor's office aren't so awful and car rides are somewhat manageable too. Although there are alot of stones, it will still work if some get lost. Just decrease the amount in each compartment to start with. Or go for a walk with the kids and find more stones!

Object of the game : To collect the most stones in your mancala (large compartment on both ends of the board) not to be the first one out of stones.

How to play the game : The beginning level has three stones in each compartment. On your turn, choose any one of the six compartments on your side of the board. In a counter clockwise motion (left to right) work your way around the board putting a stone in each compartment, including your mancala but skipping your opponent's. If your last stone lands in your mancala you may go again. If it lands in an empty compartment on your side of the board, you may take all the stones immediately opposite plus your last stone and put them in your mancala. If your last stone ends anywhere else, it is the end of your turn. Keep going until all of your six compartments on your side are empty. The game ends at this point but that doesn't necessarily mean you win. Your opponent will get to take all remaining stones in his six compartments and deposit them in his mancala adding to his total. When you add up all your stones whoever has the most wins.

Why parents love this game :

  • It is a game that encourages children to help each other learn to count

  • It lets children demonstrate what they know

  • It is portable

  • It does not need batteries

  • It is an educational game that invites positive interaction between children and adults

  • It teaches children to think ahead about their next move

  • It's reasonably priced and can even be made from products found around the house eliminating cost all together.

  • It can be played for 15 minutes or 2 hours


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