Collect Stones to Win
- What: Mancala Game
- When: 4 years and up
- Why: Fun, easy to learn, wide age range
- Where: Amazon
Looking for a new game you can play with your kids? Want a classic game they can play for years to come? If you haven’t introduced your kids to Mancala, now’s your chance.
This easy to learn game has been around for centuries. Kids will love the brightly colored stones, while parents like the inherent learning built into the fun. A Mancala board typically is made from wood, and contains twelve divots for holding stones. Your board should also come with 48 stones, usually round and in a variety of colors. Once you have your Mancala board and stones, the rules are simple.
Two players compete to collect the most stones. To begin, place four stones in each of the twelve pockets, which can also be called pits or holes. A larger holding area to the right of each player acts as their store, also known as their Mancala. Players take turns choosing one pocket to empty. They take all the stones from any pit on their side of the board. Then they place one stone in each pocket, moving counter-clockwise, until the stones run out.
If they run into their own Mancala storage area, they drop one stone into it as well. If they run into their opponent’s Mancala, they skip it and continue dropping stones into the other side of the board. If the last piece dropped by a player lands in their own Mancala, the player gets another turn. If the last piece gets deposited into an empty pocket on the player’s side of the board, that player gets all the pieces in their opponent’s pocket directly across from where the last stone landed as well as the last stone they dropped. (So that the empty pocket remains empty.)
Players take turns choosing pockets and distributing stones until one side of the Mancala board and its six pockets get emptied. Then the player with stones remaining in front of them on their side collects those stones. Each player counts the stones in their Mancala, and the one with the highest number wins.
Kids love the feel and sound of the smooth stones. They will learn counting skills as well as planning and strategy while playing this ancient game. Since it requires zero literacy, any kid who can count and understand strategy can play. Younger kids can team up with an older player, or just enjoy moving the stones around the board before starting to compete.
The wooden board holds all the stones when not in use. Some boards fold up, making storage even more compact. If you want a tactile game kids and adults alike can both enjoy, get your own Mancala board today.