DIY Mancala Game

DIY Mancala game for kids

This game is also known as the “count and capture” game. A Mancala game encourages kids to conduct thought experiments, counting tokens and comparing tactics in their heads before they move a game piece.


The word Mancala is derived from the Arabic word Naqala (na-ka-la), which means “to move” or “to transfer”. The rules of who is allowed to play vary from place to place. In certain areas, it is seen as a man’s game, and in others areas, men don’t play, making it a female game. Source: Savannah Art Museum – Mancala

  • Cardboard egg carton (dozen size)
  • Craft paints
  • Paintbrush
  • 48 Marbles, tiny rocks, beads, beans, seeds etc.
  1. At the beginning of the game, you and your opponent sit on opposite sides with your egg carton game between you.
  2. The row in front of you is your row.
  3. The extra cardboard section attached to the carton to your right is your storage pit.
  4. Four pieces are placed in each of the 12 spaces where eggs normally sit.
  5. The first player takes all the seeds (pieces) from one of his houses. He sows the seeds, moving counter-clockwise. If he gets as far as his own storage pit, he drops a seed there, too. If the last seed in his hand goes in his storage pit, he gets another turn. Otherwise, his turn ends.
  6. The second player repeats the “”sowing” maneuver described in #1.
  7. Players don’t drop pieces in each other’s storage pits.
  8. If, during a turn, a player’s last seed lands in one of his empty spots, and there are pieces in the spot immediately opposite it, the player gets to capture both his last seed and the seeds opposite.
  9. Winning the game: The game ends when one player runs out of pieces on his side of the egg carton. When the game ends, the other player gets to take all his stones from his side of the egg carton and place in his own Mancala.
  10. Strategy sets in by determining whether it is wiser to go out, or play longer, depending on how many stones are in the opposing players cups.

You might enjoy reading these books to find out more about African culture:

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Daniel Minter.

Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington and Shane W. Evans

Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford and Shelly Hehenberger


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