Great Play

by Lisa Toner

Gather

egg carton
scissors
48 small objects of similar size (macaroni, beans or stones)
acrylic craft paints or markers

Go

1. Carefully cut the lid off the egg carton. Then cut the lid in half to go on each end of the game board.
2. Paint the egg carton and the game pieces with craft paints. Get fancy and decorate your game with African designs.
3. Mancala has different rules of play. Start with these simple rules. Then look on the Web for variations from different countries. Go get a friend and have fun!

Rules:

1. Place the board between two players. Each player puts four game pieces into each of the six "pits" closest to him. Colors don't matter. No beads are placed in the half-lids, called a scoring pit or mancala. A player's mancala is the one to his right.
2. The first player scoops up all of the beads from one of his pits. He places the beads one at a time into successive pits, moving counter-clockwise around the board. Beads placed in a mancala count as points for that player. Players do not drop beads into their opponent's mancala. Instead they skip it and continue dropping beads until they run out.
3. If a player's last bead is placed into his mancala, he gets to take another turn.
4. If a player places his last bead in an empty pit on his side of the board, he gets to take that bead--plus all the beads in his opponent's pit directly across the board--and put them in his mancala.
5. Players take turns until on player has no more beads in his six pits. At this point, players count the beads in their mancala. The players with the most beads wins.

This article first appeared in the June 2008 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2008 by Lisa Toner. Used by permission. Photo © Ron Nickel.