Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mancala, sowing the seeds of fun

I do love games. Some, yes, I buy. Others I have received. And then there are some you can make. Like Mancala.

Mancala is an old tribal game that used to be played using holes in the dirt, rocks and seeds. Now you can purchase beautifully intricate boards with "rocks" to match. No matter with what pieces you play, the game will still be the same.

Players begin by placing a certain number of "jewels" in each of the pits on the game board, we tend to use four per pit. Then the players alternate turns removing the jewels and placing one in each of the following pits in sequence and capturing opponent's jewels based on the state of board.  There are other parts to the execution of the game as well which includes turns ending when your jewel ends in an empty spot, not the home pot, as well as getting extra turns if your last jewel ends in your home pot.

But what is really fun is to make your own board. Start out by reusing a clean and empty egg carton. Collect little trivets four times the number of pits you have, ie. 48 pieces for a dozen, 24 for a half, etc. You can use buttons, rocks, legos, or whatever else you have lying around. Then get a small cup or bowl for each end as the "pot". Easy peasy lemon squeezey as Boog might say.
Also called Ghetto Mancala from http://theredscot.blogspot.com/2009/06/ghetto-mancala.html

It gets addicting. And with the correct demonstration even a three year old can learn. So if they can so can old dogs.  Other benefits, fine motor manipulation, counting, 1:1 correspondence, language development, social pragmatics, problem solving and a history lesson all wrapped up in a fun and ancient game.

You can check out Wikipedia for further detailed variations and instructions.

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