Create Your Own Mancala Game

A couple of years ago, I started playing a game called Mancala with Ninja Boy. It’s a simple enough game that younger kids can play but continue enjoying as they get older by learning more strategy. There are a few different variations of game play, but the basic version is the one that comes with the game if you buy it.

Mancala GameWhen my sister and I were little, we would play the game using an egg carton and pennies. I realized after reading the instructions that we had a “Johnson house rules” version of the game.

Penny Mancala Egg CartonInstead of capturing the stones in the opposite side if you land in an empty hole on your side, it was just the end of your turn. And whoever emptied their side first got the stones on the opposing side. This is also the version I have taught my kids because until writing this post, I didn’t know of any other way! That is the beauty of these kinds of games. You can adapt the rules however you want (as long as everyone agrees to follow the same rules).

Playing Penny Mancala

Ninja Boy counting his “stones”

Penny MancalaOne day while we were playing with our board and marbles that came in the box, we realized that we were missing one of the marbles. There just happened to be a Lego minifig on the counter beside our table, so I just popped the head off to use instead. This gave me an idea that it would be fun to use only Lego heads to play with sometime!

Lego MancalaSo of course, we had to try it!

Lego Head MancalaIt was fun, but they had a tendency to bounce out of the holes in the wood.

Lego MancalaThe fun of this game is that it is simple to play, and you don’t have to buy a board (use an egg carton and 2 bowls). You can use just about anything as pieces! All you need is 48 of something. You could try…

  • Pennies, nickels, dimes
  • Lego heads, bodies, legs, hats
  • Marbles
  • Nuts (if no one is allergic!)
  • Plastic beads
  • Buttons

Can you think of something else creative you could use?

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