Mancala Game for Kids: How to Play?


Do you know about the Mancala game? Do you know how to play mancala game? Mancala is a well-known game played over decades for entertainment. It is mandatory to understand how to play mancala along with a directory of all its rules that will make the game of mancala beneficial for all the children in the family.

It is important to have a healthy communication cycle in the family and what better way than to spend time together and play some fun games. Mancala is one of the oldest turn-based game which involves 2 players. The main aim of the game is to capture as many of the opponents’ beads as possible in the holes dug up for each player. The game has seen a variety of variations and has been played for at least 100 years. People all across the world call mancala with different names and have their own set of rules for the game. South Indians refer to it as Pallanguzhi, Kalah in America and Cognak in South Asia. Mancala has some rules that are to be kept in mind when one sits down to play. Learning the art and the correct way of playing mancala is extremely important.

Rules and Variations of How to Play Mancala Game

how to play mancala

How to play mancala?

The game that is primarily played on a board can also be played by designing the pattern of the board on the mud. It is essential to know the correct method of playing mancala if one wants to fully enjoy it. Mancala is a simple board game that demands concentration and strategic thinking by the players. Here is a list of instructions on how to play mancala and enjoy it with the family.

Step 1: Adequate Set up

Before we begin the game, proper placement of the entire beads and understanding one’s portion on the mancala board is a must. When you place the board horizontally, the area closest to them is their mancala. The board has six holes for each player and a long cup-shaped gap on each end of the board called the mancala scoring gap. 4 beads or any other small round substance like seeds, buttons or pebbles can be placed in each hole. This gives each player a total of 48 beads to actively participate in the game.

Step 2: Understanding the Gameplay

It is a simple game with a basic bead and stone gameplay. The players decide amongst themselves on who goes first by either flipping the coin or a simple rock paper scissors. The winner commences the game by picking up all the beads from one of his holes and going in a clockwise direction dropping one stone in each hole. As the beads in the hand drops on the last hole, start the same process again by picking all the beads of the hole you last dropped in. The same process continues till the starting player has three of his holes empty passing over the chance to his opponent.


Caution: It is important to note that any of the players while dropping the stones will not drop his beads in the opponent’s mancala gap as that is solely his own scoring space.

Step 3: How to Win

The game of mancala ends as soon as the opponent finishes the entire beads placed in his side of the board. The player who has stones left in his holes places all the remaining beads in his own mancala scoring space. To decide about the winner of the game each participant counts the number of beads in his mancala space and the one with the maximum number of beads emerges as the winner.

Rules on how to play Mancala?

Each game has its own set of rules, tricks and exceptions and mancala is not far behind. Though the game has been played since ages yet some rules have remained a constant part in the games evolutionary journey. Some of the most important rules to abide by while playing mancala are:

  • While dropping the beads, if a player finishes his beads on his mancala scoring gap he gets another chance to play again and not pass over the turn to the opponent.
  • While dipping the beads if you drop a bead in a previously empty hole and that bead coincidently was the last in your hand, then all the stones in the hole just above it move towards your mancala scoring space.
  • If the last bead in the hand is dropped in a hole which previously had 3 beads, the entire lot of that hole then belongs to the player irrespective of its previous owner.
  • If you drop accidentally drop a bead in your opponent’s scoring space then that action cannot be reversed. The bead will be counted as a score made by the opponent.
  • The last but the most important rule in the game is to have fun.

What are the advantages of Mancala for children?

The game of Mancala is best designed for children of younger age groups. The elders of the family like the grandparents get a chance to take an active part in the education of their young kids. Mancala increases the concentration level of children. It imparts a sense of fair play in kids which will guide them permanently in their future. Many studies conducted by the Swiss society prove that the game of mancala improves the mathematical skills of students. Schools in Europe, Germany and France have added mancala as a part of their curriculum to make learning more effective and enjoyable.

Thus we see that the game of mancala not only has recreational elements but along with it, the game collaborates education to make studies fun. The visual form of learning as previously proven by many scientists has a better and long-lasting impact in the child’s mind. It helps him understand and memorize concepts more effectively. Therefore a correct and fair game of mancala will not only help the child learn but also ensure better communication among all the members of the family.

Read More: 11 Simple Memory Games to Improve Your Child’s Memory