Mancala (Mankala) Counting Game

MamaLicia Submitted by: MamaLicia

Who can win the most game pieces? Young kids get to practice counting while older kids get to practice thinking ahead and planning strategies.

20 minutes
36 - 60 months
Group size
2 - 2 tots


  • 1 Empty egg cartons
  • 2 Paper cups
  • 48 Dried beans (, or similarly small objects like beads, buttons or rocks)


  1. Set up: Remove the lid from the egg carton. Place an extra cup at each end called the “store”. Place 4 beans in each cup.
  2. How to play: The game begins with one player picking up all of the pieces in any one of the holes on his side. Moving counter-clockwise, the player deposits one of the beans in each hole until the beans run out.
  3. If you run into your own store, deposit one piece in it. If you run into your opponent's store, skip it.
  4. If the last bean you drop is in your own store, you get a free turn.
  5. If the last bean you drop is in an empty hole on your side, you capture that bean and any bean in the hole directly opposite.
  6. Always place all captured beans in your store.
  7. Game End: The game ends when all six spaces on one side of the Mancala board are empty. The player who still has beans on his side of the board when the game ends captures all of those beans. Count all the beans in each store. The winner is the player with the most beans.
Help the child count as they go.
Try the game in a secondary language to work on counting vocabulary.
Safety Tip
Beans: Small kids are encouraged to keep the dried beans out of their mouths.

Original Source

Mancala describes "sowing" or "count-and-capture" board games played around the world

Developmental skills