Amy’s Free Ideas

Make a Mancala Game from an Egg Carton!

Mancala is a game that was invented in Africa. It was played without a board--shallow holes were dug in the ground, and pebbles were placed in each of the holes. Now it has become popular around the world, and most often is made of wood. Here is a version to make out of egg cartons.

  1. 1.Cut the lid off of an egg carton.

  2. 2.Cut the lid in half and glue the two ends to the bottom of the egg carton bottom so that there is a larger receptacle at both ends of the egg carton.

  3. 3.Paint the mancala game. I used acrylic paint. Let dry.

  4. 4.Collect 48 small objects--any small inexpensive objects that will fit in the egg carton cups. Some options could be wooden or plastic beads, pebbles, pistachio nut hulls, sea shells, buttons, etc.

  5. 5.Fill each of the 12 cups with 4 objects each.

  6. 6.Grab a friend and play the game.

Optional: If you don’t like the way the sides look with the round egg shapes showing in the middle, use two box lids (instead of one) for a smooth surface all the way across the sides. (the photo shows the egg carton with 2 lids on the bottom.) The only downside to this is that you will need to collect 2 egg cartons per child instead of one. Another option would be to fill the gap with a thin piece of cardboard, such as a cereal or cracker box cut to fit the space and glued in place.

Other ways to make the game

  1. 1.Glue 12 bottle lids into a shallow box.

  2. 2.Cut up toilet paper tubes and pieces of a cardboard box to make a mancala board.

How to Play the Mancala Game

The rules for this game are easy enough for a child to learn to play it fairly quickly. But don’t think it is a children’s game! Different strategies that you discover as you play, can make it quite a challenge for adults, too!

  1. 1.Put 4 balls in each of the 6 wells on both sides. The larger empty well on each player’s right is their own well--once balls have been put in these end wells, they cannot be taken out.

  2. 2.Each player takes a turn by  taking all the balls out of any single well on his own side, and puts one ball in each of the succeeding wells, including the large personal well to the right, and the six wells on the opposite side. The only well you skip is the opponent’s personal well.

  3. 3.If your last ball lands in your own well, you can take another turn.

  4. 4.If your last ball ends in an empty well on either side, you can take all the balls in the well on the opposite side, and put them in your own personal well.

  5. 5.Keep taking turns until there are no balls left in the 6 wells on both sides.

  6. 6.The player with the most balls in his own well wins.

This wooden mancala game folds for storage.

Sample Opponent’s Turn

Game Begins

Game Ends

Sample First turn

When all the balls have been moved into the two end wells, the game is over. Count the balls to see who won.

To set up the game, place 4 balls in each of the 6 wells on each side of the game board.

Place one ball in each succeeding well, moving toward the right.

The first player takes all the balls out of one well--any well on that player’s side.

The large well on the end to the player’s right is their own personal well. The balls put in the end wells can’t be removed.

Keep putting balls in wells until the balls run out. DO put balls in your own personal well as you come to it, but SKIP the opponent’s personal well.

Your turn is over when all the balls from that well have been placed in wells.

If a ball ends up in your own well, you get another turn.

and puts one ball in each well, moving toward his right...

Your opponent takes all the balls from any well on his side ...

If the last ball lands in an empty pit, the player also get to

including his personal well on the end to his right.

Put them in his own personal pit. Jackpot!!

Take all the balls out of the pit opposite the last ball, and...

The player with the most balls wins.

Keep taking turns until all the balls have been moved out of the side pits and into the end pits.

empty well

last ball

none; height: 177px; width: 235px; " />

2. Cut up toilet paper tubes and pieces of a cardboard box to make a mancala board.