Today we have a special guest… my Mom. I get my love of family games from her. Since she’s the one who taught M and M how to play Mancala, she’s the perfect person to share her tips with you! Yippee.
I am so excited to come back and share with you one of my favorite childhood games, The Marble Game.
As I mentioned before, when I shared the Card Game GOLF, we come from many generations of game players. When I was very young, my Dad made us a marble game board out of plywood, and my Mom made us a marble bag out of some very cute carrot fabric, which was filled with colorful marbles.
I only knew this game by the name Marble Game until I was an adult and learned the correct name was Mancala.
Our childhood Mancala game board ended up at my house, so my girls learned to play The Marble Game with the set their Grandparents had made.
By the time it went through 2 generations, it was time for a new game board and marble bag. Jill’s dad and I decided it was time to make a new set for each of the families.
What you see here is the new marble board and marble bag. Hopefully, it will last another couple of generations. (If you would rather buy a board you can find one on Amazon — Mancala. This is an affiliate link.)
How to Play Mancala & Printable Mancala Rules
(There are many different variations of Mancala, this is how we play.)
Mancala Rules – Printable Instructions
Age 5 and up: I don’t like putting ages on games. A child at age 3 could enjoy this game with adult supervision. A 7-year-old may begin understanding how to use strategy while playing.
Object: 2 players compete against each other to collect as many marbles in their large hole (closest to them) as they can before one of the players clears his side of all its marbles. This is a game of strategy; the more they play, the more they will come to understand this.
Setting up the game: Place the marble board in a horizontal line between the two players. Place three marbles in each of the holes. The six holes to the right of them are their side. Choose a player to go first.
Playing the game: The first player picks up all the marbles from one of his holes. The player then starts with the first hole to the right and starts dropping one marble in each hole. If he reaches the end of his side, he is to drop one marble in his large hole, then continue around to the other side of the board. He does not drop a marble in his opponent’s large hole.
If the player places his LAST marble in his own large hole, he gets to take another turn. Example: If you start the game, a good play may be to choose the hole that is located 3rd from the right. You would pick up three marbles, dropping one in each hole and ending in your large hole. This gives you an extra turn.
If the player drops his last marble on his side of the board in an empty hole, he captures all the marbles in his opponent’s hole directly across from that hole. All the captured marbles, plus the capturing marble itself, get put in the capturing player’s large hole. Players are not allowed to touch marbles in order to count them. If you touch your marbles, you are to play that hole.
Winning the Marble Game
The game ends when one player runs out of marbles on his side of the board.
When the game ends, the other player gets to take all the opponents’ marbles still left in play and place them in his own large hole.
The strategy sets in by determining whether it is wiser to go out or play longer, depending on how many marbles are in the opposing player’s large hole.
Tips (to maximize learning): A fun way to find out who the winner is at the end of the game is to fill each of the person’s six holes with three marbles.
- Do you have empty holes or extra marble?
- Who had the most or least?
- How many more do you have?
- You can add different amounts to your starting number, such as five marbles instead of 3.
There are so many things that games teach, but one of my favorites is good sportsmanship.
I hope you and your kids enjoy the marble game as much as we do.
If you play already, do you have the same set of Mancala rules? Do you have a homemade board? Do you use something other than marbles?
Other Marble Games
If you are looking for another game of marbles or marble activity, these are a great place to start.
Jan is not a blogger… yet. She loves hiking and searching garage sales for fun old stuff. Thanks Mom!
This post originally appeared April 28, 2012.