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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Mancala (game) madness at our summer camp!

Mancala (game) madness at our summer camp!

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This post may not be long lived because there is nothing "technical" about the beautiful ancient African game Mancala and someone may pull it due to lack of relevance... But, it is all the rage at our summer camp and has helped aim the children and their extraneous summer behaviors into a much happier, focused venue. The memory of using/playing this game was somewhere in the recesses of my mind (it had been 15 years[ish] since I used it). Finding myself in summer camp employment again and seeing that the children needed more activity I tried to remember what we used at that old Center in Florida. Mancala. We had large plastic (orange?!) game boards and the children loved it! Contests were part of the summer. We had a very 'basic" way to play so very young children could join in the fun (see instructions below). At our Center we are in classes until early afternoon so we let the Kindergarteners play while we are busy. My daughter had taken our old board with her when she grew up and moved out. I found a nice one on eBay, a tad less expensive than stores. A inexpensive travel folding version is available at Walmart the kids have bought these off the shelves! In my original online search I found some elaborate game boards and I drooled, had to try making one! My boyfriend and I spent a good part of a Saturday working on the first huge one with a router! (We used a 2x10 spiff) The kids love that one! We've since made 3 at home and have started 2 at school. The router is loud and messy but the kids are loving using it (protective goggles and ear plugs needed)! One of my boards is Celtic design, I want to do one African and one Egyptian... It's addicting and you can personalize any theme. At the Center, the beloved game is simply called "The Game"*... (Instructions for simple Mancala: One direction: counter clockwise. You each have the side/row in front of you. Both ends are "free turn" spaces. Pick up only from your side. No winning on your first try! Belive me, they find the calculation to do this quite quickley!!! Variations are available like on any turn go in whatever direction although following your turn through in one direction. Or picking up from any side. The way you win is by clearing the stones/marbles from your side.)

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