mancala materials

Math and Mancala

Mancala may be the oldest board game in the world. Archaeologists have found evidence of ancient mancala games carved into stone in Egypt. Mancala is a “count and capture” game, and the word mancala in arabic means “to move.” There are many variations of the game that exist in different cultures, and it is a great game for developing math and strategizing skills for kids.

Back when I taught elementary school, I used to have my students create their own mancala games using simple items found in the home. Creating your own two-player mancala game is easy to do and pairs well with counting units in math or cultural units on Ancient Egypt.

You will need:

  • egg carton(s)
  • paint (optional for decoration)
  • paint brushes (optional)
  • 48 counting pieces
  • scissors
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    dreidels

    Fact of the Day

    Some Jewish families and children play a game with a spinning top called a “dreidel” during Hanukkah. Dreidel means “little spinner” in Yiddish. A dreidel has four sides, each with a different Hebrew letter printed on each side.

    You can find instructions on how to play dreidel here.