Mancala in the Classroom

More often then not our favorite board games originate from games that were introduced to us in our youth. Whether from our parents, friends, family, or peers we can all remember the first game we fell in love with.

Ouri project by Miceu Tavares, Portugal


Mancala in the Classroom?


Absolutely! The classroom was designed to be a place to learn and most board games require us to learn or sharpen a skill. Our educators continue to explore ways to bring learning experiences into the classroom that integrate both non-cognitive and cognitive skills which are an important combination for real-world success.

Yes, games can be played through a computer, however, board games, such as Mancala, can combine the skills of patience, discipline, and hand-eye coordination along with math and problem-solving. More importantly, research has shown that making the connection between in-person play and learning increases adoption and interest among children, develops social skills, and creates a stronger foundation for formal education.


Why Mancala?



Overall, Mancala is a great game. Continued gameplay develops hand translation and math skills, and incorporates history and critical thinking.

Picking up a pit full of stones with one hand and distributing one by one into neighboring pits requires the movement of a single stone out of the group from the palm to the fingertips. Math skills are sharpened when instead of counting each stone or resulting distance traveled a child can instantly see the total of the group or skip count to the final position. Mancala is one of the oldest games in the world and has origins from South Asia, Western Africa, and Eastern Europe. The Mancala family of games can be integrated into history lessons and brought to life through in-classroom gameplay. Finally, thinking before acting or planning ahead is a very important skill to master. Combining multiple problems to be solved in succession require a great deal of strategy. Just like Chess, mastering Mancala requires strategic problem-solving skills. Skills, no doubt, that will prove beneficial in the foundation of life.


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