Family Game Night: Mancala

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There are so many wonderful games to play together as a family, and I’ve mentioned some of our favorites before. What gets tricky is when you try to find games that are interesting and age-appropriate when you have big age ranges in your family. With five years in between our kids, finding games that they can play together and enjoy is not always easy.


Mancala, or the African stone game, is a classic game, and one that I’ve found our entire family can play together. While it’s a 2-player game, we play it as a family by taking turns. And because we’re (okay, everyone but me) is competitive, it often turns into a round-robin tournament.

You can find Mancala rules online, but the object of the game is to collect as many stones in your Mancala before one of the players clears his side of the board of all his stones. We have a mancala board that we purchased, but I’ve seen lots of creative ways you can make your own.

Some of the things I love about this game:

Play is quick. The average game takes around 10 minutes. It’s perfect for short attention spans or to fill in short spans of time that can get dicey, like just before dinner.

The playing field is level. There’s a basic strategy, but even young kids pick it up quickly. Anyone can win.

It’s soothing. Something about dropping the stones into the wells is relaxing. It feels and sounds nice.

Accessibility. While it’s not a travel game, it is a game that can be left out for easy play. The board looks nice sitting on our coffee table, and since we leave it out it invites impromptu play.

What games have you enjoyed playing lately?