Let’s Play Mancala


What’s your strategy to win at Mancala? Give this ancient Ghanaian game a contemporary twist! Make your own set with Crayola® Model Magic.


1. Mancala is an ancient African game, often played with beans or beads. Did you know that it is considered to be the world’s oldest game? Historians believe it started in Ghana, where the game is called Wari. Years ago, rich families had Mancala boards made of carved ivory covered with gold. Variations of Mancala are played around the world.

2. Mancala is so popular because players use strategy and counting. Find out how to play and then create a game for yourself. This version is made with paper cups instead of ivory, but the rules are still the same!

3. Cover your art area with recycled newspaper. Form Crayola Model Magic into 48 pebble-like shapes, making 24 in each of two colors. Use the Model Magic primary colors or create your own hues. Just rub color from a Crayola Washable Marker into white modeling compound and knead. Continue adding color to get the shade you want. To give your pebbles more weight and texture, mix in colored sand. Air-dry the pebbles overnight.

4. Use Crayola Scissors to cut off the tops of 14 small paper cups. Use your imagination and Crayola Tempera Paint and Paint Brushes to color each cup. Paint a shoe box lid, too. Air-dry thoroughly.

5. With Crayola School Glue, attach two rows of six painted cups to the box lid. Glue another cup to each end of the lid. These cups are known as kalahas.

6. To play, each player places four Model Magic pebbles in each of the six cups on her or his side. Let the games begin!

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.


  • Shape the entire game with Model Magic. After drying and painting, glaze it with equal parts of water and Crayola School Glue.
  • Discover the many variations of Mancala. Make up your own variations.
  • Set up after-school or recess Mancala tournaments.
  • Find out what other ancient games are still played today. Where and when were they first played?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Markers
  • Washable Kid's Paint
  • Model Magic®
  • No-Run School Glue
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • shoe box
  • paper towels
  • container(s) of water
  • paper cups



  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12


  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes


  • Students research the origins of Mancala and learn that historians believe mancala is the oldest game still being played today.

  • Students research the rules for Mancala and find out why strategy is so important.

  • Students create their own Mancala game board and pieces.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards