Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mancala Simplified for Preschoolers

Mancala is a term used to describe a type of counting game. Kalah (which is simply referred to as Manacala in the United States) is one type of Mancala game. In most Mancala games, players move counters (or seeds) between pits and stores. The winner of the game accumulates the most counters in his or her store. 

Some Mancala games have complex rules, while others are more simple. In the version played most often in the United States, there are 48 counters, 12 pits and one house at each end of the board. For a preschooler, this can become confusing. We wanted our students to benefit from the counting and critical thinking components of the game, but did not want to confuse them with developmentally advanced concepts. We modified the game to be more developmentally appropriate for our students.


  • egg carton
  • scissors 
  • glue
  • paint
  • "counters" 


1. Cut the egg carton in half. The bottom portion of the egg carton (where the eggs are kept) will be the Mancala board. 

2. Cut from the cover of the egg carton, a piece of cardboard to form a border with the edge of the Mancala board (the edge of the board that was cut in half). Glue this piece to the egg carton and allow to dry. 

3. Paint the egg carton. Allow to dry. 

4. Instruct the students to collect "counters". We instructed our students to collect 'beautiful small rocks'. 

5. Place 1 counter in each pit on the Mancala board. For more advanced students, you can use more than one rock. Additionally, we did not include the house because we found it to be confusing. You can add the house by attaching a small container (such as a paper cup) to each end of the Mancala board. 

How to play: 

1. Place one counter in each pit. 

2. Have the student choose a pit to start with. The student will move in a clockwise direction the number of counters in the selected pit. 

3. Have the student choose another pit, and move the counter in a clockwise direction the number of counters in the selected pit. 

4. Continue selecting pits and moving counters. The object of the game is to move all the counters into one pit. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gallon Bottle Bird Feeder

This simple craft is great for the spring when birds are returning and trees are beginning to bloom. We put our bird feeder up in April and watched birds use them throughout Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. 


  • one empty gallon jug - preferably water 
  • one pencil
  • one scissor 
  • crayons
  • ribbon or string 
  • bird food

1. Hold the empty jug by the handle. Draw openings for birds to fly in and out of on the 2 sides opposite to the handle. 

2. Using scissors, cut the two openings out. 

3. Using crayons, have your child draw on the bottle. 

4. Make two holes on the top of the jug on opposite sides of the cap. 

5. Securely tie ribbon or string. 

6. Hang the bird feeder outside and fill the bottom with bird food. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Apple Tree Through the Seasons Book

This book is great for the fall curriculum - it teaches your child about the seasons and also about apples. Furthermore, this book makes it easy for your child to explain the seasons and apples to you.


  • Construction paper - brown and your child's favorite color
  • White paper (regular printer paper) 
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Scissors 
  • Crayons or color pencils 

1. Fold a piece of water printer paper into quarters. In 3 of the folded quarters draw the outline of an apple tree top (outline of leaves of an apple tree)

2. Instruct your child on the seasons and how an apple tree changes through the seasons. Have your child draw and color the apple tree top through the seasons 
-Spring: light green leaves with pink blossoms that will turn into apples 
-Summer: green leaves and apples
-Fall: yellow, orange and red leaves with apples 

3. Fold the construction paper into quarters. Cut out the bottom left quarter.
4.  In another construction paper (the same color) fold into quarters and cut the out all four quarters. 

5. Staple three of the cut out corners  to the top half of the book. This will be where you will glue the apple tree tops to the book. On the top cover, help your child write the title. We used the title "An Apple Tree Through the Seasons". 

Trace your child's hand, including part of the arm so that it fills the entire length of the construction paper in portrait orientation. With scissors cut the outline of your child's arm out of the paper.

7. Glue the outline of your child's arm to the back page of the book. This will be the page that is comprised of 2 quarters (from step 3).

8. Have your child glue in the tree tops. After the title page, the seasons should progress as follows: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.