the last of the crafty kids…

Well, I hope it isn’t really the last of my Aussie kids being crafty, but I will no longer be there to think up crafts for them to try out. Actually, I’m not very good at coming up with these ideas, as you’ll have noticed by my NOT posting about this subject very often. But every once in a while, I would have an “apostrophe” (yes, I mean an epiphany), and we’d settled down to something fun and different.

My last idea was to introduce the kids to the game of Mancala, and keep Sadie occupied for part of the morning. Since it’s easy to make your own game, we went looking for an egg carton, and then tried to find the paint. Instead of bottles of paint, we came across a can of gold spray paint. Leaving her on the veranda, so she couldn’t accidentally get sprayed, I set the egg carton in the grass, and thoroughly coated it with gold paint.

While it dried, we went out into the yard, and started picking up pebbles, though we picked more than we needed, because I couldn’t remember how many went in each Mancala hole. The sun was beating down hard, so Sadie went to pick pebbles in the shade, while I dripped into the dirt, picking my last few.

Rinsing the pebbles, we left them to dry on a towel, and our game was pretty much ready, but it was nap time. So, while she slept, I counted out the prettiest, smoothest pebbles, and put them in the egg carton. Discovering that the carton had a few little spiders in it, I gave it a good shot of bug spray, which made the pebbles look shiny.

I went online to review the rules to one of the oldest games in the world, which is still played in Africa, India, and many more countries. I guess you can play with different numbers of pebbles, but the suggestion was three per hole.

If you’re playing with an egg carton, you pretend you have a “home base” on each end, and your own home base is always to your right. The game goes counter-clockwise. My family has been playing it wrong, for years, so I think I have it correct now, but if you’re confused, look online.

One player starts by picking up the pebbles out of one cup, and going counter-clockwise, dropping one in each hole until they run out. If your last pebble goes into your home base, you can take another turn. If your last pebble lands in an empty cup, with pebbles on your opponent’s side, you can steal their pebbles. You keep taking turns until someone runs out of pebbles on their side of the board, and when that happens, the other picks up all the pebbles on their side, and puts them in their home base.

The trick is to not empty your side too early, because your opponent could beat you, if they have more pebbles on their side, than you have in your home base. It takes some strategy, and there are numerous variations to the rules, so don’t rely on me completely, if you’re confused.

When Sadie woke up from her nap, I taught her to play, first, but as she’s only four years old, she was easily distracted, had trouble remembering which direction to go, and forgot the rules, regularly. I taught Kit to play, later, and then her dad, so Kit will keep them at it, following the rules correctly.

It was a fun project, and Sadie was very pleased with our golden egg carton and all the beautiful pebbles. Of course, you can make your own using seeds, buttons, marbles, or anything else you can think of. You just have to keep it out of the hands of any bubs that happen to be in your house.  : )

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