Sparkle Crafts
Sparkle Craft: Sungka

Sparkle Craft: Sungka

In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “I Am Myself,” Piper is discouraged because her friends at school want her to only be like them. Her sports friends want her to only play sports, her musical friends want her to only play the piano, and her artistic friends want her to only be interested in art. But when the Willow Tree takes her to the Philippines and introduces her to a Kagwang, a Binterong, a Pilantok, and a Mawmag, she learns that everyone has their own unique combination of interests and strengths. Piper realizes that being herself is the best thing to be.

This week's craft comes from the Philippines and will leave plenty of room for individual interpretation — it's a homemade Sungka game.

Similar to Mancala, Sungka is a “count and capture” or “sowing” game. While it is most traditionally played with shells and a wooden board with seven small “house” pits and two large “head” pits, the number of pits and game pieces used seems to vary in accordance with what's available and convenient.

While it only has space for six “houses,” an empty egg carton fits that bill perfectly. And, even better, it's a blank canvas to decorate before you begin to play.

This project is delightful, because, however your egg carton gets decorated—be it finger paints or cartoon stickers — at the end you'll still have a functional game. As such, if you have time and supplies, I recommend setting out a few options and letting your child decide. You might be surprised at how beautiful and unique their resulting Sungka boards will be.

Egg Carton Sungka Game

sungka 1 || the willowbee tree


One empty egg carton


Paint, markers, paper, glue, stickers, or whatever other art supplies you'd like to use to make your Sungka board your own

42 shells, buttons, or beans to use as playing counters


sungka 4 || the willowbee tree

To prep your egg carton, cut the lid and any other flaps off the bottom piece. Discard the flaps, then cut the lid in half.

sungka 5 || the willowbee tree

Next, using paint, markers, or whatever else you have on hand, decorate the cups of the bottom of the egg carton and the open halves of the lid. While you can decorate both sides of the lid the same, it will be helpful for game play later, particularly with smaller children, if each side is distinctive. Other than that, be creative!

Once your board is dry — a hairdryer will help with this if your soon-to-be Sungka players are getting anxious — place the decorated lid halves so each one cups an opposite end of the egg carton, with just a bit of the lid extending to form an extra, larger cup at the end. While you can tape or glue the pieces this way, I left mine loose. It doesn't impede play, and it's nice to be able to rubber band the lid back on when you're ready to put the game away.

sungka 6 || the willowbee tree

Last, collect 42 shells, buttons, or beans, and distribute them evenly in the small egg cups. Now you're ready to play!

Here are the rules

Arrange the board horizontally between you and your opponent. The “head” (the bigger cup made of the egg carton lid) on your left is yours; the other belongs to your opponent. (This is why it helps to make them different colors.) The “houses” (the smaller egg cups) on your side of the board are yours, and likewise for your opponent.

sungka 2 || the willowbee tree

Begin by picking up all of the counters from one of your houses, then drop one into each house, working clockwise. When you reach your own head drop a counter there, then continue to drop counters into the houses of your opponent, skipping only your opponent's head.

  • If the last counter you play falls into a house with other counters in it, you pick up those counters and continue with your turn.

  • If the last counter you play falls into an opponent's empty house, your turn is over.

  • If the last counter lands in an empty house on your side, you capture all your opponent's counters in the opposite house and put them in your own head, together with the capturing counter. Your turn is over.

  • If the last counter falls in your own head, you get another turn.

Continue play in this manner, taking turns, until all six houses on one side of the board are empty. The player with the most counters in their head wins.

If you liked this tutorial, here are others you might enjoy:

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About the Author

Meryl Carver-Allmond

Sparkle Kitchen & Craft Blogger

The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.

Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.

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