Play Plan : Pallaguzhi

General Information

Board: the standard pallanguli board
Prerequisites: Counting
Number of players: 2

Game overview and basic rules for play

Pallankuli is played using an elliptical wooden board with two rows, each having seven hollows to be filled with five shells/seeds. The Pallankuzhi board has 14 holes, each player controlling one row of seven. Initially six seeds, shells or small stones are put in each hole. In some regions just four or five seeds are used.

On his turn a player lifts the seeds from any of his holes and, going counter-clockwise, distributes one seed into the following holes. After a player has dropped his last seed, he takes the seeds from the next hole and distributes them. If the last seed falls into a hole with an empty hole beyond, the seeds in the hole following the empty hole are captured by the player and placed into his store.

Play is continued if the next hole contains seeds. If the last seed falls into a cup, which is followed by two empty holes, nothing is captured and the turn is over. If, after having a seed dropped into it, a hole contains four seeds, those are captured by the player who dropped the seed. If a player has no seeds left to make a move, the round is over and his opponent captures the remaining seeds.

After the first round players take the seeds from their stores and fill as many of their holes as possible with them. The winner will have a surplus which is kept in his store. The loser of the first round will be unable to fill all of his holes. These unfilled holes are marked as “rubbish holes.” In the next round the player who went first in the previous round is going second. If, after a round, a player has enough counters to fill any of his rubbish holes back up their status is removed and they are again used during play.

The game is over when a player is unable to fill any cups with six counters at the end of a round.

Play session plans

Session 1

  • Before the session: Remove all the 10s from the card packs and make sure the play arena is kept at hand. Now you are ready for the session.
  • In this session, it is advisable to race only up to a smaller number like 10 since it is the children’s first time playing the game.
  • Explain the game to the children. Tell them that they are going to add up the numbers on the cards they get until someone reaches 10. Whoever reaches 10 without crossing over wins the game.
  • Now, hand the pack to one of the children and ask him/her to deal 2 cards each to all participants.
  • Gently guide the children through adding up their cards to see what numbers they have.
  • Some children might be comfortable adding up the cards on their own, while some others may need help to add. Help those who do not know how to add correctly. Show them different strategies such as counting on the fingers, adding verbally, etc. Let the child choose the strategy he/she is most comfortable with.
  • Since you are only racing to 10 today, some of the children might have already reached there.
  • If there are children who have gone over 10, explain that those who go above the number are out of the game.
  • If nobody has exactly the number 10 without going over, encourage those who are still in the game to pick a card from the middle.
  • Ask them to add the number they got to the total of the 2 cards they already have. Again, assist those who need some help in adding.
  • If time permits, play 2-3 more rounds of the game.

Session 2

  • Ask the children if they remember the game.
  • If there are any students who were absent from the previous session, ask the children to explain to him/her what the game is all about.
  • When you think the children are clear about the rules, start playing. This time sit back and only help where absolutely necessary. Let the children figure out on their own.
  • After 2 rounds of play, tell them that they will now be racing to 20. That is, the person who reaches 20 first, without spilling over, wins the game.
  • Make sure the children are able to add up their cards properly. Help those who are not being able to do so, but make sure that you are not adding up their cards for them.
  • Play some more rounds of the game, while ensuring that you are more of an observer than a teacher.

Session 3

  • Today, play the same game but set 27 as the number to race towards.
  • This time, do not help children with their addition. Encourage them to use the strategies mentioned previously, to add up their cards.

Session 4

  • Play 2-3 rounds of the game as before.
  • Now, introduce a small change in the way the game is played. After dealing 2 cards each, instead of all the children picking up 1 card each from the draw pile, the children can be given an option of whether or not to pick up another card. After every child has decided and picked cards (some children will also pick up cards, go over 27 and be out of the game), the child whose cards are closest to 27 wins the game.