Although I enjoy sharing our favorite board games via our game of the month feature, not every game we play is bought in a store. We have recently been having a great time playing Tchuka Ruma. Tchuka Ruma is an Indonesian transfer game that is a good precursor to the more sophisticated and well-known Mancala. Unlike Mancala, it is a solitary game and your kids can make it and play it in no time flat.
Simple, DIY games can be very satisfying for kids and can often be played on the spur of the moment, or on the go much more easily than board games. Ruma is a simple but surprisingly challenging game (more on that below!) My 10 year old played it on his own, but we also had a few face offs (see our video below). It keeps their brain active and they won’t want to stop until they discover the solution.
What you need:
- Counters (we used buttons)
Make the board:
Divide a 10 inch strip of paper into 5 equal sections. We made 2 game boards. One is 10 x 2, the other is 10 x 3. Write “Ruma” in the final end section. (See photo)
Objective: to get all the counters into the “Ruma” section.
Set up: place 2 counters in each of the blank sections.
How to play:
Pick up counters from any square and drop them, one by one into each section (similar to Mancala) towards the Ruma square. This is called “sowing the seeds”.
What comes next depends on where your last counter falls.
If your last counter falls into Ruma then you move again, sowing seeds starting from the square of your choice.
If your last counter falls into an empty space, you lose.
If your last counter falls into a space already occupied by one or more counters, pick up all the counters from that square and continue sowing the seeds.
Good to know:
There is only one solution that will get all the counters into the Ruma square. There is a mathematical reason for this, but it is way above my head – ha ha ha. See the video if you want the solution. It was quite challenging for me, although I do not profess to be particularly adept at games like this!
It is fun, though, and my 10 year old and I did not want to give up. Even after we solved the game, it was not always easy to remember the exact steps, so even after your kids win, ask them to try and repeat the feat.
Watch a the new and improved (!) video of how to play. First I demonstrate how to lose (ha ha ha) but hem you can watch a mother-son face off, plus at the very end I reveal the solution!
We found this game in the book, More Math Games & Activities from Around the World, which is a great resource if you love making your own games. (affiliate link)
More DIY games we love: