Ornamental Separator

Learn to count!

In Cherokee villages, children learned from working alongside their parents, listening or telling stories, and from playing games! One of these games was called “Beans.” Shawnee people had a similar game called “The Peach Pit Game.” Here is a list of materials you’ll need and the rules to play “Cherokee Beans” so you can play yourself. What do you think this game was used to teach?

You'll Need

  • 6 buttons of matching color
  • Paint or markers
  • Plastic bowl or plate
  • 24 beans (or counters) for two players, or 48 beans (or counters) for four players [Each player gets 12 pieces]

Setup the game

Paint or color the buttons so that one side is black, and the other side is white. Let these dry and then you can start playing.

Playing the game

This game can be played with 1-2 players (24 beans) or 2-4 players in teams (48 beans).

Sit in a circle with teams separated between one another. Place the buttons into the bowl or plate you’ve chosen and put them in the middle of the group.

Give each player 12 beans (or counters.) If you are playing in teams, you and your partner will pool your beans into a shared pool of 12 beans. Decide with your teammate how many each of you will contribute to the pool of 12 shared beans (Do you put in equal amounts or will one of you put in more or less than half?) You will keep the remaining beans (not included in the shared pool of 12) as your personal beans (counters) until the next round.

Choose who will go first and play will progress counterclockwise.

Take the bowl/plate and toss the beans. If you spill them, your turn is over. See which colors are face up.

  • If all the buttons up are white, you score 3 points
  • If all the buttons up are black, you score 2 points
  • If all but one button up are black or white, you score 1 point
  • No other combinations score points

If you score a point(s), take that number of beans (counters) from your opponent’s pool and go again. If you don’t score any points, your turn is over, so you pass the bowl/plate to the next player.

Keep playing until one team’s pools are empty. This is the end of the first round.

The second round begins by creating another common pool with your teammate, or yourself, of 12 beans (counters) and the game begins again. Players drop out of the game as they run out of beans (counters) until one player has taken all the beans (counters) and has won the game.

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