IF YOU PLAY MAFIA, READ THIS BLOG!!!!!
This January, at LFLTA, our state foreign language conference, I learned about a game that changed the rest of my year with my students.
This is a good friend of mine, Cat, who is a second year teacher and is already AMAZINGGGGG, she also loves Selfie Brain Breaks like me sooooo that automatically made me love her.Cat was really brave and put herself out there for a Round Table presentation. They were quick, 10 minute presentations where each presenter had to quickly communicate on a topic. It is REALLY loud and pretty stressful but she did an incredible job. She presented on Loup Garou. A game that she played with her students EVERY Friday throughout the ENTIRE school year.
I was initially interested because I had invented my own “Loup Garou” version of mafia after teaching a unit on the Louisiana legend. I wrote about it in this blog. My kids LOVE this legend so I wanted to hear about yet another game to expose them to, and Blair, our mutual friend had told me I would LOVE it! OH MY GOSH… what an understatement!
If you use Mafia in your classes you WILL LOVE this game. If you don’t use Mafia in your classes yet… Stop waiting. Stop reading blogs about it. Stop watching videos and just try it…. it is what I had to do and honestly, it is MY favorite thing to do in my classroom and my students tell me DAILY that it is the best thing we do in class. The most incredible part about Mafia, is the amount of input you can give and how intensely interested the kids are in what you have to say. I tried Erica Peplinski’s Bad Unicorn in my Learning Lab at iFLT this year and it was EQUALLY as awesome and perfect for those younger babies. It is also an awesome version if you’re not comfortable using Mafia or Loup Garou in your classrooms because of the “killing”.Â Regardless of WHICH Mafia you use,Â PLEASE, just dive in and give it a shot.
SO, why is Loup Garou amazing?! It is essentially Mafia, but with WAY more characters. Here is a presentation I made (it is in English so you can change it to whatever language you teach) that has all of the characters listed along with a photo of each. It also includes the “accusation” page which I will talk about in “game play” below.
I would introduce this game, AFTER your kids are already familiar with Mafia. I also like introducing it when I can explain the game, characters and their “roles” when I can just do it all in the Target language. Here is a video of me reviewing the characters in Spanish with my sixth graders. This is the same “presentation” I provided above that you could use to talk about the characters with your kids before playing.
Loup Garou: The Loup Garou is the “mafia” of the game. If you have taught about the legend you can integrate that into your discussion of this character. The Loup Garou attacks someone in the night
The Witch: The witch is similar to the doctor, however the witch only has two potions. She has one potionÂ (I say water in my lower levels) of life and one of death. She can only use them one time each throughout the entire game. There is another dramatic difference with the witch and doctor which I will explain during “game play”
The Prophet: The prophet is like the police officer. Each night the prophet indicates who they believe the Loup Garou is.
Cupid: Cupid has an important job. Cupid chooses TWO people to be in love. If ONE of these two people are killed by the Loup Garou, or by the community, or by the witch, the other dies of a broken heart.
The Little Girl: This is the only person who can PEEK during game play! This is probably the most desired role amongst my students. If killed the little girl can NEVER reveal who she really was, she must say “I was innocent”. The little girl can also never be a ghost.
The Hunter: The hunter has an important role to play but ONLY when they’ve been killed. When this happens, the hunter reveals their identity and chooses ONE person in the circle to “take with them”.
Innocents: ALL the others…
Now that you have the characters, some answers to your questions before you ask them. Can you have more than ONE of each role? Sure. Whatever feels best for your class. The best part about this is that there are automatically MORE roles which the kids LOVE rather than the “three” that you’re limited to in Mafia. If you are choosing more than one kid for each character the challenge is always: 1. Getting them to communicate NON VERBALLY and SILENTLY and 2. Making a decision QUICKLY. Keep this in mind.
For-seeingÂ issues: Students don’t mind being an “innocent”, because the game play is SO interesting, however, being an innocent ALL year, and never being a “lead” character can be a little disappointing. To avoid this, my suggestion is to print a roster at the beginning of the year. When you play Mafia or Loup Garou, keep track on the roster of when you used someone in a lead role. You can even have a student who is an angel do this for you later during game play. I like to put a code on my roster to indicate WHAT role the child had. That way I can add in letters when we play Mafia too.
- C- Cupid
- G- Girl
- W- Witch
First of all, I really think it is important to TAKE NOTES as you play!!! I created this (again in English) if it helps you to stay organized throughout the game. I would not be able to play without a “notes” sheet of some kind. THROUGHOUT the game, you speak in the TL. Though I am writing everything in English, obviously the best part about this game is the amount of AMAZING input you can give your students.
- Students sit in a circle in chairs
- Students go to sleep (remind them about NO peeking)
- I like to play Creepy Doll Music in the background
- YOU walk around the outside of the circle and one at a time, you say which role you are assigning as you walk. MAKE SURE YOU WALK AROUND A FULL CIRCLE before moving to the next character. For example, you say “I am now going to pick the Loup Garou” and after you say that you need to make it ONCE around the circle before saying you’re picking the next character. KIDS ARE SMART, if you DO NOT do this, they’ll figure out WHO you picked based on where they heard your footsteps. You assign a role by touching the students HEAD or shoulder.
- Some people really like to assign characters by passing out cards. This is faster, HOWEVER, my middle schoolers (and elementary kiddos) are not mature enough or coordinated enough to handle the cards without “accidentally” or “accidentally on purpose” flipping their cards over for everyone to see.
- As you assign each role, write the name of the student you assigned next to the correct spot on your notes page
- If you have YOUNGER students, you may want to check, at the end, that everyone knows who they are. Ask each character, one at a time, to WAKE UP, they make eye contact with you, then you tell them to go to sleep again.
- Since assigning the roles can take a while and it is boring and hard to sit silently during that time, I usually wake EVERYONE up, and have them stand and do a quick brain break.Â
- Sit them back down and remind the students what it looks like to SILENTLY point. If they are the Loup Garou, or any other character that “wakes up” during game play, they need to remember that they can’t talk when they’re indicating who they are “attacking”.
- First, wake up CUPID. CUPID HAS TO GO FIRST. Cupid indicates TWO students.Â I write their names in the heart on my notes page. After you tell Cupid to go to sleep, you touch the two student’s heads who Cupid indicated were head over heels in love with each other. After you touch their head you tell them to wake up and look at each other. The temptation for Middle School students to laugh uncontrollably is extreme here. I always turn up the music in case. It is critical that Cupid goes first becauseÂ if cupid picks the Loup Garou as one of the people, they (if they’re smart) will never pick their “lover”. (because remember, if one of them dies, the other automatically does too) Put the lovers to sleep.
- Next, wake up the Loup Garou. Ask them who they are going to attack. Write down who they point to on your notes sheet. If they are taking a while, start to give them a count down from 5 seconds, so that they are forced to make a decision. Ask them to sleep.
- Wake up the witch. Here is another MAJOR difference from Mafia. After you wake up the witch, you say, “tonight, THIS person was attacked”. When you say the word this, indicate by pointing the student who Loup Garou had attacked! Then ask the witch if they want to save that person or not. They indicate with a thumb up or thumb down. If they choose to save the person, their “potion of life” is gone. There is nothing left. (YOU can determine if the potion makes that person immortal for the rest of the game or not)Â Next, ask the witch if she/he wants to use their “potion of death”. They will show you with their thumb if they want to or not and if they give you a thumbs up, they will then silently indicate WHO it is they want to kill. (Smart witches tend to save this until later in the game so they can use it against someone they think is the Loup Garou) Tell the witch to go to sleep.
- Remember that during ALL of this, the sneaky little girl, assuming she/he was being sneaky, has been peeking. HOPEFULLY the Loup Garou didn’t see her and attack her first.
- Wake up the prophet and ask who they believe the Loup Garou is. YOU MUST CONFIRM OR DENY their guess. Nod your head or shake it no to indicate to them if they were correct or not. Tell the prophet to go to sleep.
- STORYTELLLLLLL!!!! This is the BEST part of Mafia and Loup Garou. I really like using EVERYTHING I know about my kiddos to make these stories interesting. For example, if you know a group of the kids went to play basket ball the night before at a local park, use that in the story. Slowly but surely, using extra details about the student who was attacked, reveal who the victim is. They have a sister, an older sister, a sister who goes to this high school, the student is wearing red, the student is in second period science, etc. Eventually the kids figure it out! That student reveals their identity (using the sentence stems you provide them with). The storytelling part is by far the most interesting for kids. It is BEST when you use details about them to make it interesting. This is another time when the PQA you do throughout the year comes in SO handy.
- IF the person who was attacked was a HUNTER, they have 5 seconds to quickly indicate someone else to “take with them” (this student then reveals who they were)
- If the student was ONE of the TWO lovers, it is really important that you make the story about that. You have to build up to it but only at the very end so that the two lovers, don’t give it away by looking at each other and panicking. Once one of them dies, you have to immediately after reveal that the other died two of a broken heart.
- If the student was the LITTLE GIRL, they MUST say they were INNOCENT, because if they have already given any hints away about who they saw, people will immediately know they have all the answers because of their ability to peek.
- NEXT you reveal if they were saved by the witch or not.
- Next, you indicate to everyone WHO the prophet believes to be the real Loup Garou.
- Now that you have weaved this incredible story, you need to get student’s opinions on WHO the Loup Garou is. People who were killed THIS round, can raise their hand for voting purposes but they CANNOT speak.
- I like to find two other “accused” people. I ask students WHY they accuse that person and provide them with sentence stems based on the level of the class.
- If I want to stretch it out MORE, in my higher levels, I can ASK the kids who were accused what their alibis are. These are always really fun!
- Finally, the “community” votes on WHO they think the Loup Garou is and that person is sacrificed.
- BEFORE going into another round, you need to talk to each of the students who were attacked or killed and ask themÂ if they want to be an ANGEL or a GHOST
- Angel- they play with their eyes open, they are now your helpers.
- They can update your roster to indicate who is in what role
- they can take over your note taking (ONLY THE MOST TRUST WORTHY)
- They can ILLUSTRATE the story as you tell it AFTER everyone wakes
- They can ACT OUT The story as you tell it, AFTER everyone wakes
- They can search for peekers
- They can WRITE notes for youÂ (in English or Spanish) on a dramatic story to be told when people wake up. Remember, if you’ve been doing a great job in building community in your class, these kids will think of equally AWESOME ideas because they know the same personal details of their classmates that YOU do.
- They cannot later decide to become a ghost
- Ghost- they play with their eyes closed
- They have the opportunity (ONE TIME EACH TIME THE CLASS SLEEPS) to scream or make a scary ghost sound to spook their peers.
- They can CONTINUE to vote and play as if they are still part of the community but any time they speak they must speak like a ghost. They can also still vote.
- They cannot become an angel later.
- Angel- they play with their eyes open, they are now your helpers.
- Start again from step 10!
- You do not need to wake up Cupid again
- Continue playing until the students uncover the identity of the Loup Garou OR until the Loup Garou manages to eliminate EVERYONE
Here are TWO videos of me playing Loup Garou with a class. Cat has promised me that she is going to share videos of her classes with me playing starting in the new school year! She is going to show you (in her French classes) how she starts after just a few weeks of language instruction, and then she will film throughout the year to show how it gets more complex. As I get those videos I will post them or link to them here.
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS JUST JUMP IN AND TRY IT. There is no ONE way to play either. I don’t think I played exactly like I learned from Cat. I had to learn as I went along. I make mistakes ALL the time too… and before I took notes I used to forget every time what would happen and I would have to ask the kids to sleep again so I could wake the characters up again and ask them WHO they had pointed to…. Sigh… “La Meastra Loca” Anyways…. My point is, you should try. Just jump in. Mafia and Loup Garou are truly, in my opinion the BEST, most engaging vehicles of input out there!
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca