MYSTĒRIUM: A Whodunnit Game In Latin

**Updated 5.9.22 with a new Whodunnit and its folder**

My students have had a decent time playing our RPG lite “The Game” series, so I went looking for something else with more interaction and collaboration that first year language students could handle on their own without me leading it like The Game. I stumbled across this first-day History class activity from a while back. To be clear, I loath group work for the sake of group work, and have found a lot of it to be a near-complete waste of time. Therefore, I didn’t just want a “who dunnit?” kind of game that meant nothing with barely any Latin processed. I also loath tasks using language that’s way too hard for students to understand. It’s pointless and frustrating, for all of us. That all brought me to coming up with a series of clues and distractions, all using high frequency Latin that first year students could understand in the second half of the year.

The idea behind this whodunnit is for a group of students to reconstruct the events of something—usually not good, but doesn’t have to be violent or upsetting—from a collection of clues. For this first one, I went with a basic print & distribute, although you could treat it almost like an escape room with puzzles getting solved and clues being turned into the teacher in order to move on to the next puzzle. Too much work if you ask me, though. Here’s the basic outline of what I gathered:

  • Culprit & their motive
  • Real clues
  • Distractions (e.g., contradicting statements, alibis, etc.)
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Grumio, in the Triclinium, with the Gladius: Integrating Culture

**Updated 12.13 with this clue tracking sheet for teams**

Latin Clue - Roman VillaEvery Latin program has that perfunctory “Roman house” unit in which students memorize the layout and names of various rooms in a vīlla or domus, and then read (or translate) a narrative loosely connected to those rooms. This got me thinking; is there a more meaningful way to learn about the Roman house through a game? To be clear, gamification usually sucks (e.g. playing a board game to teach prepositions), so the key is to align the game objective with a communicative task in Latin. On Episode 42 of Tea with BVP, Bill stated that “we communicate in order to learn, build, create, entertain, and socialize,” so what better task covering at least 3 of those purposes than a “whodunit” based on Clue™?

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