My children played this game in Mexico when they were little, and my daughter Maggie also played it as a volunteer at El Centro, a Hispanic community center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Children love the suspense of this game – knowing that they will be chased, but not knowing when. The game reinforces Spanish clothes vocabulary and children produce natural, correct Spanish sentences as they sing as a group.
To play, the children join hands and walk or skip in a circle. One child, the wolf, remains outside the circle, a short distance away. An adult can also play the part of the wolf. The children in the circle walk and sing in Spanish “Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está.” (Let’s play in the forest while the wolf isn’t here. Let’s play in the forest while the wolf isn’t here.)
Then they stop and ask “¿Lobo, estás?” (Wolf, are you there?)
The wolf, answers by saying that he/she is putting on a piece of clothing, and acts out putting it on. For example, the wolf might say “Me estoy poniendo los pantalones” or “Me estoy poniendo la camiseta”. (I am putting on my pants, or I am putting on my t-shirt.) As you can see, this is a great way to practice the Spanish words for clothes! The wolf can also be brushing his teeth, eating breakfast, or whatever else keeps him busy.
When the children hear that the wolf is still getting dressed, they begin to walk or skip and sing again: “Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. Juguemos en el bosque mientras el lobo no está. ¿Lobo estás?”
When the children stop and ask if the wolf is there, the wolf answers that he is putting on another piece clothing, or says “Estoy con hambre. Me los voy a comer a todos” (I’m hungry. I’m going to eat you all up.) and runs to chase the children. The children run away. The wolf tags one, who becomes the new wolf. The wolf can put on as many pieces of clothes as he/she likes before deciding to chase the others.
There are many videos of this game available online. You can see an animated version of the game and hear the song in the video the below.
Songs and games like this one are one of the best ways for children to produce Spanish as they are learning the language. The tune and rhythm aid correct Spanish pronunciation, and they learn complete phrases with correct grammar.
So, get your best wolf voice ready and “juguemos en el bosque, mientras el lobo no está….”