Below is a list of all the games in the painting.

As you can see from the painting, there are a LOT of games being played. Scholars disagree about which games are depicted. The total number of games hovers around 90 depending on who you ask.

Checkmarked () games have drawings.
Current tally: 49 games done, 40 to go.
Return to the homepage to see the drawings.

  • Ballgame (throwing against a wall?)
  • Bowling with knucklebones
  • Baptismal procession            
  • Barrel riding
  • Bathing one’s feet
  • Before or after the swim
  • Blindhood           
  • Blindman’s bluff
  • Blowing soap bubbles           
  • Bouncing up and down (“making butter”)            
  • Brick grinding (playing apothecary) 
  • Brick laying
  • Bridal procession            
  • Broom balancing
  • Cap of rushes           
  • “Carrying an angel” (hand seat)
  • Carrying torches
  • Child’s stool (chamberpot)           
  • Covering with a blue cloth (“Who sits here in the blue tower?”)
  • Dollshouse
  • Dragging trees for Saint John’s Fire
  • “Duike, duike reve” no English equivalent found?           
  • Fence riding
  • Fence riding attempt           
  • Fighting (two boys)           
  • Follow the leader (conga line)
  • Follow the leader           
  • Gauntlet running
  • Go on a visit           
  • Hanging from a rail
  • Hare and Hound; badger the Bear; Frog in the Middle           
  • Headstand
  • Headstand attempt (cartwheels?)           
  • Hitting the wall
  • Hobbyhorse riding
  • Hockey (?) – playing with sticks
  • Horse Bayard and the Four Heemskinderen           
  • “How many horns does the goat have”            
  • Inflating a bladder
  • Jousting (Windmill tournament)            
  • Joy pennant
  • King of the castle            
  • Knucklebones            
  • Leapfrog            
  • Looking out of windows            
  • Making sand castles (Digging a well [tunnel])
  • Marbles (or skittles?)
  • Mock altar            
  • Mumblety-peg            
  • Odds and evens
  • Owl and owl-coop
  • Piggyback (play-acting?)
  • Piggyback (carrying)
  • Play with a bird
  • Playing drum and flute (whistle)           
  • Playing with dolls
  • Pop-gun           
  • Pot smashing (“blind pots”) !
  • Procession game           
  • “Pulling hair” (orator)
  • Push someone off the bench
  • Rattle (2)           
  • Rolling hoops (two kinds)            
  • Running up an incline
  • Running with a cake (?)
  • Singing at doors           
  • St John’s fire
  • St Nicolas baskets           
  • Shouting into a barrel            
  • Skirt twirling
  • Skittles (or marbles)           
  • Spreading arms wide            
  • Stilt walking (tall stilts)           
  • Stilt walking (short stilts)           
  • Stirring dung (mudpies)           
  • “Stone, stone on the leg”
  • Swatting flies            
  • Swimming (along the shore)
  • Swimming (with a bladder)            
  • Swinging            
  • Top spinning            
  • Tossing hats (round the blind man)            
  • Tree climbing            
  • Tug-of-war            
  • Tying oneself in a knot (sommersaults?)            
  • Urinating
  • Wandering           
  • Wearing a mask
  • Whirligig
     

Credits

I've used two main sources to identify the games. Edward Snow, in his wonderful book, Inside Bruegel (North Point Press, New York. 1997) brings close thoughtful observation and a refreshing dose of common sense to his detailed analysis of Children's Games.

For the most comprehensive lists of games identified by different Bruegel scholars, I've used Sandra Hindman's detailed essay, “Pieter Bruegel’s Children’s Games, Folly, and Chance”, (The Art Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 3. (Sep., 1981), pp. 447-475.)