Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Childhood Games Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Culture

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year! I know I am a bit late on the congratulations, but it is my first post of the year and I would love to wish all the blog readers the very best for 2016….may it be a year filled with love, happiness and lots of Dutch language and culture experiences!

New Year's Day Fireworks over Ermelo (2015)


Yesterday, I was working with at a basisschool with students from groups 4 and 5. As our last English activity, I told them we would play “Simon Says.” They looked baffled! I asked if anyone had ever played “Simon Says” or knew how to play it and got nothing. After a quick explanation and a few trial runs, the students were familiar with “Simon Says” and we proceeded to play.

As I was going home, a question dawned on me….what kind of games do Dutch children play? If “Simon Says” isn’t so common, which games are?

I started asking around to friends and family and the responses were great! Some of the games are similar to others from my childhood while others are brand new! There are just three of the many games my Dutch friends and family shared.

  • zaklopen

Zaklopen is perhaps a universal game for children. Like the name says, you walk with a bag or sack on your feet. Since you can’t take steps with the sack, you must jump and beat the others to the finish line. 

  • spijkerpoepen

This game has a really funny name! It means pooping nails, but I promise you the game is not about pooping! You tie a rope to your waist and leave a long piece of the rope hanging from your behind. You tie a nail or something similar to the end of the rope and you must try to insert the end of the rope to a bottle that is on the floor. 

  • appelbijten

Apple biting is another game that seems to be universal. You simply put your hands behind you and try to catch an apple with your mouth. The apples are usually in a bucket of water so they move around. https://youtu.be/iTECGK4OqfA

What kind of games did you play as a child?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Pete Swanson:

    I went to grammar school in Holland, there was:

    Knikkers, honkbal, verstoppetje, Boter Kaas en eijeren, there were so many.

    But my favorite was:

    Een twee drie vier fijf zes zeven, wie moet ik een kusje geeven?


    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Pete Swanson Pete, I have never played that game but I can see why you (or anyone) would like it! Thank you for sharing more Dutch children games 🙂

  2. Bill:

    We had simon says, sack races and bobbing for apples here in the US in the 80s. My kids are 3 and 6. I’m not sure what they do today, but I am going to ask the 6 year old tonight.

    • Karoly G Molina:

      @Bill Bill, I am curious to know what your 6 year old said!