It’s almost King’s Day 2023; how do you celebrate this festive day? Our teachers at Dutch for Children are already all over it because our Dutch online lessons are not only about the language! But also about the culture of the Netherlands.

All Dutch holidays are excellent occasions for Dutch language and culture lessons, but Kings Day offers some really nice opportunities. It offers opportunities on Dutch history, the Royal Family, matching symbols, customs, and expressions. And, not to mention the super fun and active Koningsspelen.

1. History of King’s Day

This day is a great opportunity if you enjoy walking through Dutch history with your child. You can do this in many ways, for example, through the Canon calendar that shows on each day of the year what used to happen on that day. Also, the Canon of the Netherlands has interactive window slides. Great for our online lessons but also very good to use at home.

A summary of the history

King’s day (Koningsdag in Dutch) started in 1885 as Prince’s Day. This was in celebration of Princess Wilhelmina’s fifth birthday. She was not yet queen; hence Princess Day.

In September 1948, Queen Juliana succeeded her mother. Like Queen Wilhelmina, she celebrated Queen’s Day on her birthday, April 30, 1949. The Queen and her family stood on the steps of Soestdijk Palace and followed the procession of Dutch people giving flowers and gifts to the Royal Family. Under Queen Juliana, Queen’s Day also became an official day off. The celebration grew into a national holiday dedicated to togetherness.

When Queen Beatrix took office, out of respect for her mother, she decided to continue celebrating Queen’s Day on April 30. She chose not to let the people come to her but rather to go to the people herself.

Since 2014, we have called this holiday King’s Day. Our current King Willem Alexander’s birthday is on April 27. Hence, Kings Day is celebrated on this date in spring.

King’s Day 2023

Traditionally, all of the Netherlands turns orange on this national holiday. Most children love to dress up and indulge in orange items, from glasses, wigs, crowns, and horns to a printed Kings Day t-shirt. Nothing is too crazy on the King’s birthday. In addition to the tradition of dressing entirely in orange on King’s Day, there are other traditions typical of this national holiday.

During Koningsdag, for example, free markets are organized throughout the Netherlands. One of the largest and most famous locations is the capital city of Amsterdam. Because free markets are initially meant for children to earn extra pocket money, special children’s free markets are organized.

Old Dutch games remain a hit to this day. Our current King, Willem Alexander, regularly got to participate in biting cookies (koekhappen) on his birthday. Other classics include “donkey tag,” egg walking, spiked hoops, can throwing, sack races, shuffleboard, and stilt walking.

2. The Royal Dutch Family

Many children are interested in kings, queens, princes, and princesses. How do you live as a prince or princess? Where do you live? These are very fun topics to work on. Through Google, you can find all kinds of ideas, craft examples, and online stories. See some tips later in this blog.

Older children may be more interested in the culture of the royal family, its customs, and its rituals. You can also do a lot with this in class and at home.

On the official website of the Royal House, you can find what is current, beautiful pictures, and also information about all kinds of topics such as history, the palaces, the National Anthem, and even what our flag rituals are.

3. King’s Day theme and language

Language is everywhere, and you can use it in a theme like King’s Day in different ways. Here are a few examples that we use in our online lessons. You can, of course, do these with your child yourself.

Good listening

Listen carefully for words associated with King’s Day. This is a so-called auditory exercise. Children hear the sounds and are instructed to say the whole word. The words covered belong to the theme: King’s Day. Click here for these auditory exercises.

Reading about King’s Day

Reading about Kings Day, about kings, queens, and princes and princesses, is something many children love. Children who can start reading or are a little further along (comparable to groups 3,4 in the Netherlands) enjoy these stories by Juf Maike!

Some fun (picture) books in this theme in a row:

Playing with words

Together with your child, create a word field in or around a drawing of a crown. In the word field, a student writes down all the words on the theme or topic that come to mind. Siblings or brothers can, of course, actively participate. Children love it when the field gets fuller and fuller.

Find King’s Day words together in a word search like this one. Or make one yourself! You can do that via word search maker. Use the words your child knows.

King’s Day 2023: the spelling

Two familiar spelling questions about King’s Day and about kings & queens are:

1. Do you write koningsdag or Koningsdag?

All official holidays are capitalized. So it is Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), and it is also Koningsdag (King’s Day).

2. Why is it Koningsdag and not Koningendag? What exactly are the rules about capitalization in compounds?

A compound consists of two words that are joined together to form a new word. Think, for example, of holidays, free market, bright orange, and koekhappen. An essential condition: both words must also be able to be used independently and thus also have meaning separately.

There are two important questions to ask when choosing between -e or -en as middle letters:
– Is the first word of the compound a noun?
– Does the plural of the first part end only in -en (and not in -s)?
Can you answer “yes” to both questions? Then choose -en. 
Is one or both of the two questions answered with ‘no’? Then choose -e.
The rule for the between-s is: When you hear an -s, you write it too.

So why is it Koningsdag and not Koningendag? Because this day is not dedicated to all the kings in the world, but only to ours: King Willem Alexander.

King’s Day 2023 in our online lessons

During our Dutch online lessons, we pay custom attention to this day. For example, lessons with children aged 6 look very different from lessons with 12-year-olds. If you want to read more about how we work, read more through this link.

Crafts for king’s day with toddlers with language

Crafts: Crafting hats or crowns is great fun, but there are many more ideas, which you can find through this link from Kleuteridee. While crafting, give instructions on what your child can do, and discuss shapes, colors, actions, etc. In this way, crafting also becomes a language activity.

Stamp Sheets: stamp or transcribe words about King’s Day from a magazine or newspaper. Or, use one of the worksheets for preschoolers that you can find via Google. For example, Google “preschooler stamping King’s Day” or “vocabulary King’s Day.”

Interactive talking sheet: you can use this interactive talking sheet to talk about anything related to King’s Day and, from there, see what you want to make. A crown? Color a coloring page? Etc.

4. Kings games at home

Do you want to celebrate the King’s Games and King’s Day at home, because nothing is done in the city or the country where you live? Fortunately, there are several very fun ways to do this.

Old-Dutch games

You can set up real Dutch games at home, in the garden or on a playground, such as koek- or spekappen (cookie fighting), throwing cans, sack races, spiked walking and an egg race. Don’t be too quick to think that your children are too old. We had the most fun during the pandemic two years back with our children, aged 14 and 17.

You can get great ideas about these old Dutch games on the scouting pages or make a start on this page.

Kings Games

Watch the youth news together about the King’s Games. Discuss the broadcast with your child, and, for example, create a program for your King’s Day and Games.

The theme of Kings Games 2023  is “1-2 iedereen doet mee’ Would you like to participate with your children at home? Then quickly download the online Do-Package of Kings Games 2023.

Is your child also a fan of singing and dancing? For this edition of the King’s Games, the children in this issue sing a piece of all nine songs from the past King’s Games. From ”Kinderen voor kinderen”.

You can use these short energizers to move even more at your King’s Games.

Finally, the Koningsspelen package is highly recommended if you celebrate Koningsdag or the Koningsspelen at home or abroad. You can find everything here via 1, 2, 3 lesson idea. Download and print. The only thing you “need” to change is the year on the worksheets. Use a thick marker or stick another year over it.

You can do the Escape room King’s Day for your older children. Solve the puzzles and escape this “King’s Day” online escape room.

Does your child also want to learn more about Koningsdag 2023 online?

Does your child also want to learn more online about Koningsdag, how you celebrate your birthday in the Netherlands or how Sinterklaas and Christmas are celebrated in the Netherlands? Make an appointment now to discuss the possibilities for online Dutch language and culture lessons for your child.

I would love to hear from you! With kind regards, Wendy van Dalen (director of DfC).