It’s almost King’s Day 2024 in the Netherlands; 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 to learn about Dutch history, the royal family, and matching symbols, customs, and expressions. And, not to mention the super fun and active Koningsspelen.

This article in Dutch.

1. History of King’s Day

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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, which shows what used to happen on each day of the year. 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

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King’s Day (Koningsdag in Dutch) started in 1885 as Prince’s Day. It was to celebrate Princess Wilhelmina’s fifth birthday, but 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 April 27, so Kings Day is celebrated on this date in spring.
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King’s Day 2024

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.
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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. Google can provide 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 current information, beautiful pictures, and information about all kinds of topics, such as history, palaces, the National Anthem, and even our flag rituals.
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3. King’s Day theme and language

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Language is everywhere, and you can use it differently in a theme like King’s Day. Here are a few examples that we use in our online lessons. Of course, you can 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:

  • Feestmaal voor de koning (Feast for the King). By Marlies Verhelst & Linde Faas. King Lion has a birthday and gets a cake. But who has already nibbled on the cake? The book, which includes lesson suggestions and a coloring page, can be checked out via this link.
  • De koning met de paardenoren (The King with the Horse Ears). Written by Eric Maddern and drawn by Paul Hess. It is a digital picture book.
  • Hiep hoi, Koningsdag! By Janny den Besten and drawn by Marijke Duffhauss. With this book, we found this lesson plan with very nice tips.
  • Theater reading is a very fun form of reading that we love to use in our lessons. You can download this theater reading text about King’s Day for free. It is a preview from Hieperdepiep! Feest met theaterlezen, written by Liesbeth Mende, with illustrations by Nelleke Verhoeff.

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 comes 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 using Word Search Maker. Use the words your child knows.
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King’s Day 2023: the spelling

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Two familiar spelling questions about King’s Day and 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 joined together to form a new word. Think, for example, of holidays, free market, bright orange, and koekhappen. An essential condition is that both words must be able to be used independently and thus 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? This day is not dedicated to all the kings in the world but only to ours: King Willem Alexander.
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King’s Day 2024 in our online lessons

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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 learn more about how we work, read more about us through this link.

Crafts for King’s Day with toddlers with language

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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: Use this interactive talking sheet to discuss anything related to King’s Day and, from there, see what you want to make. A crown? Color a coloring page?
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4. Kings games at home

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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 spekhappen (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.

The scouting pages offer great ideas about these old Dutch games, or you can start with 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 2024  is Ontdek je met ons mee? Would you like to participate with your children at home? Then, quickly download the online Do-Package of Kings Games 2024.

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. You can also 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 2024 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).