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Sample Parent Guide

for The Secret Ingredient: A Story about the Netherlands

Making It Interactive

Talking it over

The Secret Ingredient takes place in a small town outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. While in larger towns in the Netherlands stores are generally open on Sundays, smaller villages close down, so people can spend time with their families. This makes for a relaxing day of biking, walking along the canals and playing in playgrounds, but it creates quite a problem for Jasper’s family, as they have nowhere to buy ingredients.

  • What do you think about stores being closed on Sundays? Do you think it’s a good idea? What are some of the things you’d like to do if your family couldn’t go shopping or run errands once a week?
  • Do you think you’d like to try and eat raw herring like the the Dutch do?
  • How much milk do you drink every day? Is it as much as someone from the Netherlands? Before you answer, see the “Did you Know” section below!
  • What is your favorite Vincent van Gogh painting? Jasper’s favorite is Starry Night.
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Throw a cheese tasting party

The Dutch are known for a few things — cheese is one of them. How “cheese literate” are your children? Do they know Gouda from Swiss or Edam from white cheddar?

Go to the cheese counter at the supermarket and get a variety of cheeses for your own cheese tasting party. Make sure you buy sparkling grape or apple juice to accompany it as well as some nice crackers. Have them talk all about what they really think about the different cheeses. Make sure to throw in at least one really stinky cheese, just to truly make it Dutch!

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For fun crafts to go along with the story, check out the Around the World Stories Netherlands Pinterest Board!

Netherlands Pinterest Board
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Homemade Stroopwafels

In the Netherlands, the stroopwafel is a very popular companion to coffee, tea or any other warm drink. The proper Dutch way to eat them is to place the waffle on top of a hot cup and to let the steam soften the outside of the waffle and warm the insides. Click to get Mrs. Wilkerson’s prize-winning stroopwafel recipe — now complete with the secret ingredient.

Stroopwafel recipe

Did You Know?

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Dutch fun facts

  • Dutch people love their dairy and drink almost 706 pounds of milk per person every year. That’s 83.5 gallons or 1350 cups!
  • The Netherlands exports two-thirds of the world’s total fresh-cut plants, flowers, and flower bulbs.
  • After Scandinavians, the Dutch are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. They drink no less than 140 liters of coffee a year on average. That’s 3.2 cups a day.
  • Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh painted 900 paintings in 10 years. Unfortunately, he only sold one of them during his lifetime.

Vincent van Gogh

An artist ahead of his time.


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Dutch words

Try pronouncing these Dutch words, just not with your mouth full of stroopwaffel please.

  • Dank je (DANK ya)  — thank you
  • Nee dank je (nay DANK ya) — no thank you
  • Goedemorge (khoo-der-mor-khern) — good morning
  • Papa — dad
  • Mama — mom


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Secret Ingredient word games

After reading the story, try this crossword and word search.

Word Games

More to Explore

Americans trying Dutch food

Watch some of the reactions Americans have to trying Dutch food for the first time. The stroopwafel seemed to be a hit.

Would you try this?

The best part in this video has to be when the mom feeds the fish to her baby! You’ve got to love that!