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Ahoy! Pirates WOW! a Pirate unit would be lots of fun for elementary students, but I was never sure how to connect it to curriculum standards (especially in this time of SAT9 stress). The other day I thought about connecting lessons and found some ideas that were perfect. Dig right in and help your students enjoy a wonderful bit of fun. This is a great unit to use at the end of the school year when educational interest wanes.


  • writing materials
  • research materials on pirates
  • various art materials


Various types of activities--use those age appropriate...
  1. Have the children write a journal that will become their "ship's log."
  2. Interview an imaginary pirate. Let the children think up the questions that might include where he lived before he became a pirate, why he became one, and many more interesting ideas.
  3. Have the children help you produce a K-W-L chart about pirates.
  4. Students may do a research project on pirates. Find out what famous historical figures that fit the definition of pirate.
  5. Investigate the types of pirates that have existed throughout history. Give examples of each kind. Links-(http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/nortoriouspirates.html)
  6. Learn about a pirates' "code of conduct". Have your class create their own code. Using a Venn Diagram compare and contrast the two codes. Discuss why countries have rules and laws, and what happens to people who choose not to obey them. Discuss this same concept among pirates. Compare and contrast the consequences.
  7. Create an Illustrated Pirate Dictionary. (http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/piratevocab.htm)
  8. Learn about the vocabulary of pirates. Create a dictionary or other journal of these terms. Compare and contrast pirate terms and the terms used today. (http://www.geocities.com/marciateach/shivermetimbers.html)
  9. Research clothing worn by pirates in the years after the colonization of the United States. Write a report, including illustrations, dioramas, or mobiles demonstrating what you found.
  10. Investigate and research the different kinds of ships used by pirates. Do pencil sketches of these ships; create a poster from magazines or other media.
  11. Read and make a book report from one of many fictional or factual books listed about pirates, pirate ships or pirate voyages. These reports could be oral, using art medium or using technology (such as a Kid Pix or Hyperstudio slide show).
  12. Working alone or with team write a play or puppet show staring pirates. Give this play for your class, or another class.
  13. Learn about how to read maps. Investigate where pirates have lived in the world. Illustrate a world map including these places. Label oceans, continents, and landforms. Make sure you have key items on your map that will allow others to understand and read it. (http://sbgschool.com/teacher_activities/social_studies/maps/worldmap.html)
  14. Do more mapping activities. (http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/Map.html),
  15. Design your own deserted island. Include water and food sources for a pirate to use for existence. Include X marks the spot where your pirate buried his treasure.
  16. Create a pirate flag for your special pirate, using original designs.
  17. Learn about the lifestyle of pirates. (http://www.homeworkcentral.com/wow/files.htp?fileid=92837)
  18. Attend sailor's School- (http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/6169/ssch.htm)
  19. Learn sailor's knots- (http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/6169/knots.htm)
  20. Design a pirate costume or hat, making it either authentic or imaginary. Use recyclable materials.
  21. Create a wanted poster for your pirate or an historical pirate. Research carefully what they would have looked like, and what important details wanted posters included.
  22. Create some foods. (http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/piratefood.html)
  23. Research pirate clothing and create a mobile of these items.
  24. Research pirate weapons, ships or pirate music. Write a report, create a mobile or mural demonstrating what you have learned.
  25. Learn about pirate chanties. Using a tape recorder, sing some of these chanties and perform them for you classmates.
  26. Learn about pirate treasures. Discover the coins that were lost. Compare and contrast the value of coins from the times of pirates to current times. (http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/treasure.html) Design your own pirate coin.
  27. Great pirate links, including lesson plans for Treasure Island and other "pirate themed books" (http://geocities.yahoo.com/marciateach/piratelinks.html)
  28. Pirate Dictionary
    • pirate- To make an attempt, or to complete an attack on a ship. A thief of the seas, or oceans. Violence used to steal (by force) the property of another vessel in order to steal gold/treasure.
    • privateer- An armed vessel sailing under the commission of a sovereign power against the enemy.
    • buccaneer- A piratical adventurer of the sea. A person who plunders at the sea, or land from the sea.
    • mariner- One whose responsibility it is to help in navigating a vessel.
    • merchant ship- A ship that is involved in trade/commerce. A cargo ship.
    • galleon- A large square masted vessel of the 1500's used for war, or commerce.
    • booty- Goods obtained illegally. Spoils obtained as a result of war or battle.
    • bounty- Reward or payment, usually from a government, for the capture of a criminal.
    • loot- Gold, money, or other goods obtained illegally
    • plunder- The act of pillaging or robbery.
    • cutlass- A short, heavy, single edged sword, once used predominantly by sailors.
    • mutiny- To rise against authority, particularly a naval or military power.
    • maroon-to isolate. Sailors would leave mutinous shipmates on deserted
    • islands, without any means of survival.
    • jolly roger- Typically a black flag bearing drawn white bones; indicates a pirate ship
  29. Great Books on Pirates: When I began to gather materials for my pirate unit, I went online to my local public library. I was astonished at how many books they had listed for children. So, I ordered them up to review. I then went to my second best source, Amazon.com and looked around there for books..I found tons. I also checked the Amazon Auction. I found quite a few...and here are some of the covers to entice your interest. Here is the list of books on my "great choices".
    • Pirates by Gail Gibbons
    • Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail
    • The Trouble with Uncle by Babette Cole
    • Craft Topics-Pirates by Rachel Wright
    • Grace the Pirate by Kathyrn Lasky
    • Wild Will by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
    • Pirates by Dina Anastasio
    • Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker
    • Pirates: Robbers of the High Seas
    • Pirate School by Cathy East Dubowski
    • The Great Pirate Activity Book by Deri Robins
    • One of the best pirate books I have found is The World of the Pirate by Val Garwood.
    • Pirate Books for the older set-
    • Pirate's Promise by Clyde Bulla
    • Captain Butcher's Body by Scott Corbett
    • The Ghost in the Noonday Sun by Sid Fleischman
    • Pirate Queen by Patricia Reilly Giff
    • Amy's Eyes by Richard Kennedy
    • The Great Piratical Rumbustification by Margaret Mahy
    • The Pirate's Mixed-Up Voyage by Margaret Mahy
    • Captain Abdul's Pirate School by Colin McNaughton
    • The Mysterious Voyage of Captain Kidd by A.B.C. Whipple
    • The Ballad of the Pirate Queens by Jane Yolen
  30. Yummy Pirate Treats: One great thing about teaching kindergarten (and preschool) is that you can integrate all kinds of foods into the curriculum. In The Great Pirate Activity Book by Deri Robins I found has some super food activities...I customized them to my liking and here they are.
    • Scuvy Medication- Pirates looked for as many citrus products as they could find to prevent Scurvy. This is treated with Vitamin C.. Grind up the rind of lemons and oranges. Squeeze the juice of some lemons and oranges to make a tasty drink.(you might need to add a little sugar if it becomes tart)
    • Treasure Chests- Chocolate mini-rolls, jelly beans or M&M's. Cut each mini-roll in half. Put a few pieces of candy inside and replace the top!
    • Hard Tack- Buy some chocolate chip cookies and pretend the chips are weevils!
    • Pirate Jewels- Cut some thread into 14-inch lengths. Using a needle string on chunks of cheese, apple, pineapple, grapes, pretzels and much more. Have a feast.
    • Pirate boats- Toast some bagel halves. Butter or top with cream cheese, jam or melted cheese. Use American cheese slices for a mast by securing them on a tooth pick. Or you can have the children cut out sails from paper and decorate them with their names.
    • Tropical Boats- Cut several oranges, saving the skin in halves. Blend up the orange bits and mix into orange jello. Set the jello mixture into the orange peel halves to set.

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