Pirates

Avast, Ye Landlubbers! Below are activities that all have a Pirates theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else! 

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity- Design a Flag to Show Yer Pirate Pride!

For these activities, you will need some pieces of paper, some coloring supplies, maybe some additional construction paper, tape, string, and scissors.

Pirates were known to fly flags on their ships to let others know they meant business. They had flags with their own special design on it to show the ship belonged to them. Sometimes the flags had skeletons on them, sometimes they had weapons on them, and sometimes they had other colors than just black and white.

Design your pirate flag! Think about what symbols you want to use to represent yourself. What colors do you want on your flag? You can use crayons and draw your design, or use construction paper and cut out your design and tape or glue it to a larger piece of paper.

This was Blackbeard’s flag. Captain Calico Jack’s flag.

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity – X Marks the Spot!

Make an authentic-looking pirate treasure map. You will need paper and crayons for this activity.

  • Draw an island on your paper. Name the body of water that surrounds your island (ocean, bay, cove, lake) and write it on your map. Name the island, too!
  • Draw a compass rose in the corner of your treasure map.
  • Include things like hills, mountains, ponds, forests, palm trees, shark fins in the water, and a big X to mark where the treasure is located.
  • When the treasure maps are finished, age the maps by pressing a damp tea bag all over it, or coloring it light brown. Carefully tear the edges to give it a worn look.

Science Experiment – Aye, Wear an Eye Patch!

Not all pirates had eye patches, but it sure makes you look tough if you are wearing one! Even though patches may have been used to cover injured eyes, they may also have been to help pirates see better in the dark!

It takes an average human eye about 25 minutes to fully adapt from bright sunlight to seeing in complete darkness. The eye patch could be used to prepare one eye to see in the dark, so when they would go below deck they could swap the eye patch from one eye to the other and see with the eye that has already adjusted to low light conditions. This would allow them to instantly see in the dark. 

Try it out at home!

  • Cut an eye patch shape out of black or other dark construction paper or felt.
  • Attach a string to either side of the eye patch.
  • Tie the eye patch so that it covers your eye and sits snuggly.
  • Set a timer and go about some of your regular activities (eating, coloring, chores, etc)
  • After the timer goes off, find a very dark room (like a closet or the basement). When you go in and close the door, take off the patch and see which eye sees best.

Science Experiment II – Build Yer Own Pirate Ship, Matey, and then Float Yer Boat!

To do this experiment, you’ll need to collect some recycled materials, tape, aluminum foil, paper, craft sticks, and anything else you think belongs on a pirate ship! You will also need a sink or container of water to float your boat.

Directions

  • Begin by sorting your materials. What material do you think will work best for the base of your boat? Can you combine materials to make the boat bigger? Or to make it more boat-shaped?
  • Will it be leakproof? What other materials can you add to make it leakproof?
  • Once you have a plan for the base of the boat, begin working on building it. 
  • As you build, look at it from all angles. What is it missing? Is there something you can add?
  • Most pirate ships have a center mast (post) with a sail and then a pirate flag. Attach a replica of your pirate flag to your mast once it’s complete.
  • Once you are finished with your boat, see if it can float. When you think it you have the best design that can support weight, add pennies, lego men or other objects. How much weight can your boat hold before it capsizes (takes on water)?
  • Try building several boats with different materials and dimensions. Which boat holds the most weight? Why do you think that is?

Physical Activity

Get some of those wiggles out while pretending to be a little bit piratey!

  • Swab the Poop Deck, Mate! On a ship, the decks were washed regularly to remove any debris that might accumulate. The “Poop Deck” is the deck at the rear of the ship. Have your young pirates help sweep the kitchen, rake the yard or vacuum the living room.
  • Landlubbers, ahoy! Make a telescope out of a piece of paper or tube. Imagine you are on your pirate ship and you spy land through your looking glass. Describe what you see, including what colors, shapes and sizes things are.
  • Polly want a cracker? Flap your wings like a parrot, hop around on one leg like Peg-leg Pete and walk the plank! Or at least, do a plank! What other Pirate-style exercises can you think of?
  • Search for Hidden Treasure! Choose an object (a smallish empty box works perfectly for this) to be the Treasure Chest. Choose one person to hide the box while the others aren’t looking. Then the seekers can search for the Treasure Chest. The one who finds it must shout “I’ve found the Pirate’s Booty!” (Booty is what pirates would call their plunder or treasure). The finder then hides the box for the next round.

Conversation Starters and Research Questions

  • Most pirates were men, but did you know there were several female pirates? Some dressed up and pretended to be men, some joined their husbands, while others were fierce captains of large fleets. Mary Read, Anne Bonney, and Ching Shih are some of the most famous.
  • If you were a pirate, where would you travel on your ship? What countries do you want to see?
  • What would you do if you found buried treasure?

Videos and Websites

Movie/Literature Connection:

Because we know you’re stuck at home with limited access to movies and books, we tried to compile a list that connects to today’s theme that you might already have in your collection or be able to access online. These include:

Movies: Peter Pan, Hook, The Goonies, The Pirate Fairy, The Princess Bride, Muppets Treasure Island, The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Books: 

How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long, 

Shiver Me Letters by June Sobel https://youtu.be/YshqjjQpg8Y

Pirates Go to School by Corinne Demas https://youtu.be/8IrDJ4AxHjo

The Night Pirates by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright https://youtu.be/h2mj5wpZlLw

Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZeL4v2yc-UCaptain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto https://youtu.be/Edy5cWEF6Pg

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