Pirates are so much fun to learn about. I especially like doing this unit as the weather gets warmer in late Spring or Summer. Pirates are fun and interesting to children but they provide a lot of meaningful learning topics! Start by reading some pirate books from your local library.
My Favorite Pirate Books
There are soooo many awesome pirate books available to read during your pirate unit. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Pirate Pete: As Pirate Pete and his trusty parrot sail the seas in search of gold, they encounter different “troubles” when he goes ashore at Candy Island, Clover Island, Sleepy Island, and Dragon Island.
- How I Became A Pirate: A little boy was at the beach building a sand castle and minding his own business when a pirate ship sailed into view…
- The Pirates Next Door: The Jolley-Rogers have traded in the high seas for suburban life. What kind of neighbor would a pirate make?
- Count With Pirates: How many swords are on the beach? Are there more pirate ships or boats? Count along in this fun book.
- Pirates Love Underpants: This wacky picture book pairs pirates and underwear in an uproarious adventure.
Pirate Code Worksheets
Younger kids can practice letter sounds with these fun, FREE printables from SeaofKnowledge. Your kids will love decoding the puzzles! Older kids could make up their own code. On one piece of paper list all the letters A-Z. Have them draw a different picture or shape beside each letter. Then on a separate piece of paper draw the pictures for each letter in their mystery word or sentence just like the picture below.
Pirate Sight Word Coloring Pages
You’re little ones will love coloring these pirate coloring pages. Practice sight words while still having fun.
Pirate Learning Pack
This 85-page packet is available as a free download from FunwithMama when you sign up for her newsletter. It is full of fun, purposeful activities to do with your child. Puzzles, counting, simple math problems, coloring and a pirate mini-book! These activities would be best suited for preschool-1st grade.
Salt Water Density Test
Since pirates travel on the ocean this is a great time to demonstrate how salt water is different from fresh water. To conduct this experiment you will need four glasses of water. Fill one with salt, one with sugar, one with baking soda. Leave the fourth with only water. Drop small jewels or beads into each glass and watch how some float and some sink. The salt water will keep the jewels afloat the best because salt water is denser than fresh water. The Science Kiddo explains more details.
Cardboard Pirate Ship
Learn the names for different parts of a ship with this free worksheet. Kids will love using the words rigging and hull! Then, create your own real pirate ship out of a cardboard box. Kids can decorate the ship however they like and even make their own pirate flag. Get the directions for the ship here.
Engineering Challenge: Build a Boat
If you want to build a boat but want to let your child get a little more creative instead of following step-by-step directions for the cardboard board above here is a great challenge. This engineering project challenges kids to think about the parts of a boat they have learned and why objects float (salt water density test remember?) in order to build their own boat that can hold objects in water.
- tub of water
- objects to measure capacity like pennies or marbles
- any building supplies you have (coffee filters, index cards, straws, Popsicle sticks, playdough, foil etc).
Tell your child they should try to build a boat that will be able to hold x amount of the objects you’re using to measure capacity (10 marbles or 25 pennies). Give them some time to build and then test the boat. The first time the boat might not work so allow them time to tweak their design. Then test the boat again. Count how many objects you can put inside the boat before it sinks.
Feel Good Teaching has a great video introduction to explain this challenge to your child.
The sun can be used to tell time as well as direction. Learn about how early vikings (and pirates) used sundials for navigation. Then, make your own sundial using the instructions at Krokotak.
Telescopes: Lesson on Refraction
Telescopes are a great lesson on light and refraction. Fill a glass with water and insert a pencil. You’ll notice right away that the pencil looks slightly bigger in the water because water acts as a magnifier. Look at the pencil through the side of the glass. Did it bend? You should be able to see a clear break in the pencil where the pencil enters the water.
Why does the pencil bend? Light travels faster through air then it does water because water is denser. So as the light waves enter the water they slow down and bend in the water. This alters the appearance of the pencil.
Light refraction is the basis for how a telescope works. It uses two lenses to focus the light and make it look like an object is closer to you than it really is. The lenses bend light inwards. Now, create a real telescope using the directions from National Geographic.
Treasure Chest Math
No Pirate unit would be complete without a treasure chest! Start by having your child paint an egg carton to look like a beautiful treasure chest. This is a fun activity on its own. You can add plastic gold coins, glitter, sequins or small jewel stickers to the chest. After, letting the treasure chest dry have your child count and sort different colored jewels in their chest.
Set up the treasure chest with the jewels laid out around it. Ask your child what colors he sees. Demonstrate how to take the tweezers, pick up a jewel and drop it in one of the compartments in the treasure chest. Have them place all the jewels of a certain color into the same compartment, counting the jewels as they add them to the chest. You could also do this activity by sorting the same colored jewels into different sizes. Thanks Rainy Day Mum for this great idea!
And there you have it! I hope you can enjoy some fun and meaningful learning around Pirates with these ideas. Let me know how it goes.
Check out other themed units here: