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Pirate Lesson Plan

Courtesy of Tami L. Maldonado-Mancebo
Early Childhood Curriculum Consultant, Omaha Public Schools

This themed unit allows students to develop a variety of academic skills as they explore the life adventures of pirates.

Download a printable version of this lesson plan.

Learning Objectives: Language skills, spatial concepts, problem solving, grouping, sequencing, identification, labeling, imitation and role playing, and fine and gross motor development.

Literacy Center
Provide students with stamps and writing supplies to tell tales about pirates. Create treasure maps. Have students take paper grocery bags & wrinkle them up. Instruct students to tear the bags apart to make a map area any size that they’d like. You can use manila paper or brown construction paper if you’d prefer. Have students draw out things on their pretend treasure map (trees, caves, rivers, boat docks & of course the “X” which marks the spot for the buried treasure).

Arts and Crafts Center
Make a telescope from a paper towel tube. Cover with paper and decorate with markers.

Treasure Chest
Provide each child with a shoebox. Hand out child-safe scissors, glue and assorted decorative materials so each student can make a treasure chest. Use materials like foil wrap, buttons, ribbon, pearls, wrapping paper, beads, etc.

Collect lots of rocks. Paint the rocks gold. Hide the “gold” in a sand table or outside. A variation would be to paint the rocks with white glue mixed with powder paint. Then stick on sequins and glitter.

Large Pirate Ship
Make a large pirate ship out of an appliance box. Make a flag with a skull and cross bones and make eye patches and spyglasses for all of the children to use. Oatmeal containers could become cannons; a bike tire can be the wheel for the ship, etc.

Pirate Costume
For eye patches, cut out an egg carton cup, paint it black, and tie two pieces of yarn to it. For thePiratehat bandana, cut a large triangle from red tissue paper or red fabric and tie it around the child’s neck. For the hat, make a boat shape out of newspaper and let the kids paint it black and paint on a white skull and crossbones.

Pirate Paper Dolls
Give the kids a magazine and ask them to find clothes that a pirate would wear and cut them out. Then have the students draw a pirate, take the clothes that have been cut out of the magazines and dress them up like paper dolls.

Dramatic Play Center
Pirate Dress-Up
Make hats or tie bandanas around students’ heads. Draw on a mustache with eyeliner and hang a shower curtain ring over one ear. Using paper or felt and cut out a band and eye patch for each pirate. Make vests out of old shirts with the sleeves, with the collar and buttons removed. Make binoculars by attaching two cardboard rolls together. Use poker chips as the booty for the hidden treasure hunt.

Pirate Ship
Make a ship out of large cardboard boxes.

Pirate Costumes
Use pirate costumes and accessories to dress up like pirates. Use newspapers to make sailor hats. Fold a sheet of newspaper in half. Fold down each side to make 2 triangles. Fold one bottom flap up until it covers the bottom of the triangle. Flip the hat over and fold the other bottom flap up to the same level. Add a bit of scotch tape to hold it together.

Math Center
Buried Treasure Math
Buy tiny treasure chests and place them in the sandbox or hide them around the room. These can also be used as a color recognition activity as well as a counting activity. Ask each child how many boxes they found, how many red ones, how many blue ones, etc.

Treasure Color Recognition and Counting Activity
Cover an old box with bright paper and lots of trim. Put different treasures inside the box. Use this as a color recognition activity and ask one child to bring you 2 blue bandanas from the box, another to bring you 4 red strings of beads, etc. You can also put various shapes of paper in various colors inside the box. Ask one child to bring you 4 green triangles, another to bring you 2 yellow circles and 1 purple square, etc. This is a great color, shape recognition activity.

Science/Discovery Center or Sensory Tables
Sunken Treasure
Soak pennies in several different solutions (gelatin, water, broth, salt water, etc.) to see the results. Bring in floatable & non-floatable items and allow the students to guess which items will sink or float.

Pirate Cove
Section off an area of the classroom with a black curtain that is ripped into strips for kids to go through. Inside the cove have a search for buried treasure. Use a trunk if possible, or use a box painted with skull and crossbones. Add in lots of play sand, “booty”, and little novelty treasures for kids to find. Make treasure bags with crossbones on them for the kids to put the “treasures” in. Have another box of sand with “sea shore” friends and gather shells and seaweeds to put in the box of sand.

Buried Treasure
In your sensory table of sand, burry gold foiled chocolate coins and pretend they are gems for your pirates to dig up.

Wave Jars
Set out baby food jars, vegetable oil, water and food coloring. Instruct students to fill one of the baby food jars halfway with water and add two or three drops of food coloring. Fill each child's jar to the top with the oil. Screw the lid on tightly. If necessary, seal the lid with hot glue and allow it to cool. Let the children shake their wave jars back and forth to create waves. You could also add a small floating toy, like a rubber duck, before gluing shut.

Walnut Boats
Make little pirate boats out of 1/2 a walnut shell. You can also use plastic milk lids if some students have nut allergies. Insert some play dough or some other sticky substance to the bottom, attach a toothpick with a little paper sail, and have pirate ship races.

Block Center
Students can create their own islands and pirate ships using wooden or interlocking blocks. Set out paper for students to use to create trees, water, plants, etc. Add seashells and plastic plants to place on the island.

Large Group Activities
Treasure Box Lock
Create a treasure box that has a lock on it. Hide lots of keys and let the children find the keys to open the treasure.

Island Hopping
Place several pillows around a large open area. Tell your students they are islands. Have the children hop from island to island without falling in the water. You could also use paper and tape the small islands to your floor. Make up stories about pirates and alligators while playing.

Walking the Plank
Toss water balloons at the pirate as he/she walks along the balance beam. This is best if done outside.

Capture the Parrot
Divide students into 4 teams and number off the players on each team so that each team has the same corresponding numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc…) Mark off a large square area using 4 cones to mark the out of bounds. Place the parrot in the center. Call any number and the students from all 4 sides with the corresponding number will run to the middle to try and catch the parrot before all of the other pirates can. Since pirates are sneaky, they must try and get the parrot without touching or being touched by members of the other team. When a student gets control of the parrot, they need to run back to their side of the square without being tagged by an opponent. If the student is tagged, the parrot returns to the center and another number is called. The team with the most returns to their side without being tagged is the winner.

Cannon Ball Toss
Tie a piñata up for kids to take aim. Have students take turns throwing balls at the piñata until it breaks & the candy treasure falls to the ground for all to gather up & enjoy.

Treasure Game
Cut circles from cardboard and wrap each circle in aluminum foil to represent coins. Hide the coins around the classroom. To begin the game, announce that another group of pirates snuck onto the ship and have stolen all of the treasure (let students know how much treasure is missing – 10, 11, 12, coins, etc...). Everyone must all look for and rescue our treasure.

Food Activities
Swashbuckling Bread Sticks
Have a make-believe sword fight with bread sticks. The object is to break down your opponent's bread stick without damaging your own, or with as little damage as possible. When one player's bread stick becomes so short that he or she can no longer use it, the player surrenders the stub and is forced to "walk the plank."

Buried Treasure
Make blue gelatin and place candy “treasures” inside, so when students scoop into the “ocean” they can find their own treasures.

Pirate Ships
Make boats from halved bread rolls covered with peanut butter then with paper sails on pretzel sticks.

Exotic Nectars
Mix fruit juice with coconut milk. Pineapple juice works great, too.

Home School Connection
Basic facts to reinforce learning at home:
• Pirates are fascinating and adventurous characters that can help children develop more imaginative play skills.
• Pirate scenarios create a great environment for children learn how to interact and work with others.
• Through imitation and role-playing, children are able to re-create the days of famous pirates in history.
• Through the experience of classroom treasure hunts, students will be able to develop strong problem solving skills, will learn to recognize social cues, develop language skills, and become more aware of spatial relationships.
• Pirate play helps in the development of both large and fine motor skills.

Now that your students have explored the life adventures of pirates, look for more fun lesson plan ideas.