Pirate Teaching Theme

Aaaaa-h me hearties! Looking for a great summer theme for your kids? Why not have a go at a Pirate Teaching Theme? They will love it!

It offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities, some challenging tasks for those kids that want to go the extra mile and ------ loads of fun!

And there's a few worksheets for you to print off too!

Imaginative Play Area for your Pirate Teaching Theme


I like to start any theme I do with a book Usually I use a story book but this time I decided to look at the DK Eye Wonder non fiction book called 'Pirate'. It was much too advanced to read to them but we enjoyed looking at all the pictures and it allowed them to decide on the kind of 'pirate stuff' they would like to make.

We decided that a 'must have' would be a pirate ship for our Pirate Teaching Theme so that became our first task!

We managed to acquire a huge cardboard box from the local electric shop and cut out 2 portholes, one on each side. We then painted the outside in black [I did however regret this move, as black paint is so unforgiving especially on light summer clothes but heh- ho it was only paint and mums didn't seem too mad!]

Next we made a sail out of a tall cane, the sort you use in the garden, and attached a big paper sail to it with tape. Of course it had to have a skull and crossbones on it. That started a discussion on why pirates have this as their logo and what did it mean?

Then we decided we needed to make some oars just in case there wasn't any wind! We made these from canes as well and, like the sail, we taped on 2 paddle shapes to each end of the canes. 

They were really pleased with their work and couldn't wait to get in it and start playing. Suddenly there was a loud cry.

" How can we get in ?" they ask. The side is too high! 

This was a great opportunity for them to find a solution to the problem.

Two boys went scurrying off and came back holding 2 of the wooden building bricks, put them by the side of the ship and ------ in they climbed!

Now we needed to decide what else we needed to make for our pirate teaching theme.

Pirate Hats for your Pirate Teaching Theme


Pirate hats were the next thing we wanted to make for our Pirate Teaching Theme we decided. They are so easy to make and help the kids slip into the role of any pirate character they like

First we got some sheets of black paper. You can use newspaper or a page from a magazine just as well.

Starting with the paper portrait way up, fold in half.

Then fold in half again to get the centre line 

Now return it to first fold and turn the folded top corner diagonally to line up with the centre fold.

Do the same with the other corner.

Now turn the bottom edge of one side up to meet the triangles and do the same with the other edge. You should now have something that looks like a pirate hat!

The kids can decorate their own by cutting out a skull and crossbones to go on the front.

What else do we need for our Pirate Teaching Theme

Make an Eye Patch

This is a 'must' for any self respecting pirate but did prove difficult for the kids to make.

You will need to have ready some black card, some thin elastic and some scissors.

Allow the children to cut out a circular patch to fit over their eye, out of the black card.

Then cut a piece of the elastic long enough to go around their head + a bit extra for tying.

Now this is where the help is needed!

Probably the easiest way of doing it is to thread one end of the elastic up through one side of the patch and down through the other [like making a stitch] then turn it over so the elastic is not on view and tie the 2 ends together so they fit around the head. To make it even stronger you could tape across the hole to stop it tearing.

Now just 2 more things to make for our Pirate Teaching Theme!

The Captain's Hook. Make your own

The kids will love this one!

An Imaginative addition to your Pirate Theme

You will need to have ready:

  •  a roll of silver foil
  • a pack of plastic or polystyrene cups

What you do is:

Lay 3 rectangles of silver foil on top of one another and turn over the loose ends.

Then roll the layers from the left hand side as tightly as you can until you have a long,thin cylinder of foil.

Next you need to cut a small cross out of the base of the beaker [you might need to help with this bit] and poke the foil through.

Make a hook shape at the free end of the foil and get the kids to hold the other end of the hook inside the beaker.

There you have it! Captain Hook!

Make your own Pirate's Dagger

A real pirate always carries a dagger in his belt. So why not make one for your Pirate Teaching Theme play area? The kids will love it!

You will need to cut out of stiff card the shape of a dagger and cover the knife end with foil. The kids can then paint or colour with felt tip the handle end. And there you have it! A dagger for their imaginative play!

Walking the Plank

I loved this Pirate Teaching Theme activity and so did the kids! Its great to do outside and challenges their balancing skills.

You'll need to raid the gym cupboard though for this task and get your hands on one of those long planks or even better a long wooden bench. You will also need a safety mat for them to jump onto. If it's blue that's even better then it will at least look like the sea! 

If you put this near your pirate ship they will automatically include it in their imaginative play!

Good luck!

Literacy Ideas

Choosing a teaching theme that the kids will get excited about is one of the most important tasks a teacher has to do.Choose a subject that is not age relevant or child friendly and the children switch off before you even get going. 

Once you get an interesting play area up and running, so they can act out for themselves all the ideas you talk about with them you're half way there!

So the pirate ship made, some great additions to the dressing up box added to ,you can start on the hard stuff!

Wanted Poster

You can download your copy of the worksheet here! 

Kids love drawing pictures so if you can find an activity where they begin by using crayons instead of pencils the rest usually follows naturally!

I had a look at pictures of pirates with my class at the start of this task so when it came to draw their own pirates they knew what one looked like!

We talked about what pirates did and that they were often in a lot of trouble. We were going to pretend that everyone was looking for a famous one called Pirate Pete. [You can read the story of Pirate Pete to them later.] and that we needed to draw a picture of him so people knew what he looked like.

I gave them a piece of A4 paper with a WANTED headline and asked them to draw a picture of Pirate Pete!

For older children you could get them to write a description of their pirate in bold letters underneath.

Pirate Acrostic Poem

Write PIRATE vertically down your piece of paper and ask the kids to think of a pirate word for each of the letters. For example

                                       P     PLANK

                                       I      ISLAND

                                       R     ROB         etc. etc.

For more able kids you could brainstorm a story. So for example instead of one single word after each letter you could write a sentence. eg.

  P   Pirate Pete lived on an

  I     Island in the middle of the sea and

 R    Robbed for his booty.

OR if you prefer you can choose one of the  worksheets below and print it off! 

Click here for the Pirate Acrostic Poem

Click here for the Acrostic Poem Story Version

Why do Pirates wear an eye patch?

I always think it's a good idea to get the kids involved in the theme by asking them firstly what they already know about the subject and secondly what they want to find out. This gives them a kind of ownership of the topic and allows them to direct their own learning. 

So'  Why do pirates wear eye patches?' is just one idea. They might come up with far more interesting questions but whatever it is let them do some research for themselves. 

If they are not old enough to do it on their own you could do it during circle time all together with you reading the results out to them.

I found the answer to the patch question quite fascinating. Apparently because pirates were often going from dark to light, the eyes take a few minutes to adjust each time which annoyed them! So by wearing a patch over one eye all the time they could switch it from one eye to another depending where they were. The eye with the patch obviously the dark eye , the other the light one! Clever stuff!

We made a display board with all the answers on it and lots of great paintings of pirates and pirate stuff for our Pirate Teaching Theme!

Make your own Treasure Map


This Pirate Teaching Theme activity covers several strands of the curriculum and you can focus on the part relevant to your children.

First you need to discuss with the children the purpose of maps. Why did pirates use maps and how do we go about drawing them?

So, we are all pirates and we have some special booty that we want to hide on an island until we need to use it. Safe from other pirates and all those people after us. We are going to make our own maps of an island and mark on it where we put our treasure.For young children you might need to tell them that when we draw a map we have to pretend that we are flying above the island and what we see from the air is what we are going to draw.

Next you can discuss what might be on the island and how we can easily draw those things such as palm trees, forests ,lakes and beaches. You could also use this as an opportunity to include some rainforest activities.

Then for older children it is important to talk about co-ordinates as a way of noting where the treasure is hidden.

After they have made their pirate maps for their Pirate Teaching Theme you could suggest the dip their maps in cold tea. This will make them look old and more authentic! Allow them to dry and use in your pirate display.



If you fancy buying one of these books just click on the title!

Arty Stuff

Design a Pirate Flag

A pirate flag for your Pirate Teaching Theme is a must!

As you don't want all the flags to be identical it's a good idea to brainstorm some ideas with the class before you start.

Questions such as 'What could Pirate Pete have on his flag?

'Does it have to be a skull and crossbones or

'Can you think of something else that looks just as scary?'

When the kids have got some ideas together you could give them the materials they might need and let them get on with it by themselves. This way you'll have a great selection of different designs to put up on the display board.

Materials you might need:

  • Some different coloured cut out flag shapes
  • Some sheets of white paper + other colours too
  • Glue
  • scissors
  • fabric [spotty if you can find some]
  • a stick to attach the flag to
  • paint 
  • felt tip pens
  • an adult to lend a hand!

Good luck me hearties!

Make a Pirate's Treasure Chest

This easy crafty idea can be used in the pirate play area or taken home to house all their little bits of treasure collected over the years.


You will need:

  • an egg box for each child
  • paint
  • a shiny button or small round stone to be the clasp
  • some shiny items to put inside
  • glue
  • sequins 

Paint the egg box whatever colour you see fit for a pirate treasure box. You could even decorate the top with shiny sequins.

When dry, glue the button on the front and stash your treasure inside! The next crafty idea might be useful booty too!

 Coins for your treasure chest


Why not make some coins for your treasure chest?

This is a great idea for your Pirate Teaching Theme and doubles up as a maths activity too!

First make some play-doh. For this you will need 

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cornflour
  • teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly mix in the water and then the vegetable oil.

It should be a good consistency, not too sticky and not too dry. Add a bit more water or flour to adjust if necessary.

Now you can let the kids loose on the play-do making coins of different sizes and pressing real coins into them to make an imprint.

Once they seem happy with their stash you will need to put them into a cool oven for a few hours to harden them up. 

Lastly you will need to source some thin tin foil. Wrap a small piece around each coin pressing it well down so the imprint will show.

Or if you prefer you can paint them with some silver or gold paint.

And there you have your stash of dosh for your pirates!

Use them for counting, addition and subtraction too as well as in your pirate ship play area.

Pirate Songs for your topic

 A Pirate went to sea sea sea 

 The pirate Song

The big ship Sails on the Alley Alley O

We re going on a treasure hunt.

What shall we do with the drunken pirate?

Ten little Pirates standing in a line

If you don't know the words or the tunes for these songs try 'googling' them there's loads of 'u tube' material out there!

Pirate Cooking Ideas

Orange Sail Ships

      Lovely Pirate Teaching Theme simple snack idea.

All you need is

  • an orange [easy peeler is good, then the kids can do it themselves ] 
  • a small rectangle of paper to draw a pirate flag design on
  • a cocktail stick with one sharp end taken off for safety reasons.

This is so simple all children whatever age, can make their own sail ship. Just peel the orange, break it into slices and once the kids have decorated their flag pierce the stick through it and attach it to the orange slice. You might want to use them as a display before you eat them or perhaps make another one to eat!

Pirate Bananas


When I first came across this pirate theme idea I thought these looked a bit contrived and not the sort of thing a child would think of making.

But the kids loved them and I must admit when we had finished them they did all look very different from one another and they didn't look teacher made either!

So all you have to do is give the children a black felt tip pen and get them to draw a pirate face on the stalky end of their banana. Don't forget the patch over one eye!

Then on the bottom half of the unpeeled banana wrap a spotted or striped napkin around it, folding it into a triangular shape first.

Then I stuck the ends with a piece of sticky tape to hold it together and there you have it.

Pirate Pete for your Pirate Teaching Theme!

I find this is also a good time to introduce some food teaching theme ideas. 

I hope you and your class enjoy these pirate teaching ideas! Don't forget to remind them about the dangers of the seven seas and to be sure to carry a life raft on their pirate ship just in case they happen to get shipwrecked!

5 Fun Pirate Facts

 1 One of the most famous pirates was a pirate called Blackbeard. His life was short as he died when he was only 38. He was renowned to be one of the cruellest pirates to sail the seven seas.They would rather surrender to him than fight him. Why? Because he was alleged to be bonkers ! He would set himself alight before going into battle and was thought to be the DEVIL!

 2. Calico Jack was another notorious pirate who became famous for having 2 women pirates under his command. He too died at an early age.

3. That leads us on to the next fact that not all pirates were MEN! There were 2 famous women pirates who donned men's clothing and changed their names to become PIRATES! Mary Read and Anne Bonny both kept their secret until Anne developed feelings for Mary and felt a need to open up! A difficult situation or what!

4. Pirates didn't wear ear rings just to look cool. They believed that by wearing piercings made of precious metals it would improve their eyesight and aid their health!! Weird or what!?

5. Walking the plank was not as popular as it was suggested in stories.Although it was used as a means of punishment, far more popular was something called KEELHAULING. This was far more grotesque! It involved the tying of a length of rope around the bottom of the ship and the 'MISCREANT' would be attached to the the rope and hauled underneath time and time again until he/she was either dead by drowning or cut to bits by barnacles! Lovely!

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