September 19th is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” but any time is a fun time to pretend you’re a swashbuckling pirate.  Learn all about the terrors of the high seas by having a Pirate Theme Day with your family.

Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.



For some swashbuckling music listen to the instrumental tune “Jack’s Suite” by Hans Zimmer and Oakenfold inspired by the Disney films Pirates of the Caribbean.

For some Pirate songs find a version of “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” (try the band “Arrogant Worms” or “Captain Tractor”) or find “Drunken Sailor” (try the band “Great Big Sea” or “Captain Tractor”).




You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Pirate coloring page” or print out my Pirate Flag Coloring Page.



Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook:  What kind of treasure would you like to find if you were a pirate? What would be fun about a life at sea?  What would some bad things about being a pirate? What would your pirate name be?

 Choose the level of your child:

¨     Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer

¨     Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.

¨     Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.

¨     Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response.  (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)

¨     Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).

¨     As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a pirate adventure story or a poem of warning found on a treasure map.


Print out a Pirate Word Search:  Easy Pirate Word Search or Moderate Pirate Word Search.


Check here for the answer keys:  Easy Pirate Word Search Key or Moderate Pirate Word Search Key.



Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books on or about pirates


Go to the library with your child to find some books about pirates.


Go to the library on your own to find books about pirates from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day.  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “pirates” under “Children’s Books”).  Reserve them if you can to save time.


Read some of these nonfiction/learning titles if you can find them:


· The Pirate’s Handbook: How to Become a Rogue of the High Seas, by Margarette Lincoln, Scholastic Canada Ltd, 1995 – Combining history, old illustrations, crafts (buckles for your shoes), recipes (for ship’s biscuits), and other activities (like writing your own pirate code of conduct), this is a great book with lots of details and fun for a pirate theme day.


· Pirates: Facts, Things to Make, Activities, by Rachel Wright, Franklin Watts, 1991 – Another great book with lots to learn and do, it even includes the parts of a ship, sailing knots and sea chanties.


· Pirates: Robbers of the High Seas, by Gail Gibbons, Little Brown and Company, 1993 – With picture book-type illustrations the text in this book offers simple history about pirates.


· What if you Met a Pirate?: An Historical Voyage of Seafaring Speculation, written and illustrated by Jan Adkins, Roaring Brook Press, 2004 – Each section answers a question like How would you know a real pirate?, who got to be a pirate?, What did a pirate ship look like ?, What did pirates do all day? And includes lots of illustrations along with interesting and informative text.


Try to find some of these pirate picture books:

· The Ballad of the Pirate Queens, by Jane Yolen and illustrated by David Shannon, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995 – This lyrical book featuring great acrylic paintings tells the story of two true woman pirates, Anne Bonney and Mary Reade, who sailed with “Calico Jack” Rackham in the early 1700’s and defended the ship on their own while the men played cards and drank rum down below.

· Do Pirates Take Baths?, by Kathy Tucker and illustrated by Bernard Westcott, Albert Whitman & company, 1994 – Each page offers a humorous rhyming answer to a number of pirate questions.

· How I Became a Pirate, by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon, Harcourt, Inc., 2003 – Young Jeremy Jacobs relays the story of meeting pirates one day at the beach in this humorous and wonderfully illustrated book.

· Pirates Don’t Change Diapers, by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon, scholastic Inc., 2007 – in this sequel to How I Became a Pirate, Jeremy Jacobs is visited again by his pirate friends but this time they need to help him look after his baby sister before he can help them dig up the treasure in his back yard.

· Pirate Girl, by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer, The Chicken House, 2003 – This is a cute book about a brave girl who is kidnapped by pirates, who ends up being the daughter of the fiercest pirate of all, Barbarous Bertha.

· Pirates, Ho!, by Sarah L. Thomson and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin, Marshall Cavendish Children, 2008 – This rhyming book has a band of pirates relaying all the things that make them pirates.

· Sail Away, by Florence McNeil and David McPhail, Orca Book Publishers, 2000 – The illustrations in this book start with a boy in full pirate costume dragging his toys into the bathroom and then the animals become real as the boy and his crew prepare to sail an imaginary book using only nautical phrases.  The back of the book has a glossary of “Sailor Talk” explaining what each phrase meant.




Check out these sites to discover your pirate name:

This one is our favourite - http://www.piratequiz.com/

Here are two other sites to try if your child doesn’t like the name from the first site: http://www.piratename.net/  or http://gangstaname.com/pirate_name.php

NOTE: For an additional craft make a name tag using blank address tag stickers.  Write your name on it and decorate with drawings or stickers to proudly display who you arrrrrrrre!


Dressing up like a pirate can be pretty easy. Find a bandana and wrap it on your head for a quick costume. Wear ratted torn clothes for further effect and don’t forget your pirate sword and eye patch from the above crafts.


If you have old pirate Halloween costumes reuse them for some pirate fun on this theme day.


Try the following crafts which are designed to help your child to create you’re a pirate costume:



Materials: Cardboard, tin foil, glue stick, child-safe scissors, crayons and markers, face cloth for sticky fingers.


Step 1: Draw a simple sword shape on the cardboard (remember it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect your child will love it non-the-less).  For an easy sword shape draw a long lower case ‘t’.

Step 2: Help your child cut the sword shape out of the cardboard.

Step 3: Have your child apply glue to the part that will be the blade of the sword (the long part of the ‘t’) and wrap tin foil around to make a silver blade.

Step 4: Have your child decorate the hilt of the sword (the top part of the ‘t’) with crayons and markers.




Materials: Black yarn, black felt (from a craft store or if you want black paper but the paper eye patches don’t last as long), sharp scissors (to be used by adult only, or a hole punch if you are using paper instead of felt).


Step 1: Cut out a patch shape (mostly circular) from the felt (or paper if using).

Step 2: Make two little slits near the top edge on either side (or make two hole punches).

Step 3: Thread yarn into holes and tie.

Step 4: Tie the patch on your little pirate’s head.



Grab a newspaper and check out this web page for instructions on how to make a pirate hat: http://www.uggabugga.com/Arts%20&%20Crafts/Origami/Origami%20-%20Hat%20Instructions.htm




Materials: coloured paper, pirate stickers, markers and crayons (optional).

Step 1: Give your child the stickers and paper and have him/her either make a scene or a collage with them.

Step 2 (Optional): See if your child wants to embellish the picture with markers or crayons by drawing a setting for the pirate stickers.




Materials: 2 white paper plates, grey and black paint, staples, markers, pirate stickers (optional), tape.


Step 1: Cut the centre out of one white paper plate so you have a small hoop and paint it black on the bottom side. Paint the other paper plate grey.

Step 2: Let the hoop and second paper plate dry.

Step 3: In the centre of the second paper plate write your child’s pirate name and decorate with stickers if desired.

Step 4: Staple the hoop to the grey painted paper plate to form the window frame of the porthole.

Step 5: Fold tape and place on the back to tape the porthole to your pirate’s bedroom door.



              DESIGN YOUR OWN FLAG:

Materials: Coloured paper, child safe scissors, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.


Hint: You can cut out various shapes before hand for your child to use.  Pirate flags often have daggers, skulls, bones and crossbones, even hearts as we discovered in our research.


Step 1: Let your child draw and cut out pirate designs (or do it for him/her).

Step 2: Let your child arrange and glue the shapes to a rectangular piece of coloured paper (your child’s choice).

Step 3: Display your pirate flag.


NOTE: You can easily change this craft into a Birthday Party Pirate Game by giving each party guest a small piece of construction paper cut into a flag and stickers and markers to decorate it.  Then draw or paint a simply pirate ship on a large piece of construction paper (or have your Birthday Boy/Girl draw it) and play Pin the Flag on the Pirate Ship.



Materials: A piece of white paper, pencil, a permanent marker, a used tea bag (cooled).

Step 1: Have your child draw a shape for the island on the map.

Step 2: Let your child draw in pencil the different landscapes or traps on the map and of course where X marks the spot is.

Step 3: Help your child trace the picture in permanent marker.

Step 4: Show your child how to blot the paper with a used tea bag to discolour the paper and make it look old.

Step 5: Make gentle tears along the edges and then crumple the paper and then straighten it to make it look old as well.


Look for any Pirate related crafts at your local craft store, including stencils, stamps, wooden pirates to colour on, or foam kits.




Citrus Grog (aka Orange Limeade): Pirates used to travel with barrels of limes to avoid scurvy.  Make a citrusy drink for a pirate beverage.

Ingredients: 2 oranges, 3 limes, ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, more water, ice.

HINT: A lemon squeezer is a great little gizmo for kids to use and well worth the slight investment to purchase one.

Step 1: (Parent step) Put ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan and heat over medium until sugar is dissolved.  Pour in your juice container and put in the fridge to cool off (cool to the touch).  You may want to do this step ahead of time.

Step 2:  Cut the oranges and limes in half and then let your child use the lemon squuezer to juice them. 

Step 3:  Pour collected juice into the cooled sugar syrup made in step one and mix with a wooden spoon.

Step 4: Add more water to fill the juice container and ice.  Optional, cut an additional lime and orange into thin slices to sit in the limeade for a fancier look.


Pirate Treasure Treat Necklace—String Cheerios, lifesavers or any other cereals and candies with holes in them through a piece of yarn, tie it up and wear it or eat it!


Tuna Boats:

Ingredients: Whole wheat hot dog buns, a can of tuna (drained), mayonnaise, relish, cheddar, tooth pick.

Step 1: In a bowl mix the drained flaked tuna with mayonnaise and relish, to taste.

Step 2: Spread tuna on a cut hot dog bun and close the bun.

Step 3: Cut a thick slice of hard cheddar into a triangle as a ship’s sail and carefully stick a toothpick into one end and then place it on the top of the bun to make the bun look like a ship.



What better sea-faring food than Fish or fish sticks for dinner. 


X Marks the Spot Muffins:

Use your favourite blueberry muffin recipie (or look online for one) but don’t mix blueberries in the batter.  Instead, scoop plain batter into your prepared muffin tin and place a single strawberry (the pirate’s jewel) in the middle of each muffin, gently pressing down so the batter covers it completely.  Bake as usual and then use prepared icing to draw an “X” on top of each muffin.


If you are feeling very ambitious make a Treasure Chest Cake.  I made ours for my son’s 7th Birthday party.  Make a rectangular cake, cut it in half so the bottom half hollowed out holds the treasure (candies) and the top rests over it on an angle.  Decorate with icing and candy. Yum!




Interested in the origins of International Talk like a Pirate Day? Check out their official site: http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html

For some history on Piracy look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates

This site had a lot of pirate information: http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/




Print out my Talk Like a Pirate Matching Worksheet and see if you can match the phrase with the meaning. Check here for the Talk Like a Pirate Answer Key.



Prepare a treasure hunt for you kids by making a map of rooms in your house or your backyard for them to follow and offer a small prize at the end like stickers or a treat to eat. 


Have your child make a map for you to follow around the house/yard.



Print out my Pirate Charades Worksheet and cut out each word to place in a jar, hat or paper bag.  Play charades as a family drawing the words (work in teams with little ones who cannot read yet).


Q:  Why could the pirate never learn the alphabet?

A:  Because he was stuck at “C”.


Q: Why couldn’t; the pirate play cards?

A: Because he was standing on the deck.


Q: What do pirates like to eat?

A: BaRRRRRRbecue.


Q: What do you get when your cross a pirate and a pumpkin?

A: A “squash”-buckler.





Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with pirates in them (like the Wiggles and Captain Feathersword).

For young children try these titles:

· Dora the Explorer: Pirate Adventure

· Backyardigans—there are a few episodes that have them pretending to be pirates.

· Veggie Tales:  The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything

· Disney’s Peter Pan

Older Children might like these titles:

· Scooby Doo: Pirates Ahoy

· Peter Pan (the live action one)

· The Pirates of the Caribbean series—for older children.



SHIP WATCHING: If you live near the sea go to a pier and watch the ships port.


WALK THE PLANK: Go to your local swimming pool and walk the plank (diving board) and have a family swim.


Photo: C Wright

Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island

Disneyland, California


Pirate Sticker Collage

Pirate Portholes

Make a pirate costume

Create your own Pirate Flag

A Treasure Map!

A Tuna Boat for lunch

“X” Marks the Spot Muffins

Pirate Treasure Cake

We played pin the flag on the Pirate Ship

For my son’s Pirate themed Birthday Party