Pirate School

Curriculum resources for teachers and their wee pirates

  • Pirate curriculum (all grade levels) from Cap’n Slappy (who happens to be a real-life edumacator) and Ol’ Chumbucket
  • Pirate Math is a new book by retired geometry teacher Michael Serra that uses pirate-themed games and puzzles to teach mathematical concepts and problem solving. Students get to use their problem solving skills to find polyominoes in rectangular, polar, and even spherical coordinate systems to locate an actual sunken ship.
  • Special Education classes, especially classes for kids who cannot speak, can use the free version of Fat Cat Pirate Chat to talk like a pirate and speak silly piratical phrases. The free version comes with 60 phrases. (More phrases are available for in-app purchase, but the free version is enough for lots of classroom fun.) Available for iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android. Christine G. from Wilmington, Delaware wrote to Team Pirate:

    “I work with students who have severe disabilities. I find and program ways for them to talk w/ technology … I found a picture symbol pirate voice output app last night and 10 “voiceless” kids talked like Pirates all day!!! I can die happy now.”

    More information at www.piratechat.us or www.fatcatchat.net.

  • LessonPix.com, a tarrrrific site that lets teachers create and share lesson plans and classroom materials, sent out a call to socially socially-active Speech and Language Pathologists and Special Ed teachers and got the best of them to write blog posts about how to use International Talk Like A Pirate Day to motivate their kiddos. Free materials for the teachers or SLPs, with great ideas and thoughtful commentary. Great resource!
  • A bunch of New Zealand teachers with pirattitude have launched a PirateWiki where teachers can share their pirate-themed lesson plans, activities, links and more! See it – and sign up to participate – at http://talklikeapirate.wikispaces.com/
  • See also: Pirate books for kids


If you’re a teacher who’s put together a pirate lesson plan, we’d love to see it and share it with the world. Send it to webwench@talklikeapirate.com

Lesson plans from actual teachers in actual schools

From Kimberly Roos, St. Michael’s High School, Santa Fe, New Mexico (10th grade world history)

I would be so happy to share the lesson I planned for the big day. The books I used were the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Book “Pirate” by Richard Platt and a book called “100 Things You Should Know About Pirates” by Andrew Langley by Barnes and Noble.

Three flags from the Eyewitness book were xeroxed so I had ten copies of each. Students drew a flag at random upon entering the class and thus they were put in groups: the “scurvy dogs,” the “bilge rats”, and the “scallawags”. I then read your disclaimer about pirates being really, really bad people, but how the holiday is just for fun.

On a table I placed three party-favor pirate chests from the local Party City store. Each contained plastic gold coins and ten questions cut into strips on either ancient pirates, the pirate flag or famous pirates. To save time, I marked the books with sticky notes to help them find answers, but they still had to read to get the information. Each group received an instruction page and puzzle-pirate vocabulary sheets. The instructions read:

Avast me hearties!!! Ahoy! I’ve a task for ye. Inside the treasure chests are ten questions for ye sprogs. Go on the account and use the books or copies to answer the questions smartly, lads and lasses. Once ye’ve become a messdeck lawyer filled with knowledge, ye’ll need to be use’n the “piratey expressions” to explain or act out yer information to the rest of the lubbers in class. Be creative mateys! Don’t hornswaggle! Be talking like pirates as best ye can, arrgh! There be a treasure of booty to the teams that’s the best. Shiver me timbers!!!!

Each group found their answers and practiced their piratey expressions. Some took construction paper and made parrots, hats, beards, cannons and hooked hands! Groups then had five minutes to share their information. It was pretty easy to pick winners in each class, and if there was a fantastic effort by one student but they weren’t in the winning team, they got a bonus prize. All members of the winning teams received one ring pop (suckers that are like big gemstone rings), jolly ranchers (instead of jolly rogers) and more gold coins. Pirate booty is expensive with six classes, but the day was well, well worth it.

I also had two pirate flags, a pirate bandana and a student bought me a hat as a surprise. I also got a banner of flags from the party store – check the little kids birthday aisle.

Oh yes, as our school is in NEW Mexico but over 50% Hispanic, some students wanted to know if there were ever Mexican pirates. I guessed that there were, hitting the Spanish Main…

Language Arts lesson plan for 4th-6th graders:

  • I will give the students laminated copies of pirate vocabulary words and their definitions
  • We will review the words and definitions together (so they have both auditory and visual)
  • Students need to choose one of their favorite nursery rhymes (they can look some up if they can’t seem to recall any at the moment)
  • Students will give their nursery rhyme Pirattitude by adding in and replacing some of the nursery rhyme words with pirate terms (they need to consider which part of speech the word is and use it appropriately)
  • Students need to try to give their rhyme as much Pirattitude as possible
  • Finally, the presentation of the Poem with Pirattitude is the most important part! They need to read it with as much Pirate gusto as they can muster up! Be loud and proud to be a pirate!


Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet Eating her curds and whey Along came a spider Who sat down beside her And frightened Miss Muffet away

With Pirattitude:

A proud beauty, Little Miss Muffet Embarked with her matey on her tuffet Making lubbers eat her foul curds and whey. Arrr! Avast! Along came a behemoth bilge rat Who smartly sat at her starboard stern And scared Miss Muffet all the way to the depths of Davey Jones’ Locker. Arrr!

I am still working on a different plan for my 2nd and 3rd graders, so I will send that in soon.

I printed out and laminated the pirate buttons and am thinking about punching holes in them and tying on elastic cord to turn them into eyepatches

I just remembered that I had planned some science lessons for my 2nd-6th graders that also kind of go along with pirates. (I teach gifted, so that is why I have such a crazy mix of students)

I had my 4th-6th graders build ships completely from recycled materials (one of the challenges they are facing is: what recycled materials can we use to stick things together?) The students had a week to collect materials, design, and build their ships at home. Many of the students have mentioned how they are making crow’s nests, life boats, cannons, and various other super cool piratey things. They will bring their creations in next week and we will all be responsible for grading each others’ ships. They will be rated on 1. Materials (did they use all recycled materials? Did they have to resort to using glue and tape?) 2. Appearance (how does it look? How much time does it look like they spent on it?) 3. Creativity (Did they use some pretty unique materials? Did they add on creative details to make their ship one of a kind?) and 4. Stability (We will see whose can hold the most weight/the most passengers) When they come in next week, I have an inflatable kiddie pool that we will use to test the stability of the ships. I think I will use dominoes for the weights because there happen to be a whole jar of them in my room and they won’t roll around and fall off the ships. (This is my first year teaching-so I’m still discovering the neat things that were left behind in my room). As a follow-up activity, I will have them write down reflections about this whole experience…1) What did you learn from this experience? 2) What could you do to improve your ship? They have been extremely excited about this and it works on many higher level thinking skills. I think that figuring out how to use someone else’s trash to your advantage is just great. They need to think outside of the box, experiment, and learn from their experiences.

For my 2nd and 3rd graders I put together some activities that are a great way to experiment with what it would be like to have only one eye. It also exposes them to the scientific explanations for some of the ways that our eyes work.

Introduction Discussion: What do you think your life would be like if you lost an eye? What might be difficult?

Activity 1: Cut small thin strips of paper. Draw a smiley face on right side and a frowny face on the left side. Students close one eye and stare at the smiley face. Ask them if they can still see the frowny face? (They should be able to, in their peripheral vision). Then instruct them to slowly move the paper closer and farther away. Is there ever a time when you can’t see the frowny face? (This should be exciting for them when it happens) Ask them to think about why that might happen.

How I like to explain it: We have a blindspot. Our eyes are complicated things. When we are seeing things, the information comes in to the back of our eye, which is called the retina. There are millions and millions of tiny cells on the retina that take in what we’re seeing, then they send a message to our brains. How do you think a message can get from your eye all the way to your brain? It needs a pathway—just like we need roads to drive somewhere—the eyes have pathways to get to the brain. These are called nerves. There are tiny nerves coming out from every tiny little cell. The tiny nerves all come together to one big nerve that goes to the brain. When they call come together, it kind of looks like a pony tail, with all the little hairs coming together and forming a big chunk of hair. The spot on the retina where the tiny nerves all come together, there are no little cells to take in what we’re seeing. So we have a blindspot there. If information comes into our eye and goes to that part, then we can’t see it!

Activity 2: One students wears an eyepatch or closes one eye. Their partner puts their arm out straight, holding a penny in their fingers. There is a cup on the table to hold the penny. The student holding the penny slowly moves his/her hand around and above the cup. The student with the eyepatch has to tell him/her when to drop the penny so that it will fall into the cup. Is it harder than it looks?

Activity 3: One student is blindfolded with a small object in his/her hand. Their partner is wearing a patch or closing one eye. There is a target on the floor on the other side of the room. The student with the patch has to direct the student with the blindfold to drop the object onto the target. Is this harder than it looks?

Explanation: Why is it so hard to judge things with only one eye? We need 2 eyes to have depth perception. We are created with 2 eyes, so that our eyes can work as a team to see everything. Both eyes send information to the brain, and our brain compares the information to understand everything that is going on. With only one eye, we don’t have depth perception—it is very hard for us judge how close up and far away things are.

Follow-up activity: Do you think pirates with only one eye were really that dangerous after all? (Prompt with-How do you think they’d be at fighting? How do you think they’d be at aiming cannons? How do you think they’d be at sailing close to land?)

— Megan Sheeley

Pirate Math

Shiver me timbers – it’s almost time for ITLAPD 2006, and I can’t wait! I coach a middle school math team as part of a national program called MATHCOUNTS, and this year we are practicing on Tuesdays. How exciting that ITLAPD is on Tuesday this year! At our September 19th practice, the “mathletes” will go on a treasure hunt. I will divide them into two teams and give them maps of the school marked with 10 X’s. They will find each X and solve the math problem at that location. Whichever team gets back first with the most correct answers will win the booty, a chest full of chocolate coins. Arrr! — Betty Jean Jordan, a.k.a. “Dirty Bess Flint”


1) Ol’ Chumbucket can blow a man down in 20 seconds. Arrr! How many men can he blow down in 15 minutes?

2) Polly wants a cracker. Awk! A box of crackers sitting next to her perch contains 5 Ritz crackers, 4 saltines, and 7 Wheat Thins. If she sticks her beak into the box and randomly pulls out a cracker, what is the probability that she does NOT get a saltine? Express yer answer as a common fraction.

3) The pirates of The Black Pearl are a motley crew. Arrr! Twenty-seven of them have earrings, and 25 of them have peg legs. If the crew consists of 37 pirates, how many have both earrings and peg legs?

4) Dirty Bess Flint buried her treasure at 24° 41′ 37″ N and 78° 04′ 16″ W. (That’s degrees, minutes, and seconds of latitude and longitude, ye scurvy dogs!) If there are 60 seconds in 1 minute and 60 minutes in one degree, convert the treasure’s latitude and longitude into decimal degrees (i.e., showing no minutes or seconds). Round yer answer to the nearest hundredth. Arrr!

5) Blackbeard has to swab the poop deck after a sword fight. Arrr! The poop deck is 48 feet wide and 100 feet long. If Blackbeard can swab 125 square feet per minute, how many minutes will it take him to swab the entire poop deck? Round yer answer to the nearest minute.

6) On his last raid, Captain Jack Sparrow stole 1,000 pieces of eight, 500 doubloons, and 600 gold coins. If each type of coin is worth the dollar value shown below, what is the average value in dollars of Captain Jack Sparrow’s booty? Arrr!

1 piece of eight = $0.75 1 doubloon = $1.20 1 gold coin = $3

7) The Horrid Shark pirate ship is sailing from the Cayman Islands to St. John’s. Arrr! If she can sail 20 miles per hour, and St. John’s is 1350 miles from the Cayman Islands, in how many days will The Horrid Shark arrive in St. John’s? Round yer answer to the nearest whole day.

8) Cap’n Slappy has to punish one of his bilge rat crewmembers. Arrr! He plans to keelhaul him, which is dragging him along the underside of the boat lengthwise. However, Cap’n Slappy relents and decides to only drag him widthwise. If the width of the ship’s hull can be approximated by a semicircle with radius 40 feet, what is the distance that Cap’n Slappy drags the bilge rat? Round yer answer to the nearest foot.

9) X marks the spot! Solve for x:

6x – 5y = 8 2x + 9y = 24

10) Mad Dirk the pirate is hanging nautical flags on the mizzenmast. Arrr! He doesn’t care about what signals he is sending to other ships (he is mad, after all), and so he randomly selects four of the flags shown below. In how many ways can Mad Dirk choose four flags?

(NOTE: the list of international nautical flags wouldn’t copy into this e-mail, but there are 26 of them, one for each letter.)

Answers (Arrr!):

1) 45 men 2) 3/4 3) 15 pirates 4) 24.69° N, 78.07° W 5) 38 minutes 6) $1.50 7) 3 days 8) 126 feet 9) x = 3 10) 14,950

Short lesson plan for elementary social studies:

I tie Pirate Day into my Social Studies. We study maps, legends, and landmarks. Then I have my students draw a picture of the playground with landmarks like the slide, the water fountain, etc.

I hide a cardboard treasure chest for each student and personalize each of their maps with an X that marks the spot.

After a week of reading great pirate literature for kids, I suggest we go on a treasure hunt. I give each student his/her map. When he/she finds the X they find their own personal treasure chest which is filled with fun fake jewels and goodies.

Then each student gets to decorate the chest with fake jewels, glitter, etc.

– Paula Shaw, Walnut Grove, Calif.

TLAPD, Home-school style

Well, first I get me swabs out of their bunks & holler for all hands on deck. They scrub the planks before they can have their grub. Or, if the Cap’n is in a particularly benevolent mood we fill our bellies with the spoils of the last Albertson’s pillage, then it’s on to the finer lessons of life.

We talk of the ship’s need for smooth sailing & how best to handle the rough waters.

We study treasure maps, honor our dead matey’s by telling their tales, and set off for new adventures in mixing vinegar ‘n soda & blowin’ things up.

When the seas are calm, we search for treasure in the Garden of Weedin’ for a clue at the rest of the day’s activities.

We stick to the code whenever practical, but often find ourselves playin’ at the pirate games afforded by the webwench.

All the kiddies in these waters are a’might jealous when they come home from the King’s school & find we’ve been fritterin’ and fraternizin’ with the likes of International Talk Like a Pirate Day folks. But we just give ’em the eye & laugh ’em to scorn!

– Cap’n Kelli Mollinari & Crew of the Red Crab

Pirate Lessons for Kindergardeners

I live near the Orlando area. I grew up Tampa, FL which is rich in pirates history. I spent many summer in the FL Keys. Pirates be in me blood.

I teach them pirate words that they are to use for the day.

I teach them about the history of pirates in FL.

Read: “How I Became a Pirate”, “Pirates Don’t Change Diapers”, “Pirate Mom”, & “Pirate Pete”.

I have collect pirate toys for a pirate center. I also have party decorations for the room. I put up “Pin the Flag on the pirate ship+ (from Party City) on the marker board for the pirate center.

Make pirate hats: The hat is like a 3 corner hat, but only 2 side. Staple the sides to fit. The trace, cut, & paste on a skull & cross bones.

Make hooks: Trace hooks on card stock. Use strips of foil to wrap around the hooks. Cut a slit in the bottom of a Styrofoam cup. Slip the hook inside. Child puts their hand inside the cup holding the bottom of the hook.

Make maps. Use a brown paper bag from the store. Rip it to have an uneven edge. They draw their own map.

Treasure Hunt:I have a map I’ve drawn of the campus. They follow it to find buried treasure of beads.

Treasure Box: a shoe box wrapped in a brown paper bag from the store. I drew brown lines to look like wood.

Snack: Grog – root beer. Hard tack – oyster crackers. Use to have Pirate of the Caribbean snacks. They aren’t being made any more or at least not for now.

With snack, we watch Peter Pan.

— L.C. Poulos