Elementary Programs Chapter

Wild at Sea: Sail with the Jolly Roger

Books to Share

  • Ballad of the Pirate Queens by Jane Yolen.
  • How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long.
  • Real Pirates by Clare Hibbert.
  • Roger, the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • The Book of Pirates by Michael Hague.
  • Pirate by Richard Platt.
  • Pirate’s Son by Geraldine McCaughrean.
  • Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta by Lisa Wheeler.
  • Thirteenth Floor by Sid Fleischman.


Make “palm trees” from craft paper and crepe paper and hang them on the wall. Cut out barrels, crates, etc. from large sheets of cardboard. Add starfish, netting, and other nautical items, if available. Add pirate ships and characters drawn from Ed Emberley’s Big Purple Drawing Book.

Costumes and Props

Invite the kids to attend the program dressed in pirate outfits. Provide sashes and bandanas for those without a costume. Use face paint to add mustaches and other pirate features. Oriental Trading Company sells inexpensive props, including bandannas, beads, eye patches, treasure chests, and swords.


Serve root beer (grog) and saltine crackers.


Sing “Drunken Sailor.” Music and lyrics for this traditional English song can be found on the Fastdesigner.com Web Music at www.midi-music.com/music/eng/dsailor.htm.

Play “Blow Ye Winds” and “Haul Away” on The Kingston Trio at Large: Here We Go Again by The Kingston Trio to give children a sense of life at sea. Have them pretend they are standing on the deck of a rocking ship.

Audio Recordings

  • Bedtime Stories for Pirates by Captain Bogg and Salty.
  • Captain Grey by Avi.
  • Thirteenth Floor by Sid Fleischman.

Jokes and Riddles

Q. What does it cost a pirate to get his ears pierced?
A. A buck-an-ear (buccaneer).

Q. Why can’t pirates play cards?
A. Because one of them is always sitting on the deck.


Treasure Chest

  • Shoe box, or other rectangular box with lid
  • Brown or black craft paper
  • Gold metallic gift-wrap or yellow construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • Crayons or markers

Cover a shoebox or similar box that has a lid with brown or black craft paper. Make brass fittings and a lock from gold metallic paper or yellow construction paper, or let the children decorate it in a more colorful manner. Give the children Mardi Gras necklaces and other plastic jewelry to put in the box for treasure. These items can be purchased from Kipp Toys and Novelties or Oriental Trading Company.

Pirate Hat

Make a pirate hat from construction paper. Use the pattern in Paper Hat Tricks IV by Patt Newbold and Anne Diebel. This title is out of print but some libraries and regional offices have a copy. Simple directions are available in many other costume books and on the Internet. A simple origami style hat is available at Kids Craft Central at www.kid-craft-central.com/origami-hat.html.

Pirate Flags

  • Pencils
  • White paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • White tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Glue (optional)
  • Markers (optional)

Show the children the variety of pirate flags in World of the Pirate by Val Garwood. Let each design and make a flag to take home. They can draw the design on black paper using white paint or cut symbols out of white paper and glue them to the black background.

Treasure Map

  • Brown craft paper or panels cut from large grocery sacks
  • Pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Scissors

Make treasure maps from brown craft paper or recycled grocery sacks. The children draw a map and decorate it with palm trees and other features. Then they crumple the paper, flatten it several times, and tear the edges to give the map a weathered look.


Read Aloud

How I Became Pirate by Melinda Long has great dialogue and can be dramatized. Have adults or talented teens/school-age children read the roles of the boy and Braid Beard. The audience will be the crew echoing the captain’s words.

Walk the Plank

Lay a 12-inch by 5 to 6-foot board across some sturdy crates or bricks about 6 to12 inches above the ground. Let each child walk across it, jump off, and “swim” to “land,” which is a designated area in the room.

How Many Doubloons?

Fill a clear container with foil-covered chocolate coins. Let the children guess how many are in the jar. The one whose guess is closest wins the booty! As an alternative, give the winner a small prize and then distribute the candy in the jar to all the children.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs to the children during a movie program. Otherwise, display them for home use.

  • Muppet Treasure Island. (100 minutes)
  • Peter Pan. (76 minutes)
  • Treasure Island. (96 minutes)

Web Sites

Fastdesigner.com Web Music
Midi music, lyrics and poetry, traditional English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh tunes, also a classical mix, together with sheet music.

Kids Craft Central
Craft ideas to develop children’s creativity, enhance self-expression, and fuel imagination.

National Geographic’s Web site includes an interactive game that provides information about pirates, including Blackbeard, links to other pirate Web sites, and a brief bibliography of books.

Professional Resources

  • Ed Emberley’s Big Purple Drawing Book by Ed Emberley.
  • Face Painting by Lynsy Pinsent.
  • Paper Hat Tricks IV by Patt Newbold and Anne Diebel.
  • World of the Pirate by Val Garwood.

Paper Hat Tricks


Log onto the Web site or call (800) 830-HATS to purchase the craft books or individual patterns by Newbold and Diebel. Click on the complete list of hat patterns to see what is available and to locate the pirate captain hat described for this program.


Texas Reading Club 2005 Programming Manual / Go Wild...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011