Pirate Party

Kick off the Texas Reading Club with a party about pirates. If you want a longer program or need additional ideas, check out the activities in the elementary and young adult chapters of this manual.

Books to Share

  • Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker.
  • The Horrendous Hullabaloo by Margaret Mahy.
  • How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long.
  • Pirate Pete’s Great Adventure by Kim Kennedy.
  • This Little Pirate by Sturges Philemon.

Books to Show and Booktalk

  • Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae.
  • I Spy Treasure Hunt by Jean Marzollo.
  • Pirate Pete Sets Sail by Jean-Pierre Jaggi.
  • The Pirates Eye by Robert Priest.
  • Pirates: Robbers of the High Seas by Gail Gibbons.
  • Sloop John B:  A Pirate’s Tale by Al Jardine.
  • Treasure of Cozy Cove by Tony Ross.

Bulletin Board

Treasures Under the Sea

Create an ocean bottom using light brown paper to represent sand and blue paper to represent water. On the sand, place a picture of a treasure chest that is open, revealing pearls, diamonds, gold coins, and many other treasures. You can use photographs of treasure chests, use pictures, or draw your own. Some patterns or reproducible pictures of treasure chests are located at KidPrintables, www.kidprintables.com/coloring/fantasy/treasurechest.shtml and First School, www.first-school.ws/t/coloring-pages/pirate/treasure-chest.htm. Dover Publications, www.doverpublications.com, also sells a Fun With Pirates Stencils book that can be used to trace a pirate’s chest. Let the children decorate the rest of the bulletin board with cutouts of sea creatures they have decorated. You can find coloring pages on the Internet for many different kinds of ocean animals at First-School, www.first-school.ws/theme/animals/cp_ocean.htm and at DLTK’s Crafts for Kids, www.dltk-kids.com/animals/moceanposter.html. Patterns are also available for the “Blue Fish, Blue Fish” flannel board in the 2004 Texas Reading Club Manual, www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2004/manual/internal_chapters/toddler_sea.htm.


Gold Coins

Cut out or die-cut large yellow circles. Punch a hole at the top and thread through yarn. Write children’s name on them. The children can also decorate their gold coins.


Treasure Chest

Use a large cardboard box to create a treasure chest. Cover the box with brown or gold kraft or wrapping paper. Decorate the chest with plastic beads, plastic toy coins, carnival jewelry, and other pirate objects. Display fiction and non-fiction books about pirates in and around the chest.


Make large Jolly Roger flags to hang around your library. You can make your library look like a ship by using large pieces of white paper or cloth to make sails that hang from the ceiling. Display toy boats around your library. A pattern for making boats is provided here. Images of Jolly Roger flags can be found at the Brethren of the Coast Pirate Flag web site at www.geocities.com/captcutlass/Flag.html or at the Blackbeard Lives web site at www.blackbeardlives.com/day1/jolly.shtml.


Serve vanilla sandwich or wafer cookies and declare them to be “Sea Biscuits.” You can also serve tropical punch or lemonade and call it “grog,” Hershey Nuggets or other gold and silver wrapped candy, and chocolate gold coins. For take-home snacks check out party stores for skull shaped lollipops and candy necklaces. Keep in mind that some children have allergies, so retain the packaging for easy reference and have alternatives that do not include chocolate or nuts.


Use the fingerplays, Catching a Fish and When I Was One, both located in Let’s Do Fingerplays by Marion Grayson. You might also want to use the fingerplay, Fierce Pirate at www.thebestkidsbooksite.com/funfingerplay.cfm?fingerplayid=285 or Pirates, Pirates adapted by Leila Raven Parrish in the 2003 Texas Reading Club Manual, www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2003/manual/preschool/shivermetimbers.html.


Sing the song “Deep Blue Sea” in Ready-To-Go Storytimes: Fingerplays, Scripts, Patterns, Music, and More by Gail Benton.

1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Pirates

(Traditional. Adapted by Miranda Bauer.)

1 little, 2 little, 3 little pirates

4 little, 5 little, 6 little pirates

7 little, 8 little, 9 little pirates

10 little pirates on board.

Audio Recordings

  • “Castaways”and“A Pirate Says Arr” on The Backyardigans by The Backyardigans.
  • “A Pirate Story” and “Where Go the Boats?” on A Child’s Garden of Songs by Ted Jacobs.
  • “Rover Bob, the Pirate Dog,” “The Sailor’s Malady,” or any other songs on J. Roger’s School for Pirates by John Gallagher.
  • “Great Big Boat” and “All Aboard” on Putumayo Kids Presents: Caribbean Playground by Various Artists.


Spy Glasses


  • Paper towel tubes
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors


Before the program begins, cut the plastic wrap into small squares that are large enough to fit around the bottom of the paper towel tube. Attach a square of plastic wrap around one end of a paper towel tube with rubber band. Let the participants decorate the tube using the construction paper and markers.

Jolly Roger Flags


  • Black, white, and red construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencils


Give each child a piece of black construction paper. Provide white and red paper for them to decorate their own design for their flag. Show the Jolly Roger flags that you created for decorations as examples. Display books with examples of these types of flags and let the children look at examples on the Brethren of the Coast Pirate Flag web site at www.geocities.com/captcutlass/Flag.html or at the Blackbeard Lives web site at www.blackbeardlives.com/day1/jolly.shtml.

Games and Activities

Treasure Hunt

Begin by placing a series of clues around the library. The first clue should lead to the next clue and so on. For example, a clue might be “What is the capital of Puerto Rico?”  You can set up the hunt to either have the kids look in specific books or have them cite where they found the information. When the children find each answer, give them another clue. For the older children, the questions may be more difficult, use the Internet, or use their computer skills. For example, a question for older children might be “Who wrote the book Pirate Pete Sets Sail?” Let the children use all the sections of the library. The last clue should lead to a treasure, such as refreshments in the program room or a treasure chest with small prizes.

Scavenger Hunt

Give the participants a list of items they must find in the library. The first child or group of children, to return with all the items wins a small prize. Be sure that the items on your list are readily available in sufficient supply or that they require the children to interact with staff. For example, one item might require that the children ask the circulation staff for a library card application.

Musical Islands

Cut several pieces of construction paper to resemble the shape of islands. Place these on the floor in a circular pattern. There should be one island less than the number of participants. Play some of the pirate music listed in the Audio Recordings section of this program while the children walk around the islands. Once the music stops every child must step on an island. Only one child may be on an island at a time. The child who is not on an island is “out.” Take one island away and repeat until there is only one child left.

Guest Speakers

Invite a bird handler, pet storeowner, or someone else who works with parrots and small monkeys to bring pets and talk about their care and habits. Be sure that the handler stresses that monkeys and parrots require a lot of care and are not suitable pets for every family. (Additionally, in some jurisdictions, monkeys are classified as exotic animals and keeping them is regulated.)

Contact your local veterinarian’s office or city zoo to locate a presenter who can talk about different kinds of birds and how to take care of them properly.

Ask your local Boy Scout troop or the owner of a nautical supply shop to demonstrate different kinds of nautical knots.

Contact a costume shop or theatrical group and invite someone to come and discuss pirate attire.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the children. Otherwise, display them for home use. Times are indicated for the entire film.

  • “The Pirate Adventure” on Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy: The Mabbit Adventure. (72 minutes)
  • Between the Lions: To the Ship! To the Ship! (30 minutes)
  • Dora the Explorer Pirate Adventure. (49 minutes)
  • “Pirates” on Kipper: Imagine That. (60 minutes)
  • Let’s Pretend with Barney. (60 minutes)
  • Tubb’s Pirate Treasure. (50 minutes)

Web Sites

Academic Kids Encyclopedia: Pirates


Set up like an encyclopedia, this site allows users to gain an understanding of pirates. It includes information on books with pirates, famous pirates, and has links to more information on anything a student may be curious about.

Blackbeard Lives


This site gives historical information as well as images of pirates and pirate flags. You can also follow Blackbeard as he goes up the coast.

Pirate Coloring Pages for Preschool and Kindergarten


This site contains many different images kids will enjoy coloring including pirate images.



This web site, provided by National Geographic Kids, allows explorers to go on a pirate adventure, while also providing facts and history on pirates. The site includes links to additional web sites, recommended reading, and a page devoted to Blackbeard.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


The site provides information on the book, Treasure Island, and provides information on islands across the globe, including the Caribbean and Hawaii.

Professional Resources

  • Let’s Do Fingerplays by Marion Grayson.
  • Fun With Pirates Stencils by Paul E. Kennedy.
  • Ready-To-Go Storytimes: Fingerplays, Scripts, Patterns, Music, and More by Gail Benton.



This site provides many storytime, craft, and other ideas including books, songs, and rhymes for pirate programs.

Blackbeard Lives


Join Blackbeard on his voyage down the Carolina coast. The site includes information about pirate flags and video of the Queen Anne's Revenge Wreck site.

Brethren of the Coast Pirate Flag


Everything you would ever want to know about Jolly Roger and other famous pirate flags is provided on this fan site, including printable pictures of famous flags. Be forewarned that loud sailor music plays when you open the site.

Child Fun


This site has a wide assortment of themed activities, food ideas, costume, and decorating tips including many about pirates.

Color Your World…Read: 2004 Texas Reading Club Manual

www.tsl.texas.gov /ld/projects/trc/2004/manual/index.html

This manual includes several programs with pirate and ocean themes.

DLTK’s Crafts for Kids


The site includes craft ideas, printable pages, and patterns for children of various ages.

Dead Men Tell No Tales


Links to lists of pirate books, music, games, toys, decorations, crafts, costumes, accessories, artwork and more.

First School


This site provides educational early childhood activities, printable crafts, and worksheets for young children.

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates : Fiction, Fact & Fancy Concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main


The complete text of this book of pirate stories and pictures by nineteenth century artist-author Howard Pyle is online at the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. Published in 1921, it is in the public domain.



This site provides coloring pages with many different themes, including pirate treasure chests.

Mission Possible: Spy a Book!: 2003 Texas Reading Club Manual

www.tsl.texas.gov /ld/projects/trc/2003/index.html

This manual includes a treasure hunt program with instructions for pirate activities.

Pirates and Privateers


A guide to web sites with facts and fiction about pirates, buccaneers, and privateers.

Shanties and Sea Songs


Lyrics to traditional maritime songs, particularly sea shanties.

Story Lovers SOS: Searching Out Stories


Features compilation of more than fifty stories to tell about pirates.


Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

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

Page last modified: June 14, 2011