Arggh Matey:

Got Pirattitude?

Length of Program

60 minutes

Program Description

“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

- From “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).” Lyrics by Xavier Atencio and music by George Bruns.

Pirates are in vogue with today’s teens, in part due to the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  This program fulfills the developmental need of teens for self-expression while exploring facts about piracy.

In olden times, flags were the most important form of communication on the high seas.  They identified ships as friend or foe. Pirate ships and privateers hung the Jolly Roger on their masts. The term “Jolly Roger” is believed to have originated from French words meaning “pretty red,” referring to the bloody skull and crossbones. In this program, teens will discover facts about pirates and create a personalized flag; their own Jolly Roger. 

Developmental Needs and Assets

This program fulfills teens’ developmental needs for creative expression and self-definition, and their need to learn and achieve.  It also provides opportunities for positive social interactions with peers and adults.  Developmental assets supported by the program include constructive use of time, commitment to learning, and social competencies.  For more information about positive developmental assets for young adults, visit the Search-Institute web site at


Gather materials for the flags, including paint, paper, butcher paper, t-shirts (or have teens bring their own t-shirts to use), magazine pages, glitter, markers, crayons, glue, string, etc., and set them out for the teens to use. Use the book Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson to find historically accurate flags and make a couple as examples. If you do not have the book Flags at Sea, there are a number of vendors online that list the names and pictures of famous flags for you to use as an example. One such site is Refer also to the Awesome Stories web site,, featuring primary documents and other resources related to pirates.

For a longer program or if you need additional ideas, consult the professional resources listed at the end of this section.

Books to Display

  • Buried Treasures of the Atlantic Coast: Legends of Sunken Pirate Treasures, Mysterious Caches, and Jinxed Ships from Maine to Florida by W.C. Jameson.
  • Daring Pirate Women by Anne Wallace Sharp.
  • Eoin Colfer’s Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth by Eoin Colfer.
  • Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly.
  • Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber by L.A. Meyer.

Books to Booktalk

  • The Buccaneers by Iain Lawrence.
  • Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart.
  • Dead Reckoning: A Pirate Voyage with Captain Drake by Laurie Lawlor.
  • The Giant Rat of Sumatra: Or Pirates Galore by Sid Fleishman.

Bulletin Board

Create a sea scene with several pirate ships in the middle and a banner saying “Arggh, Matey.” Use the book Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson to find pictures of famous Jolly Roger flags and put them on the board with the name of the pirate to whom the flag belonged.


Serve dry Cap’n Crunch™ cereal, Buccaneer Brownies (brownies bought from the store) and “grog,” made by mixing pineapple juice and ginger ale.


Dover Publications,, sells inexpensive pirate tattoo booklets. Check with the company for substantial discounts on large orders.

Reader’s Theater

Provide copies of the reader’s theater script “The Pirates’ Code” by Barrie Teague Alguire in the Reader’s Theater chapter of this manual.

Stories to Tell

These participatory stories from Scouting Bear’s Cave allow the group to help tell the story:

Jokes and Riddles

Spice up your program with jokes and riddles about pirates from the Talk Like a Pirate FAQ at

Games and Activities

Make Your Own Jolly Roger

Talk about pirates and their historical impact. Explain that while we generally think of a Jolly Roger as having a skull and crossbones on it, in fact, many flags had other symbols. Then let the teens make a personal Jolly Roger flag. Display the Jolly Rogers around the library when the project is complete.


Make a Jolly Roger that represents your library. Have the teens contribute ideas that would make your library flag unique.

Get Pirattitude Costume Contest

Have a pirate fashion show and invite the teens to dress as their own ideas of what pirates should look like. Have the participants and audience vote on the best costume and award ribbons or prizes.

Modern Piracy

Have teens do a search on the Internet for the word "piracy" to discover how many different ways the word is used today. Start a discussion about how the pirates of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries compare with those of today.

Talk Like a Pirate Crossword Puzzle and Word Match Game

Copy and distribute the “Talk Like a Pirate” crossword puzzle provided, or develop a crossword puzzle using pirate slang from The Pirate’s Realm web site at or another website. A website for creating puzzles is the Crossword Puzzle Game at Or, create a word-match game using the pirate words and definitions below.

Pirate Slang

  • Abaft - Toward the back end or stern of the ship
  • Ahoy! - Hello!
  • Arrrgh! - A basic pirate utterance that sometimes means, “Yes, I agree.”
  • Avast! - Stop and pay attention!
  • Aye! - Yes, I agree!
  • Aye aye! - I'll get right to it!
  • Bilge rat - An insult, or a rat that lives in the lowest place in the ship
  • Black jack - Large leather drinking cup coated with tar
  • Cackle fruit - Chicken eggs
  • Duffle - Everything a sailor owns and the nickname for the bag that holds the possessions
  • Grog - Mix of water and rum
  • Hogshead - Large barrel or casket
  • Holystone - Bars of sandstone used to scrub the decks
  • Hornpipe - A musical instrument often found on pirate ships
  • Hornswaggle - To cheat or defraud
  • Jacob's Ladder - The rope ladder used to climb aboard the ship
  • Landlubber - Someone who does not go to sea, or an unskilled pirate
  • Mizzen - The middle of the ship
  • Monkey - A small cannon
  • Poop deck - The deck that is furthest and highest back
  • Powder monkey - Gunner’s assistant
  • Shiver me timbers - An expression of surprise

Web-Based Activities

Pete’s Adventures

This website for pirate books by Kim and Doug Kennedy includes online mazes, games, downloadable treasure map, and more.

Online Pirate Quiz

Let the teens test their knowledge of pirates with this quize on the Teen Space of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the teens. Otherwise, display them for home use.

  • Hook. (144 minutes)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. (143 minutes)
  • Treasure Island. (87 minutes)

Web Sites

National Geographic Pirates!

Set sail with pirates, read the Captain’s log, and check out the treasure maps.

Professional Resources

Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson

Awesome Stories

Although some areas of this site require registration, it’s easy and free to register your library. The story behind the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, includes many maps and primary documents to supplement your program.

Crossword Puzzle Game

This website allows you to create a crossword puzzle that can be printed out.

Dead Men Tell No Tales

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

Dover Publications

This publisher sells inexpensive activity books.

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.

The New England Pirate Museum

This site offers age-appropriate lesson plans and activities.

Pirates and Privateers

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

The Pirate’s Realm

This site contains links to other sites that have free games, costume ideas, and historical information on pirates.

Pirates of the Spanish Main

This site provides historical information on some of the famous pirates, including literature guides and games.

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.

Talk Like a Pirate

Features basic and advanced pirate slang, jokes, and more.


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