Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Camp: Pirate Play!

Playing Pirates is always a BIG hit - with boys and girls! Gather some props to make a pretend pirate ship - a large box to decorate would be great, but just arranging some chairs together and tying on some black streamers or fabric to connect them will give your children a place to gather! Add a paper-plate ship's wheel  and they will be set to go!

Get in a bit of geography by having a globe on hand and spinning it to choose where you are setting sail for. Have the children find "home" on the globe as well! If there's no globe available, a large map will do :)

Every pirate needs a spyglass, so each child should start out with a paper towel tube and decorate accordingly - use markers or stickers to make them really cool! There are lots of clip-art pieces on Google images to try out - pick a few and assemble!

If you have any eyepatches lying around, or other pirate regalia, put them out in a dress-up bin - try some all-purpose vests turned inside out and some old shirts cut with ragged edges to make pirate gear! A sash cut from red and white striped fabric or an old scarf pulls the whole look together!

For more crafts, supply a key with simple mapping symbols and paper and markers for the children to make some maps - don't forget a big X to mark the spot where the treasure is!  If you're looking for more fine motor practice, you can find free pirate coloring sheets at several sites on the internet, as well!

Before all the fun begins, come up with a "treasure" to be split between the pirates - beaded necklaces from the party store and "gold" coins work well - and hide it all in a special container somewhere. Then, devise some clues that will guide the group from place to place, each time to find the next clue until the end of the hunt! Here are some to get you started:

Treasure Hunt!
Cut these clues apart and hide them as directed – or make up your own!

Under the fence where the squirrels run                        (have this ready to start the action!)
Look for clue #1!

Find a toy that’s the color blue – that’s                                   (hide this under a fence!)
Where you’ll find clue #2

Look around the base of the big tree                                       (hide this under or near a blue toy!)
If you’re looking for clue #3

Beside a window or a door,                                                  (hide at the base of a tree!)
You will find Clue #4

Look under a rock or two                                                     (hide beside a window or door)
To find the fifth and final clue!

This clue will send you around the lot                                         (hide under a rock)
Until you find where X marks the spot!

 (attach a rolled up REAL treasure map to the last clue -  ready to point out where you’ve hidden your “treasure"!)

If your treasure includes some gold coins, get in a little fun "arrrr"ithmetic - counting and adding up sums!

For snacks, try some "treasure" goldfish crackers in silver cupcake papers or some pretzel logs and fruit roll-ups cut up to form into a pirate ship - fun!

Books to read with your little pirates:
"Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC" by June Sobel
"How I Became A Pirate" by Melinda Long
"The Night Pirates" by Peter Harris
"Tough Boris" by Mem Fox
"Grandma and the Pirates" by Phoebe Gilman
"What's Inside a Pirate Ship"

Have a great time!


  1. I really love coming at a theme from lots of different angles - something fun for everyone and lots of learning mixed in too. Thanks for all these ideas.

  2. WOW! Love the pirat theme, Rory! And I love how it's linked to a book--so smart. I'm totally going to use this with my kids. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for linking up with the Smart Summer Challenge!