Let's Have a Pirate Party!
by Susan Stephenson
Is it just me, or do food and books seem to go really well together? I love to take a children's book as inspiration, and base activities around it. Somehow or other, especially when kids are involved, many of those activities are about food!
One of my favourite picture books is The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate. I also loved the Captain Pugwash books. There are many books about pirates, though, aimed at children of different ages, and in different genres. Try your local library, or Google "pirate books". Once you've chosen your book, read it together and look for inspiration on activities you can do.
Don't forget, a pirate party can be just for two, or cater to a larger group. Here are some of my ideas that you can adapt to suit your particular pirates.
Encourage your kids to use their imaginations and create their own pirate costumes. It helps if you have a dress up box with lengths of material (pirate sash), cardboard pieces (eye patch, weapons, telescope, hook, hat), assorted shirts and pants. Tucking long pants into long socks helps, and stuffed toys can be pressed into the role of companion parrot.
Have pirates sit in a circle. Each pirate says one word/one sentence aloud as his contribution to a group story.
Think up some fun challenges for pirates to perform. Can they sit at a table and write the word pirate while they make circles with their leg, from the knee down? Can they work out what's inside a bag while blindfolded? (Objects like a peeled grape for an eyeball are popular.)
Hide some treasure, or some of those chocolate coins. Make a map to give clues as to the whereabouts of your treasure.
Make the cake together after looking up cakes online or browsing a cake decorating book. Reading recipes is great practice for functional literacy.
More Pirate Food
Turn little sausages into dead men's fingers; find a treasure chest, line it with foil and have cut up fruit in it; decorate iced cup cakes with skull and crossbones cut from licorice. Or stick to the food in any pirate themed picture book. What does your child think pirates ate? Do some research together online and see how authentic you can be.
Pirates can't be marauding all day. Quiet time might revolve around a book corner, with lots of pirate books to share, or paint and crayons for creating stories and pictures about themselves. A fun group project might be making a big poster-sized pirate and then playing Pin the Patch on the Pirate with blindfolds.
A great day to hold a piratical party would be September 19. Why? It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The one day of the year you can "shiver me timbers" and "avast ye scurvy knaves" to your heart's content. Name yourself as a famous pirate, and set sail for fun and adventure!
Inside Literacy Lava 2, you will also find wonderful articles by Kim Chatel, Terry Doherty, Sandy Fussell, Dee White, Dawn Morris and Valerie Baartz. There's a kid's activity page and some useful online resources. And did I mention it's free? Clicking on Literacy Lava 2 will take you to the download.
Image attribution: Phillip Martin Clipart