Homeschool Share: an online homeschool curriculum cooperative hosting over 500 unit studies, lapbooks, printables, and other resources.

Pirates in the Park Author

Pirates in the Park

Author:  Thom Roberts
Illustrator:  Harrold Berson
Synopsis:  When boys at a pond won't let her play along with their toy pirate ship, Jenny makes a ship out of a walnut shells and sails off into an imaginary adventure in a great ship of her own.

A literature-based unit study by Wende


Social Studies

Geography --  The Seven Seas:   The boy at the park boasted that his ship could out sail any on the seven seas. Looking at a world map, have your child locate the seven seas. On an outline map of the world, have child label all the major bodies of water. The Seven Seas are considered to be the North and South Atlantic, the North and South Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic, and the Antarctic oceans.

Geography -- Land and Water Forms:

Pond – A body of still water, smaller than a lake. Sometimes ponds are naturally created by water running off to a low spot, and sometimes they are man made.
Island – A piece of land entirely surrounded by water.
Cove – A bay-like recess into a shoreline.
River – A large, natural stream of water, usually fed by smaller creeks along it’s course, and discharging into a larger body of water such as a lake or ocean.
Horizon – The line you see looking out as far as you can, where the sky meets the earth or sea.
Social Studies -- Pirates:   The study of pirates is an often interesting (and over-glamorized) subject for children. There are many good books about pirates and their history available. An especially colorful and informative book is The World of the Pirate by Val Garwood. The basics involving the Pirates in the Park are covered below.
Pirate Flags – The boy’s toy pirate ship had a Jolly Roger flag, the most famous of pirate flags. Some pirates designed their own flags, the scarier and more threatening the better, and others just used the standard skull and cross bones. Have your child design a pirate flag.

Pirate Weapons – The pirates in the story had swords and cannons for weapons. Generally, pirates possessed whatever weapons they had stolen from victim ships, and usually had very well stocked arsenals. They had short weapons, such as a flintlock pistol, cutlass, and dagger, for fighting on board in close quarters. For attacking at a distance they used cannons, catapults, muskets, grenades, and stinkpots.  Maybe your child would like to make a cutlass from cardboard and aluminum foil, or a catapult from K-Nex and rubber bands.

Pirate Clothes – Much of the clothes pirates wore were obtained during attacks. The clothing worn was chosen for it’s comfort and durability, and ease of moving around and fighting. Kerchiefs were worn around a pirate’s head to keep out dirt and dust, and to catch sweat. Sashes, usually of red, were pirate trademarks. And every once in a while, a pirate did wear an eye patch to cover the damage done in some altercation. Let your child have some fun dressing up in pirate garb.  Pirate Gear Prepared Page

Pirate Ships – Pirates used whatever ships they could steal, as long as they were fast. They especially preferred small fast ships that were easy to steer, so they could sneak up on their victims and get away fast. There are many ship terms used throughout the story. Have your children look at the pictures of the S.S. Walnut and the Skull.  Can he locate some of the items mentioned? A picture of a pirate ship with parts labeled can be found by clicking here

Gang Plank – A temporary bridge for passengers between a ship and land.
Helm – The steering apparatus of a ship.
Mainsail – The principal sail on a mainmast.
Mainmast – The second mast from the front of the ship (the bow).
Gunwale – The upper edge of the side of a ship.
Masts – A pole set upright in a ship to support the sails
Sails – A piece of material attached by ropes to a mast in a ship that catches the wind to help the ship propel forward.
Anchor – A heavy, hooked implement, usually of iron or steel that is attached to a cable and dropped from a ship to hold it in place.

Pirate Sayings – “Shiver me timbers, mates”, the boy with the pirate ship exclaims. The boy is saying “Goodness me!” There are quite a few pirate sayings your child may or may not be familiar with. “Ahoy there” means “Hey!” “Lands Ahoy” means that there is land within sight. “Tell it to the parrot” means to tell everyone. If there is an interest, try to obtain a film with a pirate theme such as an animated version of Treasure Island, or the movie Captain Kidd starring Charles Laughton to hear more pirate sayings.

Bible/Character -- Boasting:   The boy at the park was very boastful about the speed and quality of his ship. What happened in the end of the story? A passing log crushed his ship. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth.” The Lord does not want us to be proud or boastful. If we do good and right things, then people will notice, and even if they don’t, Jesus will.  Instead of looking like a great ship, it looked like a pile of rubble that nobody was much interested in playing with. Share a time when maybe your boastfulness backfired on you, or ask your child if something like that ever happened to him/her.


Language Arts

Language Arts -- Reality and Fantasy:  While this story had many events that could have really happened, it also had many elements of fantasy. Discuss with your child, which parts were real and which parts were fantasy.  Many of the children in the story were using their imagination, pretending to be pirates, cowboys, and ship captains. Have your child use his imagination to narrate or write a story that includes elements of reality and fantasy, maybe with himself as a pirate!
Language Arts --  Abbreviations:  An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Jenny called her ship the S.S. Walnut. The abbreviation S.S. is short for “steamship”. Some other common abbreviations your child may be familiar with are Mr., Mrs., Dr., as well as state abbreviations and address abbreviations. Point out the abbreviation S.S. in the story, and encourage child to write out some himself.
Language Arts -- Italics:  Your child may notice that Skull and Walnut are printed in a slightly slanted style called italics. Italics are used to emphasize a certain word, indicate titles of magazines, newspapers, books, plays, films, a foreign word, and in this case, the names of ships. If you have “rowed” FIAR title The Glorious Flight, your child may also remember that names of planes are italicized as well. Have child find all the italicized words in the story.


Art and Music

Art -- Shapes and Details:  Look with your child through all the pictures of the ships. Take notice of the details in the many shapes and lines, the rectangular flags, the triangular sails, the circular helm and portholes, and the many ropes. Examine the ornate carvings on the bows of the ships. Have your child try his hand at drawing a ship, using some of the details found in the pictures. If he needs a little help, click here for some “How-to-Draw” instructions for a pirate ship (and a treasure chest).  

Sea Chanties:  As you do this unit, be sure to sing some sea chanties (also spelled shanties)!  "Sixteen Men on  a Dead Man's Chest" mentioned in FIAR Volume I's Cranberry Thanksgiving comes to mind...or "Blow the Man Down!"   There are many songs of the sea, so pick one appropriate for your family and have fun!

Here's a fun one!  Put the pirate jigsaw puzzle together, then click on the Start button to hear the song.  A fun animation and a catchy tune!  (If you don't want to put the puzzle together, you can just click on start and sing along!)  There are other pirate activities on this site, but I've not explored them.

Here's one you can sing to the tune of This Old Man.
Here's a song about a girl pirate, from PBS's Between the Lions.


Math -- Dates:    Have the child find the date of copyright in the front of the book (1973). Ask him how many years ago that was, helping him to subtract if needed. The book I’m doing this unit from happened to be mine from when I was a child. It was fun to make mention of the clothes from that era, and tell children of having clothes just like them. Also, tell them the year you were born and have them figure out how old you were when the story was copyrighted, and how old you are now (or, how many years it was copyrighted before you were born).
Math -- Counting Treasure:   Pirates had to be good at their math skills to make sure they got their “fair share” of treasure. Use little jewels, foil covered chocolate coins, or some other treasure as manipulatives for whatever skill you are currently working on.


Science -- Reflections:   There was a reflection of the ship in the water. Explain what causes a reflection. When light rays bounce off something, such as the ship in the story, and on to a flat smooth area, such as a pond, you see these rays as a reflection. Have your child look at his reflection in different items, such as aluminum foil, a mirror, a polished spoon and a puddle of water. Do they all look the same? The flatter, smoother, and shinier the object, the clearer the reflection will be. Also have him observe how the reflection is a reverse image. Have fun writing secret messages to each other in backwards writing that must be read in their reflections.
Science -- Buoyancy:   When Jenny put the walnut shell in the water it did float. What causes something to float instead of sink? Discuss the term buoyancy, the capacity to float, with your child. When a boat floats, it pushes some of the water under it aside. The water around the boat pushes back. This force of water holds up the boat, letting it float. If the boat becomes too heavy, from something such as too many people aboard, a large wave filling the boat with water, or as in this story, something heavy falls on it, the weight of the boat is too much for the force around it, and it will capsize or sink. Read The Magic School Bus, Ups and Downs by Joanna Cole to learn more about things that sink and float.
Science -- Telescopes:  Pirates and other seamen often used telescopes to look for other ships and to watch for dangerous rocks. Telescopes were first invented about 400 years ago. Telescopes such as the one invented by Galileo in 1609 were “refracting telescopes”. They had two lenses, a larger objective lens and a smaller ocular lens, which was held near the eye. Rays of light would enter through the objective lens, and as they passed through the second lens, the light was bent again to magnify the image. The image, while appearing to be up to 33X closer, actually appeared backward and upside down. This design was later improved by the addition of mirrors. Just for fun, maybe your child would like to make a telescope using the directions found here.

Science -- Health:  Jenny thought many of her toys needed some exercise. Do you and your children have a regular exercise routine? If not, why not start right now by tightening up those tummy muscles with some sit-ups or toe touches. Active bodies make healthy bodies! If you are looking for a more structured physical fitness program, homeschools are eligible to participate in the President’s Challenge. Click here for more info.

Home Ec

Cooking  – Have your child help you make a seafaring snack of tuna fish sandwiches and seaweed (chopped spinach), or a dinner of Pirate Pie.


Go along Webpages for the parent to explore and share with child as appropriate:

Treasure Island to read on-line
Treasure Island unit
Pirate word search

Another Pirate Word Search
Pirate Bookmarks to print and color
Many Pirate worksheets and project ideas (you must be a member)

Pirate activities (you can purchase patches here if you want your child to do activities to “earn” a patch)
Lots more links!

For great faith-based audio stories, be sure to listen to some Patch the Pirate stories this week too!

Visit Majesty Music to purchase some Patch the Pirate audios, or see if you can borrow some from your library.