Welcome to the merciless and thieving world of pitiless pirates, full of flintlock pistols, pieces-of-eight and Jolly Rogers – and plenty of fodder for great story writing. Here you will find films, activities, objects and images, a booklist and links to talk about pirates and inspire writing.
Stories from the Sea supports teachers to develop children’s skills in writing by inspiring them to explore our local and national maritime past through world-class museum collections of objects, paintings and manuscripts, intriguing stories and unforgettable characters.
A wealth of activities to support pirate-themed writing.
Nautic Alley: Discover a secret place where pirates buy their wares. Where could it be? How do they get into it?
Pirate Currency: Design pirate coins and hide pirate treasure for others to find.
Pirate Pairs: Play Pirate Pairs with a selection of our pirate objects.
Pirate Partners: Play Pirate Partners using words from our collection of pirate objects.
Pirate Picnic: Make a shopping list for a pirate picnic inspired by a story. Activity devised by Helen Horler.
Pirates - Goodies or Baddies?: Are all pirates bad? Was Francis Drake an explorer or a pirate?
Land Ahoy: Create and play a simple pirate board game with adventure cards.
Playing Pirates: Create a pirate ship role-play area ideal for listening to a story.
Pretty Polly: Have some fun with parrot sayings and alliterative phrases.
Talk Like A Pirate: Talk about what the people are doing in a picture of pirates meeting the Navy, and record dialogue. Activity devised by Helen Horler.
Treasure Island: Learn about coordinates with a map from the collection of Pirate objects.
Trouble At Sea: Talk about what adventures the class might have with the pirates on board their ships. Activity devised by Helen Horler.
Where Did You Get That Hat?: What do pirates wear on their heads? Make a role-play pirate hat shop.
Pirate objects and images
A gallery of fearsome pirates and everything they need for swashing, buckling and sailing the seven seas.
Blackbeard: the infamous pirate Blackbeard - one of the original ‘pirates of the Caribbean’.
Blunderbuss: an early version of the shotgun.
Brass Knuckles: pirates would wear these while fighting, to protect their hands and make their punches more dangerous.
Broadsheet Newspaper: report of the execution of the ‘Flowery Land Pirates’ in 1864.
Calico Bodice: a piece of women's clothing made from a type of cotton. 'Calico' Jack Rackham was a famous pirate.
Cannon: this small cannon can turn round on its stand to point in any direction - useful for shooting at pirates boarding your ship!
Cannonball: iron and stone balls would be fired from a ship's cannons.
Chinese Flag: captured flag of Chinese pirate Shap Ng Tsai.
Clasp Knife: the blade can be folded into the handle when the knife is not being used.
Crown: this tiny crown was treasure from Tibet.
Dragut Reis: one of the 'Barbary pirates’, who were based in North Africa.
Eight Reales: Spanish 'milled' dollars ('pieces of eight').
Female Pirates: Anne Bonny and Mary Read were two female pirates in the 1700s.
Gunpowder Tin: for keeping pirates' gunpowder dry - if it got wet they wouldn't be able to fire their guns.
Jolly Roger: for showing that a ship's crew were pirates, and for scaring other ships into surrendering.
Lieutenant Turner Made Prisoner: Lt Turner was taken prisoner by the Ladrone pirates led by the powerful Chinese woman pirate Ching Shih.
Macaw: a proper pirate parrot.
Mariner's Compass: pirates needed compasses to show them which way they were going at sea and help them read maps.
Naval Hat: worn by Navy officers in the late 1700s and 1800s.
Naval Uniform: coat belonging to a Royal Navy lieutenant.
Night Telescope: telescope specially designed for seeing at night. Pirates used telescopes to spot far-off ships and to look at the stars to help them find their way at sea.
Scrimshaw: a picture carved onto a whale's tooth. Pirates and sailors made these to keep from getting bored.
Smuggling Lugger: a ship flying the Jolly Roger, trying to smuggle its cargo under cover of darkness.
Sword: this sword was found buried near a church in Lowestoft. The blade is curved to make it easier to fight with in small spaces like inside a ship.
William Kidd's Treasure: pirate captain William Kidd burying a treasure chest and assorted loot on Gardiner’s Island, just off New York.
Tales and facts to make you shiver your timbers.
- Jolly Roger & The Pirates Of Abdul The Skinhead – Colin McNaughton
- Blackbeard the Pirate – Victor G Ambrus
- The Lighthouse Keepers Lunch – Ronda and David Armitage
- The Pirate Cruncher – Jonny Duddle
- Pirate Things To Make & Do – Rebecca Gilpin (Usborne Activities)
- Pirate Gran – Geraldine Durrant
- Pirate Gran Goes For Gold – Geraldine Durrant
- Pirate Gran & The Monsters – Geraldine Durrant
- Pirates Love Underpants – Clare Freedman
- The Pirates Next Door – Jonny Duddle
- The Night Pirates – Peter Harris
- Mrs Pirate – Nick Sharratt
- Captain Flinn & The Pirate Dinosaurs – Giles Andreae & Russell Ayto
- Pirate Girl – Kersten Meyer & Chantal Wright
- Scarlet Silver: The Impossible Island – Sarah McConnell
- How I Became A Pirate – Melinda Long & David Shannon
- Scarlett Silver: Freda the Fearless – Sarah McConnell
- Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter’s Companion – Dugald Steer
- Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction & Folklore – George Beahm
- Lives of the Pirates: Swashbucklers & Scoundrels – Kathleen Krull
- Everything I Know About Pirates – Tom Lichtenheld
- Pirate Soul – Pat Croce
- The Book of Pirates – Jamaica Rose & Captain Michael MacLeod
- Pirates – John Matthews
- The Pirate Primer: Mastering The Language of Swashbucklers & Rogues – George Choundas
- Tough Boris – Mem Fox
- Pirates (National Geographic)
- Blackbeard Lives!
- The Kids’ Window: Pirates
- International Talk Like A Pirate Day: Junior Pirates
- Yarr Maps
- Funschool Pirates
Websites about museums and objects to inspire writing:
See other resources packs in Stories from the Sea
- Exploration resource: Enter the exciting world of exploration
- Shipwrecks resource: Enter the dangerous world of shipwrecks
Partners and supporters
Stories from the Sea is a partnership between the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth. The resource is funded by Arts Council England’s Museums and Schools programme.