Essential Information

Key Stage Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2
School Subject History, Literacy
Resource Type Classroom activity

Stories from the Sea: Pirates

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. 

Pirate films

How can you act like a Pirate?

Live like a Pirate

Calico Jack and Pirate Treasure


Pirate Resources

Click on the names below for a description and to download the files for free

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.

Nautic Alley

Discover a secret place where pirates buy their wares. Where could it be? How do they get into it?

Where Did You Get That Hat?

What do pirates wear on their heads? Make a role-play pirate hat shop.

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.

Pirate Picnic

Make a shopping list for a pirate picnic inspired by a story. Activity devised by Helen Horler.

Trouble at Sea

Talk about what adventures the class might have with the pirates on board their ships. Activity devised by Helen Horler.

Pretty Polly

Have some fun with parrot sayings and alliterative phrases.

Treasure Island

Learn about coordinates with a map from the collection of Pirate objects. 

Land Ahoy

Create and play a simple pirate board game with adventure cards.

Pirates - Goodies or Baddies?

Goodies or Baddies? Are all pirates bad? Was Francis Drake an explorer or a pirate?

Pirate Currency

Design pirate coins and hide pirate treasure for others to find.

Playing Pirates

Create a pirate ship role-play area ideal for listening to a story.

Pirate Objects

A gallery of fearsome pirates and everything they need for swashing, buckling and sailing the seven seas.


An early version of the shotgun.

Brass Knuckles

Pirates would wear these while fighting, to protect their hands and make punches more dangerous. 

Calico Bodice

A piece of women's clothing made from a type of cotton. 'Calico' Jack Rackham was a famous pirate.


This small cannon can turn round on its stand to point in any direction - useful for shooting at pirates boarding your ship!


Iron and stone balls would be fired from a ship's cannons.

Clasp Knife

The blade can be folded into the handle when the knife is not being used.


A Mariner's Compass. Pirates, like all sailors, needed compasses to show them which way they were going at sea and help them read maps.


This tiny crown was treasure from Tibet.

Eight Reales

Spanish 'milled' dollars ('pieces of eight').

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.

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.



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.


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.

Historic Pirates

These examples of historic Pirates are the subject of more than a few hair raising tales


The infamous pirate Blackbeard - one of the original ‘pirates of the Caribbean’.


Report of the execution of the ‘Flowery Land Pirates’ in 1864.

Chinese Pirates

Captured flag of Chinese pirate Shap Ng Tsai.

Dragut Reis

One of the 'Barbary pirates’, who were based in North Africa.

Anne Bonny and Mary Read

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were two female pirates in the 1700s.

Chinese pirate Ching Shih captures Lt. Turner

Lt Turner was taken prisoner by the Ladrone pirates led by the powerful Chinese woman pirate Ching Shih.

William Kidd's Treasure

Pirate captain William Kidd burying a treasure chest and assorted loot on Gardiner’s Island, just off New York.

Book list 

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



See other resources packs in Stories from the Sea

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.