As we navigate our way through the 1600s and 1700s, pirates appear over and over again. Pirates are an exciting way to get kids engaged in world history. They have existed for centuries in one form or another. The Golden Age of Piracy is said to have begin in 1660.
Throughout the times of the Pilgrims’ settling in America, through the founding of the new nation, the age of piracy was at its height. The British Navy had a full time job of evading, eluding, and also capturing pirates on the sea.
I love teaching history in a way that’s fun and draws kids in, and for young boys, the subject of pirates is a no-brainer. We weave this topic in our chronological history study of the 17th and 18th centuries. So, for us, this wasn’t a dedicated pirate study, but just one topic that appeared throughout the past several months.
We have a stack of great resources for this study. It is part of our 17th Century World History Curriculum. All of my kids under 12 are joining the pirate study.
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Most of my books were purchased at used book stores or book sales. Because we study world history chronologically, I can anticipate what topics we will be studying, and am always on the lookout for good books. (Yeah, I’ve amassed quite a library this way!) The great books on pirates are virtually endless, so I encourage you to scour used book stores and pick up a few.
Usborne Books is always good for incredible illustrated history books. We enjoyed True Stories of Pirates, a paperback chapter book, as well as the Pirate’s Handbook. (You can get these through an Usborne Books distributor, or used on eBay
This one was one of the best we found. It’s a mix of true stories, fictional tales and myths, illustrations, web links, and more:
More good finds from book sales:
With the growth of world exploration, navigation is a valuable lesson. We enjoyed this lesson in A Grid on Our Earth, An Exploration on Map Grids at Layers of Learning. This is perfect for most ages, but I especially liked it with the 8-12 year olds.
Drawing and Coloring
For drawing lessons in history, we LOVE Draw and Write Through History. My 10-year-old drew this pirate from the lessons in the book:
The book also includes a full page of cursive copywork on the Golden Age of piracy.
While I read aloud, I provide history coloring pages. My favorites are from Dover, including this one:
Obviously, Pirates of the Carribean is a fun movie for this. We did watch the first one for fun one day after reading about the British colonies and the trouble with pirates.
We also watched the National Geographic documentary Shipwreck: Captain Kidd. I found it through the Netflix DVD plan.
I happened upon a great creative-writing book called “A Pirate’s Guide to the Grammar of Story” and It. Is. Perfect. for the kids right now. We do a page or two daily. You can read my full review here.
Homeschool Share has a good list of Pirate Connections, unit studies, lapbooks, and book lists for all things PIRATE.
As usual, I like to read good books myself when I’m teaching my kids, and I might sometimes require the teenagers in the house to read what I’m reading. In this case, I definitely enjoyed this one:
We also read this Louis L’amour novel (one of his few non-westerns):
Have you included some good pirate tales in your history study? How do you study history? You can read how we do it here.
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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