Arr matey! Fun and Learning with Pirate Play.

One wonderful and natural way that children can practice patience, cooperation, problem solving is through imaginative and creative play. In the spirit of the family creations blog carnival, today I am sharing about my family’s favorite pirate activities, how and what we learn from them.

Welcome to the July 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Creations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared crafts, recipes, and philosophies of creativity. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Building a pirate ship:

We have built many pirate ships, from cardboard boxes to using rope and a piece of scrap wood, no matter what kind of ship we build, it always turns into a really great exercise in cooperation and patience. A few months ago we decided to transform our climbing structure into a pirate ship, we had to take apart 300 pieces, map out the new building plans and then put the 300 pieces back together. It took two afternoons’ to complete the project but all three children were so proud of their work. During the building process, each child had a job, and the pieces being colored made for a fun game for my two year old to talk about colors, the four year old to do some sorting and the six year old helped solve many fit issues with the connectors in the set. Best of all, we had a lot of fun!

Creating pirate peg-legs:

We saw this idea in a children’s pirate magazine that we subscribe to and my boys wanted to make one right away. This was a great exercise in trial and error and working through frustrations. First we had to find all the supplies and we didn’t have a plunger, so we had to figure out which day we would be able to go buy one. Once we actually had the supplies, we had to try many times to make the peg leg fit just right. Four year old captain mud pants, could not walk with the peg leg and this made him very frustrated. Finally he sat down and worked finding new ways to attach the peg leg and camouflage his own leg until he could walk with it. He was really busy for a long time. It was hard not to rescue him out of this but priceless to watch him work through some tears and do a lot of thinking and learning on his own. (Also, this may seem like an insensitive activity and I was hesitant to include it here, but one of my son’s best friends from playschool is wheelchair bound and part of his tears he told me were because he saw what it’s like not to have legs that work  so I think it’s an interesting activity for children to learn about empathy and disabilities too.)

Pirate Play-dough

A super fun way to play with play-dough is making it into pirate play-dough! I use a no-cook playdough recipe, and then we add some food coloring to make it either brown with gold glitter or black with silver glitter. Ok, any color with glitter! This is great for fine motor skills, independent play, being creative and having some messy fun. The only thing is you may find glitter in the weirdest places for days!!

Pirate Sensory Bins

We have accumulated quite some pirate goodies from different birthday parties and such, stickers, buttons, eye patches, playmobil figurines etc…sometimes we toss it all into big bowls and then cover it all up with pasta (dried beans work too) and the kids play with it. Recently, we put a bunch of mini swords into a heap of shaving foam and it was hilarious great fun. It also took some patience for the children to get all the swords out of the mess and cleaned up again.

Pirate Songs

Arrr you ready to sing? We love to make up silly pirate songs. I think the children naturally learn a lot about language when we play with words and rhymes, we explore rythm, melody and of course taking turns and respecting each other’s creativity. Sometimes the pirates disagree on what words to use in a song so they can also problem solve how to fit them in or find an alternative together… The most recent song we made is:
Captain Smelly Feet.

Smelly feet, Oh Captain smelly feet
He went to buy, to buy a treat.
Smelly feet, Oh Captain smelly feet
All he could find was a broken bicycle seat.
Ahoy, Ahoy, let’s repeat!
Smelly feet….

Plus we also love to dance and sing to pirate songs like this one:

Get your own copy of Portside Pirates Sing-a-long Book!

Building binoculors, going on treasure hunt, making pirate food, the possibilities are endless!

So matey, what kind of pirate fun and learning are you having at your harbor?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Garden Soup — Bailey finds a way to help momma Katy (from Muse of a Daffodil) in the garden.
  • This One Time, I Tried To Make a Car — Ashley at Domestic Chaos tries once again to make something crafty from stuff around the house.
  • Pin-tastic creative ideas — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how Pinterest is inspiring creativity in her family this summer.
  • Baby Hiccups In The Womb — Alinka at Baby Web shares one of the ways she bonds with her unborn baby.
  • Turtle Mosaics — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school and her little family spend a quiet hour making a turtle mosaic inspired by the work of Melanie Mikecz.
  • Edible Art Plus 8 Art Supply Recipes — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares some natural, chemical-free art supply alternatives, which are gauranteed to be tons of fun for children or all ages. They taste great too!
  • A surprise art lesson — Tat at Mum in search has been taking art lessons from her 5-year-old son.
  • Memory Creation — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about how her family aims to create as many memories as they can as a family.
  • A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words — Melissa at Momma Beer tries to replace cars with crafts.
  • My Creative Family: Sometimes Messy, Always Fun — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM embraces the messes that sometimes accompany creative play but admits you don’t always have to get dirty to have fun.
  • Fun Family Learning: Constellation Cave Tutorial — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter gives step-by-step instructions for building a fun new twist on a cardboard box playhouse.
  • Cooking… Kind Of — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings makes pizza with her daughter, hoping to inspire a love of cooking and encourage a bigger interest in food. As well as making mess and having lots of fun, of course!
  • Crockpot Refried BeansThat Mama Gretchen‘s family loves to experiment with new recipes, and today she’s sharing a kitchen success!
  • Creating Memories — Andrea at Tales of Goodness reflects on how the best creations can emerge from just letting kids be kids.
  • Making Beautiful Things … And Sometimes Just Average-Looking Ones — Tamara at Tea for Three looks for ways to add more craft and creativity into every day family life.
  • Making Fruit Leather Together — When Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work took some time to involve her children in the process of finally trying a fruit leather recipe stored on her Pinterest food board, she got more than just a scrumptious homemade snack as a result!

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

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