Daily activity 29: Pirate Ships

April 30, 2020

This week’s theme:

Unsolved Mysteries – The Life of a Pirate

Fact of the day:

A good pirate ship needed three things: it needed to be seaworthy, fast, and well-armed in order to win fights.

Resources list:

Pirate ship materials from your recycling, washing up bowl/sink/bath, kitchen foil cannon balls, 6 marbles/pebbles/grapes/bottle caps/cotton reels/cherry tomatoes/whatever you have; Paper and pens; watercolour paints, brushes, salt; Youtube.

Activity 1:

Try your hand at engineering and make your own pirate ship. It could be made from a plastic milk bottle cut lengthways; a margarine tub, an egg box; a juice carton; a plastic bottle; a dish sponge; styrofoam packaging, a plastic vegetable tray, or anything else you can find that looks suitable. It doesn’t have to be really fancy looking, you can keep it very simple.

Now you’ve made your pirate ship, let’s see how seaworthy it is, and let’s test it for buoyancy… place your boat on water in the sink/a washing up bowl/the bath. Does it float? Does it sink? Does it tip over? How does it cope if there’s a slight ripple in the water? Would it made a good seaworthy ship for a gang of pirates to use? What would happen if your pirate ship was attacked by cannonballs – would it stay afloat? Try throwing tinfoil balls at your ship, when you make a strike does your ship cope well?

When pirates got a new ship, (usually by stealing one) they usually made some changes; they would mount as many cannons on the new ship as they could without significantly slowing her down or making her sink. Six cannons was the minimum that pirates liked to have on board. Let’s see how heavy we can make your ship before it sinks. Can you place six ‘cannons’ (such as 6 marbles/6 pebbles/6 grapes/6 bottle caps/6 cotton reels/6 cherry tomatoes/6 whatever you have!) on board your pirate ship and still stay afloat? Send us photos of your ships with their heavy loads, you can share them on our FacebookInstagram or Twitter or send it to melanie@purplepatcharts.org and we’ll put it online for you!

Activity 2:

The skull and crossbones flag at the top of a pirate ship is called a Jolly Roger. This flag was not the only flag used by pirates but was the most effective in scaring people into surrender without a battle. Many pirates also simply used a black flag. Some other pirate flags can be seen here.

Draw your own fearsome pirate flag – what seafaring design will yours have?

Activity 3:

Aboard their ships and galleons, pirates would use nautical terms for navigation and direction. Learn what these directions mean and point in the direction of each: Starboard (right), Port (left), Stern (back), Bow (front). Read, or have somebody read to you this series of navigation commands; how quickly can you point in the directions?

Activity 4:

There would be lots of salty seaspray aboard a pirate ship. Try watercolour painting using salt and see what effects you can create, like this.

Activity 5:

Listen to these pirate sea shanties and practice your rowing action, reaching forwards and backwards in time with the beat of the songs.

You could even try some ‘party’ rowing dance moves to Upside Your Head!

Activity 6:

A common pirate fact for all sailors: whistling on a ship is thought to bring bad fortune, especially if you whistle into the wind. Since we’re on dry ground, practice your whistling in time to this sea shanty.

Add on Activity:

Try this online pirate flag generator here (it uses quite out-of-date graphics, but is still fun!)