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Pirate Messages

Yo ho-ho and a shiver me be, a pirate’s map that's clear to see? Not if you hide the directions to the treasure under Crayola® Erasable Twistables™!

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ah, the pirate’s life, sailing the open seas, visiting the world’s sights, and collecting treasures! Actually, pirates were criminals who took what was not theirs and spread fear around the globe. Many rulers protected and encouraged pirates’ activities while asking for part of their booty. Some famous pirates are John Paul Jones, Jean Lafitte, and Sir Francis Drake. Organize students into small groups. Ask each group to select one pirate to study. Select appropriate text and electronic resources for students to use during their investigation.
    2. Once research is complete, ask students to consider how pirates may have used maps. These were very valuable tools to pirates and sailors alike. Few pirates buried their treasure. Most spent it instead. Rock Braziliano was one pirate who did bury his treasure on a Caribbean island. Invite students to look at a map that includes the Carribbean Islands. Why would a pirate choose to bury his treasure there?
    3. Challenge students to create a treasure map that may have been helpful to a pirate. Picture a land where pirates would hide treasures. Would it be near water? Students begin by covering their work area with recycled newspaper. Cover white paper with Crayola Washable Watercolors to make the paper look yellow with age. Air-dry the paper.
    4. With Crayola Washable Markers and Twistables, students draw their treasure maps. Encourage them to show landmarks and details.
    5. In one corner, students write the directions to find their treasure in marker. What measurements would pirates have used to help them find their treasure?
    6. Using Erasable Colored Pencils of the same colors, students cover the details. Now only pirates who have Erasable Colored Pencils will be able to erase the colored pencils and see the map’s precise details!
    7. To make maps look well used, students tear around the edges. Fold and refold it. Crumple it if so desired.
    8. Students present their treasure maps to small groups of classmates. Encourage presenting groups to share the reasoning behind their selection of locations for buried treasure!
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their artworks.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural aesthetic inquiry.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long; Pirate by Richard Platt

    Students work in small groups to make treasure maps of their school and/or playground. Students hide fun treasures such as notes or treats. Exchange maps with another student group to find the treasures.

    Were women pirates? Students investigate this question. Be certain to include in your research reasons why women in history dressed in men's clothing.

    Students research a specific pirate in history. Students organize research and prepare to present it to classmates while wearing an original pirate costume created out of recycled materials.

    Pirating still happens today. Students investigate who are considered modern-day pirates. Where are they usually found? What activities do these people participate in that make them modern-day pirates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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