There are no direct links to pirates in the National Curriculum, although characters such as Sir Francis Drake, Captain Kidd and Blackbeard could potentially be studied as part of the ‘famous people’ topic in History at Key Stage 1. The subject as a whole can be used to develop knowledge and understanding of Local History for KS2 as well as support literacy and historical understanding.
An example as to how it can used with local history is Bristol and the West Country. Key learning objectives are likely to relate to understanding the importance of the port of Bristol, and its connections to trade and piracy across the world. Pupils could also be encouraged to compare the reality of 17th and 18th century piracy to fictionalised pirates such as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Long John Silver from Treasure Island. Reference can be made to local sites with pirate connections such as the Llandoger Trow and Hole in the Wall public houses in Bristol, Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and Fowey in Cornwall. The theme of piracy could also be used to inspire creative writing in literacy.
Key messages are:
- Pirates are robbers at sea
- Pirates have existed for over 2000 years
- The early growth in piracy was due to the rise in ocean-going trade
- Real pirates have inspired books and films such as Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates of the Caribbean
- Many famous English ‘heroes’ such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh were pirates
- Some women became pirates, such as Anne Bonney, Mary Read and Grace O’Malley
- Piracy still exists today wherever there are failed or failing states with coastlines
What does the word ‘pirate’ mean?
Why would a pirate have a wooden leg, eye patch or an earring?
What evidence do we have for history’s most famous pirates?
Why did people become pirates?
Why have pirates become so popular in books, films and plays?
Why are Bristol and the south west famous for piracy?
What was the treasure pirates fought for?
Activities and games:
- Ooh arrr, Shiver me timbers! Exploring pirate words and phrases
- True or false? Examining pirate fact and fiction
- Playing skittles and deck quoits
- Walking the plank
- Treasure hunt
- Pirate (dodgeball) cannonballs
- Pirate in the pillory