Pirates in the Park Author
Pirates in the Park
Author: Thom Roberts
Illustrator: Harrold Berson
Synopsis: When boys at a pond won't let her play along with their
toy pirate ship, Jenny makes a ship out of a walnut shells and sails
off into an imaginary adventure in a great ship of her own.
A literature-based unit study by Wende
Geography -- The Seven Seas:
boy at the park boasted that his ship could out sail any on the seven seas.
Looking at a world map, have your child locate the seven seas. On an outline
map of the world, have child label all the major bodies of water. The Seven
Seas are considered to be the North and South Atlantic, the North and South
Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic, and the Antarctic oceans.
Geography -- Land and Water Forms:
Pond – A body
of still water, smaller than a lake. Sometimes ponds are naturally
created by water running off to a low spot, and sometimes they are man
Island – A piece of land
entirely surrounded by water.
Cove – A bay-like recess into a
River – A large, natural stream
of water, usually fed by smaller creeks along it’s course, and
discharging into a larger body of water such as a lake or ocean.
Horizon – The line you see
looking out as far as you can, where the sky meets the earth or sea.
Social Studies -- Pirates:
study of pirates is an often interesting (and over-glamorized) subject for
children. There are many good books about pirates and their history
available. An especially colorful and informative book is
The World of the Pirate by Val
Garwood. The basics involving the Pirates
in the Park are covered below.
Pirate Flags –
The boy’s toy pirate ship had a Jolly Roger flag, the most famous of
pirate flags. Some pirates designed their own flags, the scarier and
more threatening the better, and others just used the standard skull and
cross bones. Have your child design a pirate flag.
Boasting: The boy at the park was very boastful about the speed and
quality of his ship. What happened in the end of the story? A passing log
crushed his ship. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let
another man praise you, and not your own mouth.” The Lord does not
want us to be proud or boastful. If we do good and right things, then people
will notice, and even if they don’t, Jesus will. Instead of looking like a
great ship, it looked like a pile of rubble that nobody was much interested
in playing with. Share a time when maybe your boastfulness backfired on you,
or ask your child if something like that ever happened to him/her.
Pirate Weapons – The pirates in
the story had swords and cannons for weapons. Generally, pirates
possessed whatever weapons they had stolen from victim ships, and
usually had very well stocked arsenals. They had short weapons, such as
a flintlock pistol, cutlass, and dagger, for fighting on board in close
quarters. For attacking at a distance they used cannons, catapults,
muskets, grenades, and stinkpots. Maybe your child would like to make a
cutlass from cardboard and aluminum foil, or a catapult from K-Nex and
Pirate Clothes – Much of the
clothes pirates wore were obtained during attacks. The clothing worn was
chosen for it’s comfort and durability, and ease of moving around and
fighting. Kerchiefs were worn around a pirate’s head to keep out dirt
and dust, and to catch sweat. Sashes, usually of red, were pirate
trademarks. And every once in a while, a pirate did wear an eye patch to
cover the damage done in some altercation. Let your child have some fun
dressing up in pirate garb.
Pirate Gear Prepared Page
Pirate Ships – Pirates used
whatever ships they could steal, as long as they were fast. They
especially preferred small fast ships that were easy to steer, so they
could sneak up on their victims and get away fast. There are many ship
terms used throughout the story. Have your children look at the pictures
of the S.S. Walnut and the Skull. Can he locate some of the items
mentioned? A picture of a pirate ship with parts labeled
can be found by clicking here.
Gang Plank – A temporary bridge for passengers
between a ship and land.
Helm – The steering apparatus of a ship.
Mainsail – The principal sail on a mainmast.
Mainmast – The second mast from the front of the ship (the bow).
Gunwale – The upper edge of the side of a ship.
Masts – A pole set upright in a ship to support the sails
Sails – A piece of material attached by ropes to a mast in a ship
that catches the wind to help the ship propel forward.
Anchor – A heavy, hooked implement, usually of iron or steel that is
attached to a cable and dropped from a ship to hold it in place.
Pirate Sayings – “Shiver me
timbers, mates”, the boy with the pirate ship exclaims. The boy is
saying “Goodness me!” There are quite a few pirate sayings your child
may or may not be familiar with. “Ahoy there” means “Hey!” “Lands Ahoy”
means that there is land within sight. “Tell it to the parrot” means to
tell everyone. If there is an interest, try to obtain a film with a
pirate theme such as an animated version of
Treasure Island, or the movie
Captain Kidd starring Charles
Laughton to hear more pirate sayings.
Language Arts -- Reality and Fantasy:
While this story had many events that could have really happened, it also
had many elements of fantasy. Discuss with your child, which parts were real
and which parts were fantasy. Many of the children in the story were using
their imagination, pretending to be pirates, cowboys, and ship captains.
Have your child use his imagination to narrate or write a story that
includes elements of reality and fantasy, maybe with himself as a pirate!
Language Arts -- Abbreviations: An
abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Jenny called her ship
the S.S. Walnut. The abbreviation S.S. is short for “steamship”. Some other
common abbreviations your child may be familiar with are Mr., Mrs., Dr., as
well as state abbreviations and address abbreviations. Point out the
abbreviation S.S. in the story, and encourage child to write out some
Language Arts -- Italics: Your child
may notice that Skull and Walnut are printed in a slightly slanted style
called italics. Italics are used to
emphasize a certain word, indicate titles of magazines, newspapers, books,
plays, films, a foreign word, and in this case, the names of ships. If you
have “rowed” FIAR title The Glorious Flight,
your child may also remember that names of planes are italicized as well.
Have child find all the italicized words in the story.
Art and Music
Art -- Shapes and Details:
your child through all the pictures of the ships. Take notice of the details
in the many shapes and lines, the rectangular flags, the triangular sails,
the circular helm and portholes, and the many ropes. Examine the ornate
carvings on the bows of the ships. Have your child try his hand at drawing a
ship, using some of the details found in the pictures. If he needs a little
click here for some “How-to-Draw” instructions for a pirate ship (and a
As you do this unit,
be sure to sing some sea chanties (also spelled shanties)! "Sixteen Men on
a Dead Man's Chest" mentioned in FIAR Volume I's
Cranberry Thanksgiving comes to
mind...or "Blow the Man Down!" There are many songs of the sea, so pick
one appropriate for your family and have fun!
Here's a fun one! Put the pirate jigsaw puzzle together, then click
on the Start button to hear the song. A fun animation and a catchy
tune! (If you don't want to put the puzzle together, you can just click
on start and sing along!) There are other pirate activities on this
site, but I've not explored them.
Here's one you can sing to the tune of This Old Man.
Math -- Dates: Have the child find
the date of copyright in the front of the book (1973). Ask him how many
years ago that was, helping him to subtract if needed. The book I’m doing
this unit from happened to be mine from when I was a child. It was fun to
make mention of the clothes from that era, and tell children of having
clothes just like them. Also, tell them the year you were born and have them
figure out how old you were when the story was copyrighted, and how old you
are now (or, how many years it was copyrighted before you were born).
Math -- Counting Treasure: Pirates
had to be good at their math skills to make sure they got their “fair share”
of treasure. Use little jewels, foil covered chocolate coins, or some other
treasure as manipulatives for whatever skill you are currently working on.
Science -- Reflections: There was a
reflection of the ship in the water. Explain what causes a reflection. When
light rays bounce off something, such as the ship in the story, and on to a
flat smooth area, such as a pond, you see these rays as a reflection. Have
your child look at his reflection in different items, such as aluminum foil,
a mirror, a polished spoon and a puddle of water. Do they all look the same?
The flatter, smoother, and shinier the object, the clearer the reflection
will be. Also have him observe how the reflection is a reverse image. Have
fun writing secret messages to each other in backwards writing that must be
read in their reflections.
Science -- Buoyancy:
When Jenny put
the walnut shell in the water it did float. What causes something to float
instead of sink? Discuss the term buoyancy, the capacity to float, with your
child. When a boat floats, it pushes some of the water under it aside. The
water around the boat pushes back. This force of water holds up the boat,
letting it float. If the boat becomes too heavy, from something such as too
many people aboard, a large wave filling the boat with water, or as in this
story, something heavy falls on it, the weight of the boat is too much for
the force around it, and it will capsize or sink. Read
The Magic School Bus, Ups and Downs
by Joanna Cole to learn more about things that sink and float.
Science -- Telescopes: Pirates and
other seamen often used telescopes to look for other ships and to watch for
dangerous rocks. Telescopes were first invented about 400 years ago.
Telescopes such as the one invented by Galileo in 1609 were “refracting
telescopes”. They had two lenses, a larger objective lens and a smaller
ocular lens, which was held near the eye. Rays of light would enter through
the objective lens, and as they passed through the second lens, the light
was bent again to magnify the image. The image, while appearing to be up to
33X closer, actually appeared backward and upside down. This design was
later improved by the addition of mirrors. Just for fun, maybe your child
would like to
make a telescope using the directions found here.
Science -- Health: Jenny thought
many of her toys needed some exercise. Do you and your children have a
regular exercise routine? If not, why not start right now by tightening up
those tummy muscles with some sit-ups or toe touches. Active bodies make
healthy bodies! If you are looking for a more structured physical fitness
program, homeschools are eligible to participate in the President’s
Click here for more info.
Cooking – Have your child help you
make a seafaring snack of tuna fish sandwiches and seaweed (chopped
spinach), or a dinner of
Go along Webpages for
the parent to explore and share with child as appropriate:
Lots more links!
faith-based audio stories, be sure to listen to some
Patch the Pirate stories this
Visit Majesty Music to purchase some
Patch the Pirate audios, or see if you can borrow some from