Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Invitation to Learn Pirates

A Learning Lifestyle

My preschoolers are officially not preschoolers any more. As we step into Kindergarten and 2nd grade, and as a family new to "officially" homeschooling, I recently bought writing curriculum from BraveWriter and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The guidance offered essentially advocates for 1) focusing on creating an environment filled with books, music, and experiences; and, 2) a language-rich lifestyle - one where you listen to your child, respond thoughtfully, and pursue ideas together. (This builds on what we know about how preschoolers learn, too. ) She, of course, weaves writing lessons into the day and provides structure so parents don't have to come up with everything on their own. (Whew!) 

Books, Music, and Experiences

Despite being regulars at the library, I often find myself scouring the catalog and shelves for books that might work to answer my child's question or delve deeper into the subject du jour. It is no wonder why lists are some of the most popular blogs in the world. You know the ones: "101 Books to Read Before Kindergarten," "10+ Children's Books to Inspire Kindness," and my own  "24 Books for Preschool Engineers."

A Smaller, More Approachable List

The problem is that sometimes we want a smaller, more approachable list. One with fewer books that includes other things. I just want a few good books, a CD, and a video, perhaps a toy. Something like a thoughtful little themed basket.

Invitation to Learn

It is in the spirit of having a small sampling of one topic that I am writing Invitations to Learn. Each invitation grows from our homeschool life and is a pint-sized unit of study for the DIY crowd. With this list, I am inviting you to learn alongside your child and giving you a small amount of guidance for creating a rich learning environment in your home or school.

Read a book one day; listen to an audiobook another day; watch a movie a different day; go on a field trip a different day. By offering one great thing at a time, you are inviting your child to learn with you and enjoy learning with you! Over time you and your child will consider the topic in several different ways, using different materials, have different but related conversations about it, and you will grow your knowledge in wonderfully robust ways.


It is "Talk Like a Pirate Day" so I've collected treasure from the far reaches of the high seas (the internet). If you accept this Invitation to Learn about Pirates then grab your 'scopes (paper towel rolls) and set off to learn about lenses, map-making, and adventures on the high seas.

I have found some of these at the library or for free online. For your convenience, I will also include affiliate links when available.


I always love to start with a book (or two or three). 

Pirate Pete's Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy  (Author), Doug Kennedy (Illustrator)
  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Lexile Measure: AD790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
Popular Pete is Perfect for Talk Like a Pirate Day!  

Following the success of Pirate Pete and Pirate Pete’s Giant Adventure comes a new book by the celebrated brother-and-sister team of Doug and Kim Kennedy. In this new adventure, Pete has a wonderful new ship, but no crew. But not just any crew will do. As Pete explains:  
“Ye gots to be stubborn and mighty cranky, Ye gots to be dirty and awfully stanky!Ye gots to load a cannon and know how to fire it,But most of all, ye gots to talklike a pirate!”  
One by one Pete interviews his potential crew, and one by one they get the boot! Whoever will he find to help him sail the high seas? A hilarious and fun-to-read-aloud book that will have every child talking like a pirate. 

We're also HUGE fans of the VNHLP (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates). You can get started today with the audiobook version of the first book in the series titled "Magic Marks the Spot"!

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 900 (What's this?)
Pirates! Magic! Treasure! A gargoyle? Caroline Carlson's hilarious tween novel The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot is a seafaring romp like no other. The paperback features an Extras section containing an interview with the gargoyle, Hilary's application to the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, and a sneak peek at the second book in the series, The Terror of the Southlands.

Then you might want to give yourself a pirate name. 

Go to the Quiz, which will give you your name and a horoscope-type description of your swash-buckling ways.  http://www.piratequiz.com/ Or just make one following these simple instructions:

Pirate Activity Books 

There is a big selection of pirate-themed books published by Usborne Books and More. I'm a HUGE fan of their activity books like Build Your Own Pirate Ships (building with stickers), Pirate Maze Book, and the Wipe-Clean Pirate Activity Book

Make a Telescope

You will likely need a 'scope of some sort before you head out on an adventure. So surf over to National Geographic for how to use these items to make a 'scope:

  • Two paper towel tubes
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Paint (any color you like)
  • 2 convex lenses (you can get these from a pair of magnifying glasses or order them online)
(Of course, just a paper towel roll to peer through could be enough for preschoolers.)

And for a little extra check out this video by Mr. Wizard!

Mapmaking with Preschoolers

Go into the backyard and count your paces between objects (door to the sandbox, from one side to the other, etc.). Use blocks to model the couch and TV in the living room. Or color a picture of your child's bedroom. The possibilities for rich discussions that touch on STEAM are endless. And if you talk like a pirate then it is even more fun! 

For more ideas go to EcoBabySteps...

"Sobel shows in Mapmaking for Children that developmentally appropriate mapmaking for children progresses through scope (home > neighborhood > community > nation) as well as through methods of representation (models > pictures > panoramas > contour and aerial maps). The more open you make your request, the more naturally your child can move through the stages of thinking about and representing the world."

...or check out a picture book that can help it come alive.

Maps are about far more than getting from a to b. Maps can help children understand and explore both their everyday environment and faraway places. With an appealing search-and-find technique, Follow That Map! is an interactive picture book that explains and demonstrates key mapping concepts. Kids will enjoy following Sally and her friends as they search for Max and Ollie, a mischievous dog and cat on the lam from the backyard. Sally and friends take an imaginative trip through the neighborhood, city and country, around the world and beyond. Kids can join in the search for Max and Ollie, who are hiding somewhere in every map. An activity at the end of the book shows children how to make a map of their bedroom.

Time to Burst Your Bubble

In an article from National Geographic, historians shed some light on the truth about pirates.
"Brace yourself for a barrage of "salty dogs," "scallywags," and "swabbies." Tuesday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a parody holiday and general nerdfest ginned up on an Oregon racquetball court in 1995 to honor buccaneer speech of the 17th and 18th centuries. 
But did pirates really "arr" and "avast" all the time? Probably not, experts say, though it's tough to say exactly how most so-called Golden Age pirates really talked. 
"There isn't much in the way of scientific evidence in regards to pirate speech," said historian Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates:Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down."

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