Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

High Seas Adventure

on August 11, 2012

Little Bear developed a fascination with pirates several months ago, so as soon as I mentioned an ocean theme, she immediately asked if pirates would be a part of it. With that request, our ocean theme took on a life of its own. We’re still learning about the ocean, its inhabitants, beaches, shells, sand and whatever else captures her interest, but we’re also learning about the golden age of exploration — and piracy.

I realized going into this study that Little Bear’s perception of pirates was somewhat skewed. She saw them as jovial characters who sailed around in cool ships, talked to parrots and wore colorful clothes. Much I love her imagination and innocence, I felt it was time to break the news that pirates weren’t all that nice.

We started by reading an abridged version of Treasure Island that was supposed to be suitable for younger readers. As we began reading, I realized that Treasure Island was a lot darker than I remembered. The editors of the adaptation we read did a good job of preserving the heart of the story while toning down the more violent scenes, but … well, it’s a tale of piracy, of mutiny and murder on the high seas. And while I probably won’t read it to the girls again until they’re both well past the preschool years, it did change Little Bear’s perspective on pirates!

After Treasure Island, we turned to several tame-by-comparison non-fiction books about piracy throughout history and famous pirates and privateers. We also enjoyed some lighter fictional reading, including Pirate Pete and The Barefoot Book of Pirates, both of which earned a spot on our wishlist of library books we’d like to add to our own library.

Along with reading about pirates, we’ve enjoyed some pirate and buried treasure play. Little Bear especially enjoyed playing with a Pirates Ahoy! miniature sandbox I’d picked up on clearance last year. I’d researched these miniature sandbox sets before purchasing and had heard good things about them. After buying one, though, I had second thoughts. I just couldn’t bring myself to give Little Bear an *indoor* sand toy … so I stuck the unopened set in our gift closet, where it sat because I also couldn’t bring myself to give anyone else’s child an indoor sand toy. Desperate times call for desperate measures, though. I needed a ship and a treasure chest for planned activities, and this set included both. So I took a deep breath, opened the box, borrowed the items I needed, then turned Little Bear loose to play with it … on a mat … atop a tile floor … behind a baby gate. Restrictions not withstanding, she had a blast:

Pirate sand play

Surprisingly, she did, in fact, manage to contain most of the sand to the mat, and I’ll probably actually let her play with this toy in the house some more over the next couple of weeks. I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t looking forward to cooler days when sand play can move back outside where God and nature intended for it to be!

On a more academic note, we downloaded pirate printables from 2 Teaching Mommies and Over The Big Moon and have had a blast with these free resources. Given Little Bear’s age and abilities, I actually only printed the tracing worksheets, cutting pages, and one probability game. Sequencing, sorting, and spot-the-difference activities we did on screen. (Hey, color ink is expensive!) We also located pirate safe-havens and countries that endorsed privateers on our globe.

Last but not least, Little Bear got the pirate-themed lunch she’d been begging for — a peanut butter and rice cake pirate, cheese toast treasure map, carrot and black olive swords, skewered tropical fruit, and a treasure chest buried along a {chocolate} rocky shore. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was relatively healthy, and it delighted my sweet girl:

A pirate’s lunch

We’re continuing our ocean study this coming week and will probably read through most of our pirate books at least once more time before returning them to the library. I’m also hoping we find time to …

    • make patterns with glass gems and plastic doubloons,
    • dig for plastic doubloons in the “real” sandbox,
    • see how many glass gems it takes to sink the girls’ toy boat,
    • follow a map to find a treasure hidden in our yard,
    • do some pirate-themed Do-A-Dot painting pages, and
    • create and solve story problems using our gems and doubloons.

Regardless of how much of the list we get through, our high seas adventures will certainly be remembered as both eye-opening and entertaining!


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