One of the best things about homeschooling is being able to be super creative with our studies, and we’re really doing that with North Carolina history. We started out this school year with a study of pirates and the Carolina coast, where Blackbeard once lived.
My Little Man chose to be Black Bart, who is known for refusing to commit murder on Sundays.
Costumes are a big deal for these events, and my two created their own. We shopped for a few pieces, like the Big Helper’s boots and the cutlasses, but they sewed the rest. My Little Man’s red vest was originally a long-sleeved polo, which we cut and he added buttons. MyBig Helper created her skirt out of a cast-off t-shirt and changed the neckline on an old blouse to make it workable. She cut strips of fabric for belts and sewed a pocket to keep her gold in. They each learned some sewing skills from this project.
When we first arrived, everyone had to explore the amazing pirate ship that our hosts had created out of a trailer, some stored antiques, and cardboard. It was wonderful! With anchors, sails, a cannon, a plank, and even barrels, it was perfect for role-playing, and pirates of all ages got into it.
The kids’ first activity was to sign the Articles of Accord. These articles established the government and punishments on board the ship, and each crew member had to sign upon being chosen to join. With such a big group of people and a wild topic, we started out the day with our own Articles to establish expected behavior.
Next they had to build their ships. The four oldest kids became our pirate captains, and they chose their crews from among the younger kids. Then we showed them pictures of ships that were used by pirates, and each captain chose a ship based on their desired style. Armed with refrigerator boxes, extra cardboard, markers, paint, and the like, each crew then had to construct their style of ship. The teens did an amazing job of directing and protecting their young crew members, and we had some really neat ships to play with when finished.
Another activity was making compasses. The mom in charge of this one brought needles, small discs, and a magnet. Each person magnetized their needle, and then placed it in the disc, and then put the disc in a dish of water. It was a great science lesson!
Although nobody knows for sure if any pirates actually hid their treasures, we couldn’t have a pirate party without a treasure hunt! These three pirates were excited to find hidden gold.
Weapons were a big deal during the Golden Age of Piracy, and luckily for us, our host dad knows his way around them. He brought this muzzle loader, which operates on similar principles to some of the weapons of the day, and demonstrated how it worked. Then, loaded only with wadding, he loaded the gun and let each interested pirate have a shot.
While the pirates waited for their turn to shoot, other pirates engaged in hand-to-hand combat here on the plank. For real pirates back in the day, keeping their balance on a moving ship on the rolling seas amidst smoke and destruction, and so games like this would have been held to determine who would join the crew. Our pirates certainly enjoyed this chance to put their swordsmanship skills to the test!
That awesome dad didn’t stop there, though. With a potato gun painted black and set up cannon-style, he taught the kids how to load, fire, and aim it. Physics outside under a beautiful blue sky! Class couldn’t get any better than this.
How do you get down and dirty with school lessons?
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