Top 10 arrrrr-t and craft activities to do as you set sail on your next pirate adventure

10. Pirate hats – Print and copy the pirate hat template from www.learningenglish-esl.blogspot.ca  on 8.5″ x 14″ paper.  Once students have coloured and cut out their hats, staple them in the middle of a 2″ x 24″ strip, leaving about 2″ of the hat brim unattached on each side.  Fit to each student’s head and staple strip into a loop.

Pirate hat1

9. Eye patches – These super quick and easy!  All you need is a small piece of paper, some string and some tape.  I make a patch tracer out of cardboard for my students to use as tracing is a great 2-handed activity for developing hand dominance and building fine motor skills.

eye patch

8. Hooks – Roll a 12″ piece of tinfoil up, squeeze it to form a tight “rod” and shape that rod into a hook. Take a cup (we used black paper cups here) and cut an “X” in the bottom.  Push about 3″ of the tinfoil hook through the “X ” in the cup to create a “handle” to hold on to on the inside of the cup.

Hook

7. Telescopes – All you need for this is a paper towel roll, some paint, glitter and some white glue.  For this one, I mixed the white glue into the yellow paint so that students could dip the ends of their telescope into glitter (and have it stick) once they are done painting.

Telescope

6. Noodle necklaces & tin foil earrings – Every good pirate needs some jewels.  Our pirates hang their tin foil loop earrings around their ear with an elastic band and we use dyed pasta to make our necklaces.  When doing threading activities with string, try wrapping masking tape around the end of the string to prevent fraying.  To learn how to dye pasta, click here.

Pirate necklace

5. Treasure maps – Have students draw their treasure maps with wax crayons.  When they are done drawing, have them paint their maps with watered down brown paint, then rinse them in a bucket (or sink of water) and then leave to dry.  (You can also dye them using tea however they need to soak in the tea for a while and this can be less efficient if you are working with a classroom of children).  Once dry, my students crumpled them up to make them look really old and some added little rips around the edges.

Treasure Map

4. Paper bag treasure chests – These are quite simple to do.  For complete instructions, please click here.

Treasure chest

3.  Salt dough treasure – Make salt dough.  Have students roll the dough and cut it into circles (we use water glasses).  Texture and details can beaded to the “treasure” using things like thread spools, screws, nuts and bolts, nails, etc.  Once cooked, paint with gold acrylic paint and finish with glitter.  Once dry, put them in your paper bag treasure chest for safe keeping!Treasure

2. Pirate pastel pictures – Once we have done lots of pirate crafts and built our pirate language and vocabulary, we transfer this knowledge to drawing pirates.  Before we go to paper, we do guided drawing activities on white boards.  I give my students big paper (12″ X 18″) to draw on and we use oil pastels to colour them (Kindergarten students have great success with pastels and love the ease of adding bright colours to their art work).

Pirate pastel pictures

1. Pirate ship pencil drawings – After you have looked at pictures of pirate ships in books (or online) with your students, brainstorm all the things that a pirate ship needs.  Give them a big piece of paper (about 16″ x 24″) and have them draw a ship with as many details as possible (we will also do guided drawing before we go to paper).  It is amazing what they can do when they have a big piece of paper to draw on.

Pirate ship 3

Pirate Ship

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Quick Tip – Tracing letters and shapes made easy

Looking for a simple way to practice drawing basic shapes or printing letters?  Try writing it in highlighter for your child to trace.  They can see what they need to write or draw and you can see their pencil lines when they are done.

Tracing highlighter

Here’s one more highlighter tip…..use a highlighter to let students know that they have a simple correction to do.  If they reverse a letter or number or forget a capital somewhere, simply print over top of the error with highlighter.  When they go back to it, it is easy for them to see their simple mistake, erase and correct it.

Teaching kinders a proper pencil grasp in five simple steps

At the beginning of every kindergarten year, I have at least one child who fists their pencil.  Here is my favourite way, in 5 simple steps, to teach most children how to hold their pencil with a proper tripod grasp.

1.  Make an elastic pencil holder (as you can see, I made this one out of a black and a blue hair elastic, a big star bead and a small zip tie).

2.  Have the child slide their dominant hand through the black elastic.

3.  Have the child hold the bead with their middle, ring and pinky fingers.  This gives these fingers something to do and gets them out of the way.

4.  The thumb and pointer finger become “pinchers” to hold the pencil.  I find using a Start Right pencil grip, makes “pinching” easier at first and stops the thumb and pointer from wrapping too far around the pencil.

5.  For most pencil fisters (or students who use too many fingers to stabilize their pencil), the pencil will often lean forward when they try using only their thumb and pointer to hold it.  To fix this, simply thread the un-sharpened end of the pencil through the small loop you created in the black elastic.  The pencil will be tilted back and held in the web space between the thumb and pointer.

Do you have a different tried, tested and true way of teaching your students proper pencil grasp?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Using “guided drawing” to develop pre-printing and printing skills

One of the things I love to do with my students to help improve their fine motor skills is “guided drawing”.  During a guided drawing mini-lesson, I show my students how to put basic shapes together to draw a picture.  Basic shape, in order of easiest to hardest, that children need to be able to draw before they are ready to print all their letters are:

OT Shapes

What better way to practice these shapes, building the skills needed for printing, than learning how to put them together to draw pictures?  After drawing a basic picture, we then extend it by discussing and adding details to make our picture even more interesting.  At the beginning of the year we spend time learning to draw different people, all with very similar starting points (head, trunk, arms, hands legs, feet, eyes and mouth).  This is how we can turn our basic person into a pirate:

Here are some tips to make your guided drawing lesson successful:

  • Use individual whiteboards with students.  Many who find drawing challenging are more willing to try if mistakes can be easily erased.
  • Before you begin, decide whether your whiteboard is “standing” or “sleeping” and make sure students hold theirs the same way.  This will make it easier for them to copy your drawing and will also help them learn how to effectively use their page.
  • Remember, it is a mini-lesson!  Keep it short; 5 minutes is more than enough time to draw a pirate.
  • Develop a routing from day 1 for handing out and collecting student whiteboards.  We have a bin for whiteboards and another with mittens stuffed with dry-erase markers.  When students are called, they come get a whiteboard and a mitten.
  • Draw pictures, one element at a time, giving students the opportunity to copy after each step.
  • Adding details provides an authentic opportunity to develop language and learn new vocabulary, esspecially in a second language classroom.  In the pirate example given, vocabulary such as patch, peg-leg, map, treasure, scruff, shovel, palm tree, etc. are just some examples of the rich vocabulary that would have been discussed during this mini-lesson.
  • Revisit pictures that you have already practiced on a different day.  This gives students some familiarity and allows them to better predict what shape may be drawn next.  However, the next time you draw a pirate, for example, you could mix it up by adding a cutlass, telescope, pirate ship or hat, just to name a few new possibilities.
  • At the end of a guided drawing lesson, I will sometimes practice printing a letter or number, just a few times.  If you decide to do this, start with the simplest letters to draw (ex. L and T) rather than going in alphabetical order.  See Handwriting Without Tears for more information on my favourite way to teach printing.

Here is an example to show how some kindergarten students’ drawings turned out during a guided drawing lesson.  This time we were drawing giraffes.

I hope you enjoy trying this with your students!  If you do and are interested in more, check out some of my other guided drawing resources here:

Halloween English Halloween FrenchFairy Tales EnglishFairy Tales FR