A Pirate's Life: A Middle School Pirate Unit Study

This is not the usual pirate unit study. Savvy? This is for upper elementary to middle school age. It all started with watching the TV series Black Sails with my husband (not for kids). It's a prequel to Treasure Island and includes fictional characters like Long John Silver and Flint, but included many famous pirates as well. While it didn't get the history quite right, there was an awful lot of truth included. Surprisingly, I found the most interesting part to be the politics of pirates. The reasons why they became pirates and the time period, which was well before the Declaration of Independence. They were the original revolutionaries that thumbed their nose at the King for how he treated them. They made life so uncomfortable for the King and Colonists, the King offered a pardon to any pirate (except Vane) who was willing to change their pirating ways. Some were only after gold. Some were terrible, horrible people. Some lived by a strict code and took over ships without a single death. They wanted a free life and gathered a force of freed and escaped slaves, willing and unwilling crewmen from captured ships, and attempted to create their own space outside of anyone's rule but their own. 

For me
The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought ThemDown - I got the audiobook and I'm about halfway through now. I'd recommend it on audio even though it's a lot of facts, read aloud it's more like a narrative. There are a couple of parts that describe abuses children and sailors endured on British Naval and merchant ships that would make it not suitable for sensitive readers. The descriptions are brief and could be skipped over if you are prepared. I'd recommend it for non-sensitive high schoolers or adults who want a thorough history lesson on pirates. 


Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar of a Story. The kids really like this and so far it looks like it covers all of the bases of creative writing. I just wish I could read and speak pirate a little more fluently. 
BraveWriter Arrows & Boomerang for some books. 

Meteorology: ScienceFusion: Module F: Earth's Water and Atmosphere, Great Courses: The Science of Extreme Weather. I'm not sure if they are ready for Great Courses, so I thought I'd start with a fun one.
Nautical Science: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time - There is a movie version of this with Jeremy Irons.
OceanographyOceanography: Exploring Earth's Final Wilderness - If Extreme Weather is successful, I already own this.
Space & Astronomy: documentaries
Marine Biology: The Blue Planet documentaries, Trips to the local tidepool and aquariums. Feed the sea turtles and sharks at a local exhibit and take a tour. 


World Atlas of Pirates: Treasures and Treachery on the Seven Seas - We are outlining this. Everything kids need to know about the history of pirates and biographies on all of the well-known pirates. The illustrations are beautiful and in color, pulled from Pyle and other sources. It is in a textbook format, but is nothing like a dry textbook. The kids have been learning how to read the multiple columns and information boxes separately.
Story of the World Vol. 3 Our history is never on the regular 4 year track 
Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship - nonfiction adventure
When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay: Seafaring Words in Everyday Speech

My philosophy on reading lists is to have plenty of options. I know we won't get to all of them and I'm fine with that. I want to be able to mix it up a bit and go with what we're covering in history and science, too.

Carry On Mr. Bowditch - BW Arrow and LitsWits - this is a special book and I wouldn't have minded spending more time on it. 
Johnny Tremain - BW Arrow
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - LitWits
The Sign of the Beaver
Captains Courageous
Treasure Island - BW Boomerang or Memoria Press
Robinson Crusoe - BW Boomerang
The Princess Bride
Swallows and Amazons - LitWits
Island of the Blue Dolphins - LitWits
Magic Marks the Spot (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates Book 1)
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates
Journey to the Center of the Earth - BW Arrow
A Wrinkle in Time - BW Arrow
The Phantom Tollbooth - It's become a tradition to starting the school year.

Documentaries and Movies
Smithsonian Channel 
   Secrets: Blackbeard's Ship - describes parts of the ship and Blackbeard's fate

Ancient Discoveries - History Channel Vault
  -Season 3 Episode 4: Super Ships
  -Season 4 Episode 2: Ancient Super Navies - Under Battles of the Deep
  -Season 4 Episode 5: Ancient Chinese Super Navies
  -Season 5 Episode 2: Impossible Naval Engineering
  -Season 6 Episode 11: Mega Ocean Conquest

Battles of the Deep - History Channel Vault
  -Episode 10: Impossible Naval Engineering
  -Episode 11: Ancient Super Navies
  -Episode 14: Battle History of the Navy: Born into War
  -Episode 18: The Royal Navy - The King's Ships
  -Episode 28: The Royal Navy: England's Wooden Walls

The Blue Planet
The Planets

Horatio Hornblower
Master and Commander
Disney's Blackbeard's Ghost
The Princess Bride
Swallows and Amazons
Treasure Island
Swiss Family Robinson
In Search of the Castaways

Both: Knot-tying, archery, axe-throwing, projects from Survival Kid, field trip to see Festival of Sails featuring tall ships. Attend Pirates of Penzance musical. Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day in September. Attend Pirate Fest in April. 

Alternative Resources: 
These almost made the list and could easily replace or add to the unit study.
  • Literature
    • LitWits- Similar to Bravewriter Arrows and Boomerangs. They are kits that set a scene for a book, have some worksheets and teach concepts. They offer a free preview for Little House in the Big Woods.  I used some ideas from their Pinterest page for The Phantom Tollbooth, which is one of my favorite books.  I might still use some kits for books that don't have Bravewriter Arrows or Boomerangs. I decided it would be too much to try to combine them both. 

Synonym Buns and Rigmaroles with Just Peachy tea. Square Meal for lunch and Just Desserts later. 

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I have been homeschooling since 2009, but have been reading about it since 2003. Homeschooling is rapidly growing. Whether you are a veteran or new to homeschooling, I hope to filter some of the vast amounts of information for you


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