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Pirates of the Caribbean Mini Unit Study

Summer is the perfect time to learn about the dastardly pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates have been around since the dawn of seafaring and remain a problem for law-abiding sailors even today. However, the pirate stories and legends we have all come to know and love are from the golden era of pirates - the late 16th century to early 18th century.

Chances are that most of the famous pirates you know, such as Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and Calico Jack, were active in the Caribbean (West Indies). The section of the Caribbean Sea along the coastline of the Americas used by Spanish ships was known as the Spanish Main and is were most of the pirate raids occurred - on ships carrying bounty of silver ore and other goods bound from the Caribbean to Europe. Piracy reached its pinnacle in the 17th century as the states of Europe warred with one another, the power and military might of Spain declined significantly, and islands in the Caribbean changed hands often - making them ripe havens for the buccaneers. Countries even promoted a form of legal piracy against other nations by hiring "privateers" to capture enemy merchant ships and relieve them of their goods. By the early 1700's, the Caribbean began to stabilize under increasing English influence, and the golden era of pirates was coming to an end.

In this mini-unit study, you can: read about the history of piracy and peruse biographies of famous pirates, hear about what it takes to be a pirate in "So, You Want to be a Pirate?", see a map of Blackbeard's exploits and read what happened in each place he visited along the way, learn about the pirates of the Bahamas, read the most famous book about pirates online - Treasure Island, study sailor songs and shanties popular amongst pirates, play the High Seas adventure game, go on a treasure hunt, dress like a pirate, plan a pirate party and make a pirate ship out of milk cartons.


Read about the history of piracy, pirate biographies and a wealth of details about the lives of pirates.


Think you have what it takes to have been a pirate? Read this account of what a pirate's life entails first, before you decide:

So, You Want to be a Pirate?

An article on the pirates of the Bahamas, including Blackbeard, Henry Morgan and a woman pirate - Anne Bonney.

Pirates of the Bahamas

Literature and Songs

Read the classic pirate tale, Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson in its entirety online (includes some illustrations):

Treasure Island

All sailors, even pirates, sung tunes called sea shanties while they worked to help them coordinate their movements. See the lyrics to these songs:

(warning - not all songs have appropriate lyrics for children, please check first)

Sea song and shanty lyrics


Play the High Seas Adventure game by National Geographic:

High Seas Adventure game

Go on a treasure hunt and see if you can find the pirates' bounty:

A treasure hunt


See a map and read details of Blackbeard's excursions along the coastline of the Carolinas:

Blackbeard in the Carolinas


Dress like a pirate

Plan a pirate party

Make a pirate ship


Recommended Resource

The Book of Pirates

This wonderfully illustrated book provides the opportunity to while away the summer hours reading a variety of pirate tales and adventures. It contains eleven classic tales from the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Gilbert and Sullivan, Washington Irving, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and more. Great for bedtime storytelling too, although some might be a bit scary for the younger kids.

Book (Hardcover)
Author: Michael Hague
Lists at: $21.99, Amazon Price: $15.39

Read more about the book on Amazon

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