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Lesson plan: Pirates!

A KS1, Year 2 English lesson plan written by Sue Nicholls

Song Bank link


Words and music by Lin Marsh 

Subject links

  • Primary Framework for Literacy: Y2 Narrative Unit 1 - Stories with familiar settings

  • Music QCA Unit 15: Ongoing Skills


45 mins – 1 hour

Learning Objectives

  • Children will develop descriptive vocabulary.

  • Children will create a story through drama and movement.

  • Children will develop an understanding of character through role-play.

  • Children will explore one character’s point of view and different courses of action both orally and in writing.


  • Pirates! - all audio tracks

  • A large space

  • A ‘word wall’

  • Writing materials

  • Whiteboard or flipchart


  • Share the Learning objectives with the children at the start of the session.

  • Talk with the children about pirates. Find out which stories or films they have read and seen. Encourage them to use vivid words and phrases when describing characters, clothing and ships.

  • Have a ‘pirate’ word wall for collecting and displaying exciting vocabulary. You could make it in the form of a treasure chest, endorsing the notion that words are precious!

  • Listen to the song Pirates! and encourage the children to move on the pulse, with their bottles of rum held aloft!

  • Recall some of the objects mentioned in the song, eg. ‘eye-patch’, ‘cutlass’, ‘bridge’, ‘skull and crossbones’, ‘jewels’ and ‘crew’ and invite definitions or explanations from the class.

  • How many jewel names can they remember?

  • Explain why sailors used hammocks to sleep in.

Main activity

  • Use a large space for the drama session.

  • Ask the children to move like a ship, first swaying gently from side to side in a calm sea… tossed by the waves in a stormy ocean! How will the movements change?

  • Now ask the children to imagine that they are the captain of a pirate ship the ‘Salty Breeze’: Put on your eye-patch; fit your cutlass into your belt and put on your captain’s hat. How will you move: proudly, slowly? How will your footsteps sound? What orders will you give your men? Look through your telescope and slowly scan the ocean.

  • Share the children’s ideas of what they ‘saw’ in the distance.

  • Ask children to sit cross-legged opposite a partner. They use their arms to mime rowing their small boat to a desert island in search of buried treasure.

  • Guide their actions with these words (or adapt them to suit you!): Pull strongly together; work as a team. When you reach the shore, drag the boat on to the sand and walk very stealthily around the island; keep looking behind you! … At last you find something buried in the sand, so dig carefully… It’s a chest! It’s so heavy! Lift it between you, open it up and let all the jewels trickle through your fingers… sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, pearls… Now turn back to the ‘Salty Breeze’ as fast as you can. It’s night time and every pirate lies (on the floor) in their hammock fast asleep. The waves rock your hammock from side to side as you fall asleep dreaming of treasure!

Independent activity

  • Revisit the song to connect the drama to a storyline. Listen to the verses but join in with the chorus.

  • Ask the children to work in pairs, recalling and building up the sequence of events orally, eg.:

    The captain sees something through his telescope.
    The crew is sent to find treasure.
    They row in small boats to the island.
    The pirates find the chest of jewels.
    They bring it back to the ship.

  • Work as a group to discuss what else could have happened to the pirates once they had left the ship. Write their ideas on a whiteboard or flipchart, eg. The pirates…

    …missed the island and rowed away, getting lost.
    …did not found any treasure.
    …stayed on the island for ever.
    …were scared off when other pirates appeared to seize the treasure.

  • The children choose to be either the captain or a pirate and write the story from that character’s viewpoint describing their actions.



  • Organise children in pairs of mixed ability.

  • Use additional adults to work with children who need support in recording their ideas in written form.


  • Sing this additional pirate song to the familiar tune of ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor’. Encourage the children to find new rhymes for ‘bold’ and rewrite the third line to create extra verses. Sing robustly, with a swagger:

    We are pirates brave and bold,
    Lots of treasure in the hold,
    Bars of silver, bars of gold,
    Stolen by us pirates!
    We are pirates brave and bold,
    Lots of treasure in the hold,
    Jingly coins new and old,
    Stolen by us pirates!


  • Showcase the children’s written work by inviting them to read their work to the others and add any unusual words to the pirate word wall.

  • Finally sing the song again and perhaps tackle a verse. Encourage actions and a robust singing style.

Differentiated success criteria

All children will:

  • Relate a story using cue cards and talk about main characters, eg. pirates, captain (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Respond to characters in role and in small groups act out familiar stories (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Be able to develop some ideas in short sections. The writer uses simple statements to convey ideas and attempts a range of familiar forms eg. letters, messages or stories (Writing).

Some children will:

  • Be able to retell a story, describing character and setting, and present it to an audience (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Take part in a range of drama activities and use simple drama conventions (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Use features of their chosen genre consistently. Writing is lively and holds the reader’s interest (Writing).

A few children will:

  • Be able to speak in different tones and voices/characters (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Comment thoughtfully on the drama and suggest ways of improving it, in and out of role (Speaking and Listening - Drama).

  • Write with a consistent awareness of the needs of the reader. Writing is organised, imaginative and clear and events are clearly related (Writing).

Downloadable Resources

Comments about Lesson plan: Pirates!

Mrs Nineham Report this comment

Posted 26th Oct 2011 12:20

This looks really good. Thanks for sharing it with others and I know the children will have a lot of fun.

Mrs McCann Report this comment

Posted 20th Sep 2011 09:42

Thank you very much, I have been looking for ideas for dance and music, I will use this.

Mrs Worth Report this comment

Posted 21st Aug 2011 05:31

thank you-its really hard to find child-friendly sea-shanties so 2 really good songs here.

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