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Get Ready for an Exciting Pirates Theme in the STEM Lab

If you are transforming your classroom with a Pirate theme- I have some time-savers for you!

Can we talk about how much kids love pirates and treasure chests and birds that talk? A few years ago I had a cockatiel in the STEM Lab and we tried so hard to get the silly thing to say anything. But, sadly, he only squawked. Loudly.  All. The. Time.  

Anyway, I have discovered any task that involves boats, treasure, pirates, or birds is one that kids will stay engaged with and that is enough reason for me to invent more challenges and tasks for them!  

My time-savers are resources already made for you that students love! Take a look!

Transform your classroom for a Pirate theme! These resources are perfect- including reading passages, an elementary breakout, a STEM Challenge, and nonfiction task cards!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!

Let’s see what is in this Pirate Post:

  • Pirate Escape Room
  • Treasure Box Challenge
  • Pirates Print and Read
  • Pirates Task Cards
  • Book Suggestions for your Pirate Adventure

The Pirate Escape Room

This one is amazing! We have tried more than 15 Escape Rooms and loved them all – but there is just something about that treasure map…

One of the tasks students must complete has a treasure map incorrectly labeled and they have to find the locations and decide what they should be.

Students were very excited when they saw that map, but I learned something quickly.   They were not at all familiar with pirate vocabulary. So I invented a Pirate Dictionary that they could refer to when they were not sure what a “crow’s nest” or a “Jolly Roger” might be.

Ahoy, Matey! Are you ready for a grand pirate adventure? This Pirate Escape Room is a perfect culminating activity for your study of pirates. This unlock-the-box event will keep students busy with three academic skills leading to clues. They will have such fun and practice skills at the same time!

Students also enjoyed the clipart images on all the posters that contain the clues they are looking for. They loved seeing the sharks swimming in the water and the ships with black flags.   This Escape Room has three tasks that all lead to clues which lead to lock code numbers. The lock code number opens a box that gives teams the next task. My students love, love, love opening those locked boxes.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to try one of my Escape Rooms. I include detailed directions for what you need and alternatives for everything. If you want to try one of these events, you do not have to buy boxes and locks. You can use a school box, a cardboard box, or a basket. And I provide a “paper lock” system that students can use instead of opening a real lock.

Treasure Box Challenge

This STEM Challenge is included with the Escape Room and can be purchased separately.

I created a treasure box myself before I presented it to students and I thought it was just challenging enough that the older students would be intrigued. Boy, was I right about that!

Here is what we discovered right away. Notice the blue treasure chest in the photo.

In this STEM Challenge, students will be building a treasure box to hold any treasure of their choice. The rules of the task are daunting- as daunting as a pirate! Speaking of pirates-STEM and reading are a perfect combination. This fabulous and quick challenge is inspired by a pirate book. Read the book and engineer a treasure box!

The lid is curved and a panel has been inserted to add sides to the curve. Wow, that turned out to be really challenging. One of the rules of the task is to make the top have a curve in it.

TIP: You can alter the rules of any of my STEM tasks. For this one, you can change the rule about the curve and just have your rule requiring a box with a lid.

Before students began this challenge I read aloud a picture book about pirates. There is a page in the book with a drawing of a treasure chest. That chest just happens to have leather straps across the curved top, so, of course, we had a lot of models that looked the same.

Another requirement for this challenge is to add handles to the chest. Just look at those cute handles on the models in the above photo. So much fun! Feel free to fill your models with treasure! TIP: We used Unifix cubes…

Pirate Print and Read

Naturally, I finished our study of pirates with a reading comprehension set. I started creating these sets to accompany the Escape Rooms and also have something I could leave with a substitute on those days I absolutely must miss school.

I included a “newspaper” page with the reading set. It is labeled with alphabet letters and one of the tasks for students is to match those letters with the types of nonfiction text features that are labeled. There are four reading passages and the newspaper page with delightful student-friendly articles about pirates!

Are you ready to print and have students reading in a matter of minutes? These reading comprehension sheets with informational text are perfect in so many ways. The topic of this set is so much fun! It’s all about Pirates. The set is also perfect for a study of boats or to use with a room transformation.

Pirates Task Cards

In the Pirate Reading Passages set, there are 4 pages resembling a magazine layout about pirates. The reading selections are filled with text features and these are marked with letters.

Students have 64 task cards. Twenty-eight of the cards are about text features. Students either identify the feature or its purpose. Twenty-eight of the cards have content questions that use the vocabulary and have students match meanings to words, identify the main idea, or answer basic questions. Four cards are open-ended.

TIP: Perfect for a sub day!

Some Book Suggestions for you:

We have tried these with the challenge of building a treasure box or chest. The first one is what I read to students when we completed the Escape Room. The second book is one I used with second graders one year.

Tough Boris by Mem Fox

This is truly one of my favorite books! It’s a book of few words. As a former classroom teacher (third grade) I always used this book for reading lessons about inferring and then with writing lessons when we studied repetitive phrases. 

The story is told in the photos.

A little boy sees a pirate ship approaching and watches the pirates dig up their buried treasure on his beach. When they return to their ship the boy sneaks away, too. Later, he steals the captain’s violin and eventually plays it for the scruffy pirates. The book repeats phrases for each set of pages, like this 

“He (the captain) was massive. All pirates are massive. He was greedy. All pirates are greedy.” 

The line that gets us every time refers to the captain’s pet parrot who appears on every page.  

“But when his parrot died, he cried and cried.”

  And then the boy helps him bury his parrot in the violin case! I love this book.   The treasure box challenge is perfect with this one!

Roger the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist

This book is just hilarious. Roger is not a good pirate because he is too jolly so he is always sent below deck whenever pirate adventures are happening. During one battle Roger tries to cook and while doing so he spills flour everywhere and tries to cook his cake in a cannon.

The cannon explodes sending Roger hurtling through the air covered with flour and the band of attacking pirates is scared away by Roger’s “skeleton”. The end of the book shows the pirate flag in Roger’s ghostly flour-covered look and the pirate flag called the Jolly Roger is born!

I love reading this one to kids because the words are just delightful. I used it with third graders as part of writing lessons, but with the young engineers, we read it to get ready to build a boat or a treasure chest challenge.

I know your students will love all these pirate adventures! You will love that the resources are ready for you- timesavers! #winwin


Transform your classroom for a Pirate theme! These resources are perfect- including reading passages, an elementary breakout, a STEM Challenge, and nonfiction task cards!

STEM Materials You Need!

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