Arr, matey! Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up soon—on September 20, to be exact—and you know what that means. It’s time to break out the feathered hats, red bandanas, plastic spyglasses and raise the black flag! Talk Like a Pirate Day is always a popular one among my students, and it’s one of my favorite national holidays too. Not only is it an excellent excuse to dress up as pirates together and make silly seafaring jokes, it’s also the perfect time to make writing practice extra fun by taking a piratical tack. Set sail for new horizons with these fun pirate writing prompts that are sure to delight and excite your 3rd grade buccaneers.
Prompt #1: “Pretend you are a fearsome pirate captain. Write a journal entry about a particularly exciting day on board your ship using as many vocabulary words as you can.”
No Talk Like a Pirate Day would be complete without a vocabulary lesson. After all, if your 3rd grade students want to sound like proper pirates, they have to know how to correctly use words like “landlubber” and “marooned.” Provide your students with a themed list of vocabulary words, mixing a few pirate terms with more practical words like “hurricane” and “tsunami” or “port” and “starboard.” Then ask them to write like a pirate by creating a fictional ship’s log entry using as many words on the list as they can. Be sure to ask for volunteers to share their entries afterward—using their best pirate voices, of course!
Prompt #2: “If you were a pirate, what kind of pet would you have? Why?”
Every kid knows that pirates had talking parrots and monkeys as pets—even if the history books don’t seem to mention them. This writing prompt asks your young pirates to write about a pet they would like to have with them while out at sea, as well as why they would choose that pet. Parrots and monkeys are acceptable, of course, but encourage your students to think outside the box and consider whether they wouldn’t like something a little more unique—perhaps a talking ship’s cat, or even their very own pet giant squid!
Prompt #3: “You’ve been marooned! Luckily, you managed to sneak something useful onto the island with you. What is it, and how will you use it?”
This pirate writing prompt puts a creative spin on the old question of “What would you take with you to a desert island?” by asking your students to imagine what piratical tool of the trade might come in handy when stranded in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps they’ll want their cutlasses for defending themselves from wild beasts and carving up coconuts, or perhaps their pet monkey can help them forage for food and raft-building supplies. It’s a fun lesson in critical thinking, and it’s always a treat to see what unique answers your students will come up with.
Prompt #4: “Make up your own sea shanty about life as a pirate.”
Who says pirates can’t wax poetic? Start by sharing some kid-friendly pirate and sailing songs to get your kids in the mood. (Hint: while most real sea shanties contain some very adult lyrics, made-up pirate songs from kid’s movies like “A Pirate’s Life for Me” and the Muppet Treasure Island soundtrack are always a safe bet, and fun to sing along to!) Then, ask them to make up their own rhyming lyrics describing life at sea. It’s a fantastic way to practice writing poetry—not just because it’s fun, but because imagining music to go along with their words can be helpful in teaching students about rhythms in writing.
Talk (and Write!) Like a Pirate
However fearsome and grisly real pirates might have been, Talk Like a Pirate Day is all about celebrating the positive aspects of piracy—self-confidence, resourcefulness and, most of all, freedom of expression. Celebrating it with your 3rd grade students by not just talking but writing like pirates gives them a fun outlet through which to explore their more adventurous sides while practicing important literacy skills. And, by publishing their writing, you can help show your students—and the rest of the world—just how brave and resourceful your clever little swashbucklers can be.