Honestly, I think day two of any theme is the best day. The kids are into it because they’ve already done a day of it, so sort of have have a clue, it’s not the end of the week, so no one is over it yet. So here we are, day 2 of pirates. Enthusiasm levels are high. I’ve had a cup of coffee. I’ve had a second cup of coffee. Ready to take on the world.
Todays craft was an absolute cliché classic. We made pirate treasure maps. I spent my childhood making maps with my siblings and using them to explore the garden. One year we were really into archeology (we were weird kids) and our parents let us dig huge holes behind where the dogs kennel was. We found a ton of broken glass that we treasured. Looking back on those memories what stands out for me, aside from the alarming risk of tetanus we dabbled in, was the fact that we felt so free, and it was such an adventure. We hadn’t even left our garden, and in the current climate, that sort of thing sounded ideal for my own kids. As I’m on the other side of hill now, the other thing that stands out was how grown up we felt, because we were digging ourselves, without parents. I am now the parent. This activity offered something magical: the chance of maybe 6 minutes alone.
For the craft you will need
- pencil or pen
- crayons/markers for illustrating the map
- Matches (optional)
Before we get into the ins and outs of this whole thing: it’s important to note that this activity is sort of a 2 parter. First you have to make the paper all weathered and old. Then you can decorate your map and head off on an adventure. So if you’re looking to have an immediate quiet cup of tea, whilst your kids are outside destroying your lawn with spades, this isn’t for you. However if you’re willing to wait an hour or two for the destruction, you’re golden.
Right: the “weathering”. You’re going to need to take a bowl, pop a couple of teabags in, then fill the bowl with boiling water. Thats right folks, you’re basically making a cup of tea. Once it’s cool enough for little fingers to touch it, I just let the kids pick up one tea bag each by the little paper label and dump it all over their paper. This is quite possibly the most ideal craft for kids ever. The less precise the better. If they leave their teabag and get distracted by anything and one spot gets way wetter and darker, who cares?!
Once your paper is all wet and covered in tea its time for your coffee. For this I just did a bowl of coffee grounds and a plastic spoon for each of the kids. Because their paper was already sodden with tea, wherever they sprinkled their coffee made a big dark patch. It was messy, it smelled delicious, they loved getting it everywhere. I then carefully peeled them each off the table, and hung them outside on the deck to dry. After an hour or so I took the BBQ lighter and set fire to a couple of spots on the edges and blew them out straight away. This is a completely unnecessary OTT step to take, but if you don’t know that’s me, then you don’t know me.
Whilst the maps finished drying the boys lounged around watching Twirlywoo’s on Netflix. It’s a British Cbeebies classic, highly recommend. I was planning on sorting socks whilst they relaxed, but instead I wanted Brooklyn 99 on the Alexa in the kitchen, ignored the full dishwasher, and ate 3 string cheeses out of the fridge. I wasn’t mad about it. As soon as I was full of plastic cheese goodness we got down to the decorating of the maps. I basically let them draw whatever they wanted, so there were A LOT if X’s for treasure on Teddy’s, and some very specific geographic markers on William’s. They drew caves, and bats, and killer shark. It was lovely. Then I opened the backdoor, told them to get hunting, and got back to Brooklyn 99 and not emptying the dishwasher. Bliss.
If I had my head screwed on correctly, after the quite in-depth craft, I would have chosen something super duper easy for academic time. Like a printable worksheet, or something Google spat out at us. Maybe it was the extra protein from all those cheeses, or the 9.5 minutes I had to myself whilst the kids were hunting for treasure outside, but I went big on the activity. Today we did some science, sink or float pirate ships!
This entire project is linked below, and came from the website Twinkl. If you’ve not heard of it (its much more common in the UK than the US) I highly recommend it. Before we got started I printed off the pirate ship images and laminated them. This wasn’t that necessary, but I kew I’d want to keep them for other projects, so was worth my time. Then I taped them to either side of an egg carton. you can use any container really (that will hold up in the water). Outside I laid out individual “oceans” for the boys. We have a big water table, and originally I was going to use that and have them share it. However our dog Bertie is currently VERY into rolling around in it like a large bath, and I knew the kids would freak out if he squished their boats. Instead we used the tubs from the laundry room. This is a post for another day, but we have labelled containers with the kids names for laundry, I love an unnecessary detail.
As our “treasure” we used the kids unifix cubes. (This is what I called them growing up, I guess you can call them something else, number blocks?!) They’re perfect for this kind of activity. They’re easy to manipulate for little fingers, they are waterproof, they are relatively really to tidy up afterwards. I put the box of them in between the two different water boxes, and read the boys the first prompt. Here is where something other than an egg box would have been a good idea. They held the cubes ok, but their shape meant it was hard to maximize the space available. I know for next time.
The boys honestly had the most tremendous time with the activity. Long after we had finished the actual “experiment” and discussed the science behind their boats sinking, they were still out there on the deck, playing with their boats. Once they were all finished I simply peeled the laminated pirate ship pictures off the boxes and stored them for next time. Easy peasy. Now the weather is getting better I am definitely going to be taking advantage of more outdoor activities.
Today I’ll end with this: if anyone is ever worried that Arthur is being sidelined, whilst the other two play and learn, don’t worry. He’s here, and VERY much involved.
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