Unit Study on Pirates
by Dianne McLean
If you have been following our series on unit studies, you know by now that you can take ANY topic of interest and use it as a jumping off point to incorporate reading, writing, vocabulary, math, science, and history. You can add in art, music, and many creative subjects as well. For some topics, you can even include physical education.
To read up on the logistics of what a unit study is, visit this link: http://hecoa.com/what-is-a-unit-study
Now – let's get to the topic of this post – pirates!
Not everyone approves of using pirates as a history study, but it is undeniable that many find them appealing and even exciting. There was a time when the line between pirate and explorer was fairly fine (Sir Francis Drake springs to mind), and there certainly is a long literary tradition of exciting and romantic piracy. If you pick and choose, you can enjoy a pirate unit without trivializing the continuing problem of piracy or encouraging crime or cruelty.
The concept of pirates is not unfamiliar to the United States. As a matter of fact, pirates played a big part of the outcome of war of 1812, and turned the Louisiana Purchase to the favor of the U.S.
Benjamin Franklin hired pirates to sink the British ships in the Gulf of Mexico – and Andrew Jackson pardoned many of them for their contributions.
Probably the most notable pirate in our day is one of fictional nature – Captain Jack Sparrow. This character's popularity grew from the series of full length movies – the Pirates of the Caribbean, produced by Disney. While it's not an appropriate movie for younger children, high schoolers who are intrigued with Captain Sparrow, Will Turner and the beautiful Elizabeth might also enjoy a unit study that goes deeper into factual history about pirates.
You could spend hours and hours Googling pirates, which is what we did, to come up with a fabulous unit study. Or, if you are a member of HECOA, you can download our file below which presents a very in-depth study on pirates in the U.S. –