Bad Pirate, by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Dean Griffiths (Pajama Press, 2015)

bad pirate What the book’s about

“Captain Barnacle Garrick was bad natured and horrible, which most pirates would say was good—very good.” But his daughter, Augusta, was not. In Bad Pirate, Barnacle tries to teach    Augusta to be saucy, bold, and selfish, but she doesn’t seem to have the knack. Alas, she is kind-hearted and helpful, much to Barnacle’s dismay. When a storm threatens the ship, Augusta      defies her father and takes bold, selfless action to save the crew, finally winning his admiration and understanding.

 Three Activities for ages 5-8, by Jessica Young

Activity 1: My Pirate Ship


  • Drawing paper or mural paper
  • Pencils and colored pencils, markers, or crayons


After reading the book, kids draw their own pirate ships. They can refer back to the book for details. Prompt them to include features like:

  • Masts
  • Sails
  • Rigging
  • Flag
  • Portholes
  • Cabin
  • Railings
  • Crow’s nest

Discuss what each of these features was used to achieve in the age of large sailing ships. (For more information to lead that discussion, see this child-oriented Pirate Dictionary).

Extension for older children

Kids can research different types of ships before designing their own pirate craft:

  • Galleon
  • Frigate
  • Caravel
  • Schooner

For more information on sailing ships of long ago, see this Complete List of Sailing Vessels.

Activity 2: What Makes a Good Pirate Captain?


  • White board and dry erase marker, or paper and pencils


Kids brainstorm characteristics of a good pirate captain, based on what they observed in Bad Pirate. Explain that pirate captains were usually elected by their crews. Some characteristics might include:

  • Boldness
  • Decisiveness
  • Skill at sea
  • Confidence
  • Strength
  • Toughness

List the characteristics the group names. Which attributes are most important to different members of the group discussing the book? Which are important to being a good pirate?


Kids can discuss the above while practicing talking like a pirate, using words and phrases from the end pages of the book. Inexpensive pirate props like  bandannas can be found online for extra fun, and International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day (September 19) is a great occasion to read the book and practice speaking pirate!

Activity 3: Design a Figurehead


  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Colored pencils or markers


Explain that figureheads are symbolic sculptural decorations that are mounted on the prows of ships and thought to bring good fortune. Discuss how figureheads have served different purposes throughout history, including decoration, symbolism (inspiring crew and frightening enemies), and identification. Show examples of figureheads, and ask kids to think about what animals, mythological creatures/gods/goddesses, or heroes they would pick for inspirational figureheads on their own ships.

After the discussion, kids can draw profile views of their figureheads in pencil and colored pencils. Depending on the group, they can then write sentences about or discuss aloud why they chose their figureheads, including the names of their ships. Display kids’ pieces in a group exhibition.

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