My preschooler has loved pirates ever since we took him on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World when he was two! We originally got a fast pass for the Winnie the Pooh ride, but I guess it was destiny that we went on Pirates instead because Pooh broke down! After his Disney World adventure on the high seas, we played pirate ship countless times and he ended up choosing a pirate themed birthday party and receiving a telescope and treasure chest with coins as gifts! And of course on the flip side I love mermaids- I mean how can you not with a name like Arielle?! Ever since “The Little Mermaid” came out when I was 8, I’ve been hooked! With all this pirate and mermaid love, it was a no brainer for a learning theme! Don’t forget to sail on over to my toddler post “Treasure Chests and Mermaid Tails” for lots of fun art and sensory play ideas like a shape pirate ship, a treasure foam sensory play activity and decorating mermaid tails!! Tip: My littles are more into pirates so my plans lean a bit more in that direction- if your little is more into mermaids just present all of the treasure activities as sunken mermaid treasure instead of pirate treasure!
-“-ook” family: I made a hook then wrote -ook on it. I showed my little how you can add a letter to the beginning to make new rhyming words. We made hook then I had him think of other -ook family words and make them by listening for the first sound in the word and finding the letter that made that sound.
-Treasure chest letter match: I drew a treasure chest and traced a nickel to make coins in it then wrote the capital letters scrambled up in the circles. Then I put the lowercase letters on some gold dot stickers we had and had my little match upper to lower case. (yellow dot stickers work too!)
-“The Little Mermaid” story comparison: We read the original story “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen as well as the Disney version, then I had my little compare the two stories by telling me how they were alike and different. I wrote his answers down on a Venn Diagram I drew on our chalkboard. Note: The actual original “The Little Mermaid” is pretty long and my little was a being wiggle butt by the end of it. You can split the story into two days/sessions or read the version below which is edited for younger children but basically tells the same version of the story.
-Pirate and mermaid book list:
-Treasure hunt and coin counting: I hid our gold coins from St. Patrick’s Day around the house then had my little find them. When he got them all, I had him count how many we have. Chocolate coins work great too if you don’t have any plastic ones on hand.
-Treasure patterns: I drew 2 necklaces (ie. ovals) on one side of a sheet of cardstock, and 2 more on the other side. We reviewed the patterns we’ve done before- repeating patterns in which something is repeated over and over and growing patterns in which part of the pattern gets larger. Then I used do-a-dot markers to start patterns on each of the ovals which my little then completed. You can do simple repeating patterns (ie. red, blue, red, blue) if you’ve never done patterns before or more complex ones (ie. yellow, pink, yellow orange, yellow, pink, yellow, orange). For the last necklace I had my little make up his own pattern.
-Mermaid connect the dot page: I printed this Ariel connect the dots page then had my little connect them while counting. Then we colored the picture together.
-Ocean habitat activity/are mermaids real?: I reviewed what an ecosystem is with my little and we brainstormed animals and plants that live in the ocean ecosystem. We discussed how the animals and plants in an ocean ecosystem are nonfiction…then I asked him if mermaids are fiction or nonfiction. He said they were real so we delved into a few videos of “real” mermaids to help us make that decision. 5 Real Mermaids Caught on Camera is a great one for kids- the mermaids are blurry and far away, much like the original Bigfoot video from back in the day. It should prompt some good discussion about what is in the video and if it’s a real mermaid or something else. Mermaid Melissa is also enchanting- she’s a human who has a legit looking silicone mermaid tail and does videos on YouTube of her swimming around various ocean scenes. As a finish up to our discussion I had my little make an ocean ecosystem using these ocean creature stickers I found on Amazon.
-Waterproof materials experiment: I asked my little which materials he thought were waterproof and why- paper, fabric or plastic. Then we placed some “gold doubloons” I had made from construction paper on our outdoor table, covered them with each type of material and I had my little spray them 10 times with a squirt bottle set to “mist”. We let them sit for a minute (while we counted to 60) then checked to see if any of the doubloons were wet. I got this idea from Science Sparks.
-Force and motion in different types of matter: First, I talked with my little about his answer to the question “What will happen to a nerf dart if we shoot it through the air versus shooting it through the water?” He thought that it would go further through the air because you can move your arms more easily through the air than water. We discussed how this is because of the density of gas where the particles are spread out from each other versus the density of liquids where the particles are closer together, making it “thicker” feeling or more dense. Then we did an experiment to see if we were right! We shot a nerf gun three times from the same spot in our house then measured how far it went. Then we shot the same nerf gun under the water in our pool 3 times (honestly it didn’t move through the water hardly at all, so if you don’t have a pool you could use a large Tupperware storage bin filled with water, your kitchen sink or a bath tub.) We recorded our measurements on a graph.
-Make a hook: You can make a simple pirate hook hand by cutting a hole in the bottom of a red solo cup, squishing a piece of tin foil into a tube shape, forming it into a hook and putting the straight end through the hole.
-Paint a pirate flag: I had my little paint his own pirate flag on black paper with white paint.
-Pirate puzzle: I’m not sure if a puzzle is considered art, but we got a pirate puzzle from Nana for Christmas and put it together as a team! The Dollar Tree has some great kids puzzles- I’m not sure if they’ve got pirates, but I bet you could find mermaids!
- solo cup
- tin foil
- gold coins (plastic or cut from sparkly gold paper)
- gold dot stickers (yellow works too!)
- Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” book
- Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” book
- do-a-dot markers
- small shells
- sea creature stickers
- mermaid stickers
- nerf gun
- plastic bag
- piece of fabric (old clothing will do)
- squirt bottle
- pirate/mermaid puzzle