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Pirates Ahoy

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2
  • Subjects: English, History
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30
  • Venue: Merseyside Maritime Museum


 Pirates Ahoy is a fun interactive presentation exploring the golden age of piracy in the late 17th century. The session presents a unique learning opportunity for groups and is led by an experienced member of the education team in costume. It begins with a hearty welcome and an invitation to dress up as a pirate!

Further details

education officer dressed as a pirate, showing a treasure chest to school children

© Paula Parker

During the session pupils  will learn that piracy is an ancient and mostly unromantic occupation. The session uses a model sailing ship and other replica objects to illustrate the various jobs and hazards of being a pirate. Pupils learn about the different types of pirates, buccaneers, privateers and female pirates.

The session also explains the different parts of the ship including the sails and rigging. Pupils learn about the roles on board the ship including that of the captain. Everyday life on board the ship is explored including where the pirates slept, what they ate, the creatures they shared their meals with and where they went to the toilet.

The children take part in different activities throughout the session including singing sea shanties, scrubbing the decks and pulling up the anchor. The session concludes with a pirates quiz and an opportunity to search for treasure. 

Curriculum links  

Key Stage 1 – History

  • Pupils should be taught about events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally. 

Key Stage 2 – History

  • A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066.

Key Stage 1 - English

  • Listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers.
  • Ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledgeparticipate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Know the key general facts about life on board ships for those engaged in piracy.
  • Understand life for most was perhaps not as romantic or exciting as is often represented.
  • Gain knowledge and understanding that historical events have multiple perspectives.
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the characteristic features of periods and societies of the past.


Pupils will:

  • Develop observation skills by handling replica objects representative of 17 century life at sea.
  • Improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.
  • Learn to give reasoned answers backed up by evidence.
  • Develop team skills.
  • Improve their confidence by individual participation in dramatic sections of the presentation.


Pupils will be introduced to:

  • The concept of piracy as an ancient activity and though evolved still survives today.
  • The role of a national museum like the Merseyside Maritime Museum.


Pupils will:

  • Enjoy a focused visit to the museum.
  • Be confident in interpreting information from different sources.
  • See the Merseyside Maritime Museum as an enjoyable and stimulating place to visit.
  • Be invited to empathise with the hardships and risks pirates ran on long journeys.