Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Explorers and Pirates (1420-1779) Part VII: Pirates

Make a Jolly Roger
Pirate captains flew  a flag designed to identify a ship's crew as pirates called a Jolly Roger. Generally they were black and had some variation of the classic white skull and crossbones emblem. A Jolly Roger was often raised only once the ship's target was within firing range. We shall see some of this on our second phase of Privateers and Spanish Galleons. We made our Jolly Rogers freehand, but if you would like to use a template, Disney has a template of  the pirate Jack Sparrow flew.

To make your own Jolly Roger, you'll need:

Straight pins
Sticky-back felt (white and red)
A sheet of black felt

Decide on your design. Sketch it out on plain paper (or if you want you can print out the template) and cut out the pieces. Pin the pieces of your design onto the white felt or red felt. Cut out the felt pieces. Don't worry if you stray a bit from the lines. Arrange the cutouts as you wish on the black felt. Working with one piece at a time, peel the backing from the cutouts and stick them in place. When all the pieces are well adhered, you can pin the Jolly Roger on the wall pennant-style, or you can create a handheld flag by hot-gluing the upper portion of a wooden dowel to the side of the felt and then covering the dowel with an additional strip of black felt. Quentin decided to use masking tape to adhere his to the dowel.

Redbeard or Barbarossa

Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary Pirates were pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, a term derived from the name of its Berber inhabitants. The main purpose of their attacks was to capture Christian slaves for the Islamic market in North Africa and the Middle East. The Conquest of Granada by Spain in 1492 drove many Moors out. They retaliated by piratical attacks on the Spanish coast. Barbarossa or Redbeard was the most famous pirate from this time.

Sir Francis Drake

Privateer- A privateer was a pirate authorized by a country's government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping. Privateers were only entitled by their state to attack and rob enemy vessels during wartime.
Jim Hawkins

During the 1550's-1600, Privateers such as Sir Francis Drake and Jim Hawkins came to challenge the Spanish claim to the New World and its riches, known as the Spanish main. Their success led to to others to act as pirates rather than privateers, not restricting their attacks to Spanish ships. This is the time period that our Privateers and Spanish Galleons game is set.

 Letter of Marque -a government licence authorizing a private vessel to attack and capture enemy vessels, and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. Cruising for prizes with a Letter of Marque was considered an honorable calling combining patriotism and profit, in contrast to unlicensed piracy which was universally disrespected.
Henry Morgan

King James I's withdrawal of all letters of marque in 1603 led to the replacement of privateers by bands of lawless buccaneers such as Sir Henry Morgan. The name buccaneer is derived from the French "boucanier", which roughly translates as "someone who smokes meat.". These pirates picked up the technique of smoking meat from the Caribbean Arawak who used this word to describe a sort of grill on which the meat was smoked. Port Royal became the center of legalized piracy encouraged by the governors of Jamaica who, acting on their own behalf, hoped to discourage any Spanish attempts to recapture the island.

Captain Kidd

The Classic era of the pirates began in the 1690's starting with Captain Kidd, and continued until about 1750 with pirates such as Blackbeard

and the women pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
Mary Read and Anne Bonny

There were also a few privateers during the American Revolution (1175-83) when they boosted the small American Navy and attacked merchant ships of the English, crippling trade. John Paul Jones is one of the most famous of this type of privateer.


  1. Phyllis, Have you looked for any instructional videos on youtube for the drop spindle, etc? That might help.

  2. I got to watch a fascinating documentary on Blackbeard, it was a lot of fun to watch.

    And then you could pull in the modern pirates......

  3. Ticia's comment gave me a little chuckle. Pirates just never seem to have disappeared.


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