Teacher Feature: Three Year Old Classroom Explores Pirates

It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!

This week we are featuring Brooke Shoemaker. Her Pre-K three classroom was learning about The Swiss Family Robinson and decided to spend a week on Pirates. Below you will find a reflection from Brooke and images from some of her lessons.


What were your topics of exploration?

The Koalas had been exploring topics related to the Swiss Family Robinson.  Over the course of the unit we explored boats, architecture, animals, navigation and pirates.  Specifically for pirates we talked about what pirates wear, where they live, how they talk, pirate flags and pirate sidekicks – parrots.

What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?):

From the Treasure Hunt lesson I wanted the children to:

  • Reflect on the past lessons during the Swiss Family Robinson unit
  • Use critical thinking skills to solve clues as to where we were to go on the treasure hunt
  • Use pre-math skills to fill in the next symbol in a pattern (to open the lock on the treasure chest)
  • Feel accomplished after achieving the goal of solving all the clues and finding the treasure chest.
  • Enjoy dramatic play as a pirate

What was most successful about your lesson?

The most successful part of the lesson was how excited the students were about solving the clues and finding the treasure hunt.  They were very enthusiastic about wearing the pirate costumes, liked talking “in character” and worked hard to solve the clues.  I was happy that they remembered our past lessons and it was successful in being a cumulative last lesson for our unit.

What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?

If I were to do this lesson again I would shorten the treasure hunt by 1 or 2 clues.  The children were great sports and walked a great distance to solve the clues and get to the treasure chest, but it ended up taking a long time and I think the objectives of the lesson would still have been achieved with fewer clues/stops.

Here are a few images from their unit on pirates:

DSCN1122Brooke began her lesson by revisiting the themes and story line of The Swiss Family Robinson before introducing her theme for the week: pirates! The kids were so excited! Brooke spread out a collection of pirate themed books for the kids to look at and then asked the group what they knew about pirates.

DSCN1144This is the list of things the group came up with (even pirates need to go potty!).

DSCN1142Brooke then passed out pre-cut pirate hats for the children to decorate and wear during their scavenger hunt. As you can see they loved them! She then explained that the class was going on a treasure hunt around the National Mall. Brooke had written clues prior to the lesson that would guide the group to some of the places they had visited during their unit on The Swiss Family Robinson. She wanted to use this activity as a way to summarize their past topics.
DSCN1162Their first clue took them to the blue print of the National Museum of American History building. Earlier in their unit they used this image to talk about architecture and the building of the Robinson Family home on the island.

DSCN1177Their second clue led them to the third floor of the National Museum of American History to see the “Gunboat Philadelphia”  (http://bit.ly/1IZ8r51). Previously in their unit, the teachers used this boat to talk about how the Robinson family traveled to the island.

DSCN1190Their third clue guided them all the way to the Washington Monument. They visited the top during their week on architecture.

DSCN1194Brooke asked a park ranger to distribute the next clue.

DSCN1203 DSCN1208The fourth clue led them to the National Museum of Natural History Mammal Hall (http://www.mnh.si.edu/mammals/index.htm). In the book, the Island is full of animals, so the group often went to the Mammal Hall to learn all about some of the creatures that inhabited the Robinson’s home.

DSCN1216Their last clue directed them back to their playground where they found the treasure chest!

DSCN1225In order to open their treasure chest they needed to crack the pattern and fill in the next shape.

DSCN1221Inside was gold, Pirate’s Booty, and pirate headbands!

DSCN1245The next day Brooke took the class to the National Gallery of Art to see Still Life with Artichokes and a Parrot, 17th c., Italian. For her visit, she focused on the pirate’s trusty sidekick, the parrot. They read Pirate Pete by Kim Kennedy and talked about all the ways a parrot can help a pirate.

DSCN1250Brooke brought each child a paper parrot and asked them to look closely at the painting.  She asked: “What is the same or different about the one in your hand and the one in the work of art?” The kids had a lot of ideas to share.

The 3 year olds had a wonderful time exploring the book, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. Be sure to check back after the holidays for our next teacher feature!