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3 Easy, Fun Pirate Games That Will Get Your Kids Moving

Ahoy, matey! It’s time to turn your yard into a high-seas playground, where young pirates rule and adventures never end.

This story was produced in partnership with Santiago of the Seas, a new show for preschoolers on Nickelodeon. Check out all the fun with Santiago and crew when it premieres Friday, October 9th at 12:30/11:30c.

It’s always smart for a parent to have a few fun games in mind that they can bust out when there’s time to kill. We’re talking about those fun DIY activities that require little prep and lots of imagination and can entertain and burn off some of a kid’s (seemingly endless supply of) energy. Since kids love magic, adventure, being a hero, and pirates, we thought it would be fun to offer some pirate-themed games. No, not the standard “arrrrrrr you ready to walk the plank?” pirates. We’re talking about altruistic pirates who do good, pirates like Santiago Montes and his friendly crew.

In the Nickelodeon show Santiago of the Seas, 8-year-old pirate captain Santiago, his cousin Tomás, and their friend Lorelai the mermaid set sail on the magical El Bravo ship to discover treasure and protect their home, Isla Encanto. Inspired by the show, these activities are smart, savvy, and great for kids. Each game is also low on setup and high on fun.

Activity #1: Claim Your Pirate Bounty

When pirates set sail to distant lands, they go in search of treasure. Santiago and crew are on a mission to protect the treasures of Isla Encanto from the hands of villains like Bonnie Bones. Along with their pirate skills, they use Spanish to steer their magical ship, El Bravo, and complete their mission.

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What You’ll Need:

  • Construction paper (30 sheets)
  • Magic markers
  • Tape (optional)

How to Play:

Step 1: Grab a marker and two sheets of construction paper. Draw a diamond on both pieces of paper. Below one, write “Diamond.” Below the other, write “Diamonte.” Set aside.

Step 2: Repeat the instructions for Step 1 for each of the words below, drawing the same representative image on two sheets of construction paper, then labeling one with the word in English and the other with the word in Spanish. Use a different color marker for each set of images.

English / Spanish

  • Friends /Amigos
  • Boat / Barco
  • Treasure / Tesoro
  • Telescope / Telescopio
  • Map / Mapa
  • Frog / Rana
  • Pirate / Pirata
  • Flag / Bandera
  • Sea / Mar
  • Sword / Espada
  • Guitar / Guitarra
  • Bracelet / Pulsera
  • Mermaid / Sirena

Step 3: Mix the sheets of paper together, then spread them around the floor or yard, drawing-side up. (Tape to the floor with a small tab if you want help holding them in place.)

Step 4: On the count of ¡Uno, Dos, Tres! send you young pirates scattering to gather their treasure. A treasure is theirs when they find both sheets with a matching image and pick them up.

Step 5: For younger kids, the game is won by whoever collects the most matching sheets. For older kids to win the game, they must say the word for the treasure item on their sheets in English, then attempt to read it in Spanish as well. (You can coax younger kids by saying both words for them while pointing to the pictures—research shows that exposure to a second language in infancy through preschool significantly improves a child’s bilingual skills.)

Activity #2: Backyard Treasure Hunt

Giving new meaning to the words “the family silver,” this backyard treasure hunt involves burying your (not-fancy) silverware for hungry pirates to find!

What You’ll Need:

  • Silverware
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Pen
  • Movable furniture

How to Play:

Step 1: Identify 10 or so large-ish objects that are either located in your backyard or that you can move there. (Think folding chair, beach towel, potted plant, picnic table, bucket, ladder, etc.) Take your large sheet of paper, sketch out the approximate dimensions of the yard, and place an X in the spots where each of these 10 objects is positioned. This is the pirate’s Treasure Map.

Step 2: Take 10 pieces of silverware and “bury” one at each of the ten locations on the map. You can cover the silverware partially with dirt, or hide it beneath the towel, or stick it amongst the flowers in the pot. Just as long as it’s concealed enough to be discovered on a treasure hunt!

Step 3: Hand over the Treasure Map to your little pirate(s). If it’s just one child, let him swashbuckle his way around the yard, seeking treasures galore! With two or more kids, you can either have them form one team of scavenging pirates, or you can create multiple identical Treasure Maps, and have them race each other to see who finds the silver first.

Activity #3: Return the Stolen Loot

Not all pirate crews are as friendly as Santiago, Tomás, and Lorelai. Some pirates steal treasure that doesn’t belong to them. Fortunately, your merry band of piratas is not far behind, and they are ready to return the treasure to its rightful owners. When they arrive on the scene, they face a serious challenge: Gather as much stolen treasure as possible without getting caught! ¡Vamos!

What You’ll Need:

  • Stiff cardboard
  • Shears
  • Tinfoil
  • Balloons
  • Tape
  • Stopwatch

How to Play It:

Step 1: Time to make a pirate sword! Cut out the shape of a sword (a long rectangle with a box on one end for a handle and pointed tip on the other) from the cardboard. Wrap the sword in tinfoil.

Step 2: Blow up 12 balloons, each to about the size of a human head. Tape the balloon ends (not the body) to various structures in your yard (this is definitely an outdoor game). These are your pieces of stolen treasure.

Step 3: Hand your first pirate his sword and tell him his mission: As fast as he can, he must run from one piece of treasure to the next, swiping at the tape holding it in place with his. Important: The pirate must be careful not to pop the balloon itself! Start your stopwatch.

Step 4: When all treasures have been recovered, the pirate must run back to the place where he started. Stop your watch and record his time. Pass the sword on to the next pirate, and repeat these steps (re-tape balloons and replace any burst ones first).

Step 5: Once all pirates have had a turn freeing the treasure, take their times, deduct two seconds for every popped balloon, and see who was the fastest: This is your winner.

Now that you’re tuckered out from your pirate activities, sit down and tune into Santiago of the Seas, premiering on Nickelodeon on Friday, October 9th at 12:30/11:30c.