September 20, 2019

Talk Like a Pirate Day Story Time Lesson Plan / Pirate Party Event Plan

Since one of my latest books has a young pirate for a main character, it seemed logical to plan a pirate-themed story time event on International Talk Like a Pirate Day (celebrated on September 19th each year).

Green Bean Books in Portland, Oregon was kind enough to open their doors and welcome me to their beautiful, covered, back patio for a Pirate Party. It was a marrrrvelous time!

I thought it would be fun and helpful to share my activity plan and some photos of the event for folks who intend to host a Talk Like a Pirate Day event and/or pirate-themed program anytime in the future. Here goes:

International Talk Like a Pirate Day Story Time Lesson Plan (and Pirate Party Event Plan)
by Dawn Babb Prochovnic


Pirate Name Generator (see below)
Name Tags
Picture Book: Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?
iPad or Other Device to Play Book Trailer for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?
Paper or Newsprint and Tape to Make Pirate Hats
Props for Photo Booth/Selfie Station, Optional
Costumes, Decorations, and Refreshments, as Desired

Decorations and Costumes

*Since this was a Pirate Party in addition to being a pirate-themed story time, I wore a costume and decorated the display table in the story time area:

Photo Credit, Jennifer Green, Green Bean Books

*The Hannah Anderson store happened to have a promotional offering on pirate gear around the time I was planning this event, so I purchased a children's pirate hat (that happily fit!) from them. My local party store, The Lippman Co., had a good supply of pirate-y items, as I'm sure most party stores do. I got a couple of skull and cross bone bandanas to "pirate-tize" my standard white tablecloth, some pirate flags (which I of course displayed in a roll of TP), and a package of props for a pirate-y photo booth (see below). I also displayed some of my bookmarks (designed by illustrator, Jacob Souva) and some stickers with the image of our book cover (that I purchased through Sticker Mule -- Sticker Mule is GREAT, by the way...highly recommended), and I set out individual packages of Pirates Booty purchased at Target (which was available in their Halloween section, and happened to be on sale for a great price). My Pinterest page has lots of other ideas for decorations and themed refreshments for those who want to go all out!

Welcome, Ice Breaker, and Introductions

*I put several copies of the Pirate Name Generator for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? (see below) into protective plastic covers. As participants arrived, I encouraged them to create their Pirate Name. If you typically use name tags in your programming, you could add pirate names to the name tags.

NOTE: Definitely allow participants the freedom to create a different name combination or even to make up their own pirate name, if they don't like the name generated by the Pirate Name Generator.

NOTE: If you have difficulty accessing the image file for the Pirate Name Generator, you can access a printable document here. You are welcome to re-print this resource for use in your programs, but I do request that you retain the credits, as listed.

Read Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? 

Available Everywhere Books Are Sold

*Before reading, invite  participants to join in by saying the words for sounds that appear throughout the story.

Photo Credit, Jennifer Green, Green Bean Books
*Read the story using varied voices for different characters.

NOTE: I use a fairly normal voice for the pirate character, and I alternate between a higher voice and a lower voice for the Razor Clam and Sea Lion. I use a gruff voice for the Rock Crab, and a very high-pitched voice for the Pelican. I go back to a moderately high voice for the Octopus, a low voice for the Gray Whale, and I use a gruff voice for the Deck Hands. I mention these details in case it's helpful to have a ready-to-go "voice map" in place, but definitely feel encouraged to make up your own silly voices without regard to any of these notes.

*As you can see, I really like to get into character!

Photo Credit, Jennifer Green, Green Bean Books

Ask Post-Story Discussion Questions

*For example, "Have you ever needed to use the potty, but you had to wait for the right time or place? What was the situation? How did it turn out?"

NOTE: A detailed Study Guide that includes a variety of discussion questions and curriculum-aligned activities will soon be available for this book. The guide will be available at this link:

Sing Along to the Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? Song

*The song is available on YouTube, via the book trailer:

*You can find the words to the song in the "Sign Language Sing-Along Lesson Plan."

*Since my earlier books incorporate American Sign Language, it's second nature for me to add a little ASL enrichment into most of my programs. If you want to ramp up the enrichment aspect of your Pirate-Themed Story Time, introduce a few signs to go along with the above Pirate song, as noted in the Sign Language Sign-Along Lesson Plan. If you decide to do this, you will want to introduce the signs to participants and give them an opportunity to practice the signs a few times before you play the song. You may even want to replay the song a couple of different times so participants get to practice and gain a sense of mastery of the selected signs. Three logical signs to incorporate into this song include:

Pirate (Boat + Eye Patch)
Potty/Toilet (The “T” handshape wiggles)
Where (Pointer finger looks/searches)

Note: The sign for potty/toilet (the noun) and the sign for "to use" the potty/toilet (the verb) are the same.

*I use the signs for "Where" and "Potty/Toilet" in the first part of the song, and I use the sign for "Pirate" near the end of the song. I also add the signs for "No," "Oh," and "Not," which are described in the Sign Language Sign-Along Lesson Plan.

Tell Some Pirate Jokes and/or Facilitate a Pirate Glossary Q and A

*I incorporated the Pirate Jokes and Pirate Glossary compiled by Amber Creger on the Monroe County Library System's Wiki. One of my favorite jokes from the list is:

"What is a pirates favorite kind of cookie? Ships Ahoy!" Arrr. Arrr. Arrr. Arrrr!

Additional Learning Extensions: 

1. Read More Books!

*Since this particular event was a book launch celebration, I focused on just this one book (plus gave brief mention to the companion book, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?) For other pirate-themed events, there are many fun pirate books to consider. You can find lots of additional ideas by exploring the "Pirate-Themed Lesson Plans/Event Plans/Resources" linked from this page (after you follow the link, you'll need to scroll down about 1/3 of the way into the post for these resources).

2. Facilitate a Readers' Theatre

*Resources for a Readers' Theatre, including a script, will be available in the previously mentioned study guide that will soon be available at this link: If you need the script before the study guide is available, please contact Dawn directly via a comment below, a DM on social media, or via the contact form on the left side of the blog, and I will share it with you directly. 

3. Sing Another Pirate Song, or a Potty Song, or Both!

*Pirate Song: Sing to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"

If you're a pirate and you know it, shout, "Ahoy!"
If you're a pirate and you know it, shout, "Ahoy!"
If you're a pirate and you know it, shout, "Ahoy!" and really show it.
If you're a pirate and you know it, shout, "Ahoy!"

Additional Verses: swab the deck... say, "heave-ho" ... say "avast!" ...

*Potty Song: The Potty Dance (Sung to the Tune of The Hokey Pokey) by Dawn Babb Prochovnic (inspired by songs from Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Tot by Bruce Lansky and Catherine Blake and originally shared in the Potty-Humor-Themed Sign Language Story Time Lesson Plan)

You hold your bladder (belly) left.
You hold your bladder (belly) right.
You wrap your arms like this, and you hold on super tight.
You need to find a potty or you’re gonna wet your pants.
You’re doing the potty dance.

You cross your right foot left.
You cross your left foot right.
You squeeze your knees like this, and you hold on super tight.
You need to find a potty or you’re gonna wet your pants.
You’re doing the potty dance.

You search in this place left.
You search in this place right.
You hoot and hop like this, and you hold on super tight.
You need to find a potty or you’re gonna wet your pants.
You’re doing the potty dance.

*This song is really fun to share with a group. It was giggles all around. I highly encourage it!

Photo Credit, Jennifer Green, Green Bean Books

4. Create a Pirate Hat

*You can find instructions for making a basic pirate hat out of newspaper here, and you can find instructions for a myriad of pirate-y hats here. For this particular event, I used regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper, and called the activity "Pirate Hat Origami." I can't believe that I neglected to get a single picture of pirate-hat making!

*I encouraged participants to write their Pirate Name (from the icebreaker) on their hats. (It's a great way to sneak in a little bit of writing practice. Yarrr!)

5. Encourage Extending the Learning to the Home Environment

*You can find a variety of pirate-y craft ideas here. I displayed my "Banana Pirate" sample and encouraged participants to try making their own "Banana Pirate" at home. 

Just for Fun

Have a Pirate Photo Booth/Selfie Station

* As noted above, I purchased a set of pirate-themed photo booth props, and set up an area where participants could take pictures or selfies. I didn't happen to get any pictures of this part of the event, but I'm hoping some of the people who took pictures will send them to me. If they do, I'll add them here later.

Here are the photo props (displayed in a roll of toilet paper, of course!)

Silly Books Can Help Solve Serious Problems

*Although Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? is ridiculously silly, I try to incorporate an opportunity for participants to learn about and/or support more serious issues into most of my events. For example, at a school/author visit, I might talk about World Toilet Day, which aims to raise awareness about the need for universal access to safe toilets. When an event is held at a book store, it's my hope that folks will purchase books, which helps the independent bookstore remain a viable business in the local economy. I also like to use my voice to bring awareness about local non-profit organizations that support reading and literacy. For this reason, I put out a small basket to collect books for the Children's Book Bank (which provides books to local children who need books of their own at home--it's the organization I supported for my 50th birthday... a few years ago!) Of course I'm hopeful participants will support my work and purchase one of my books, but I'm also more than happy to accept donations of any books that are purchased at the store during my visit.

Time for Fond Farewells

*Avast! Before you know it, the mother ship is ready to set sail for home ...  so it's time to wrap up.  I encouraged everyone to take a package of Pirate's Booty to go, and asked that they share one pirate-y word with me as they walked the plank to head back home.

Thanks to everyone who attended this fun event and to the wonderful folks at Green Bean Books who make me feel so welcome and supported each and every time I visit their store!

Here's me, back at home, after a MIGHTY fun afternoon. Yarrr!

Photo Credit: Nikko Prochovnic

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