Portside Pirates

We had a great adventure this evening in the library in Sant Pol de Mar. After making our pirate hats we were ready to set sail. Heave to and hoist the sails.

All aboard! Let’s sail the seven seas!

All aboard

We’re sailing to Timbuktu! We’ll find treasure! Pieces of eight!

We're sailing to Timbuktu!

We could meet Blackbeard! Shiver me timbers!


Land ahoy!

Land ahoy

All hands on deck!

All hands on deck!

Aye, aye Captain!

We talked about famous pirates. Edward Teach nicknamed “Blackbeard” who was born in England. He would put little candles or pieces of fuse in his hair and light them. They would give off smoke, giving the pirate a fearsome, demonic appearance.


William Kidd from Scotland who fought illegal pirates until he became one himself.


The Barbarossa Brothers from Turkey. They ruled the Barbary Coast of North Africa.


And Anne Bonny and Grace O’Malley both from Ireland and yes they were female pirates! At first they dressed as men while they were at sea but even when they were discovered to be women, they were admired for their skill and courage.


See below the video from Portside Pirates published by Barefoot Books.

See you next week for a journey down the Nile.


The Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks and gift-giving. It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival. The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories which explain this. On Saturday, at my storytelling session in the library, we looked at all the animals from the Chinese zodiac; the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. I asked the children the date of their birthdays and the year. In the group there were three children born in the year of the dragon, three in the year of the snake and six in the year of the horse. Then I told one of the stories of how the animals were chosen for the Chinese zodiac. I used a very simple version; The Chinese New Year by Joanna Troughton from Cambridge Storybooks. At the point when all the animals are swimming across the river I stopped to see who the children thought would win the race. After lots of guesses one child did say the rat.  Here is a version of the story on the internet. Also on this site you can find out which Chinese year you were born in by putting in your birthday. The Chinese believe that people born in a particular year take on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year. There are also some great related activities. To follow up the students did a word search from this website; Also at Activity Village you can also find lots of interesting activities about the different festivals celebrated in Britain. (Soon it will be Valentine’s Day and then Pancake Day) We finished off our session by making a bookmark which the children decorated with their own Chinese zodiac animal sign. By the way I’m a rooster!

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot!

It’s been a long time since I celebrated Guy Fawkes Night as I’ve lived in Spain for thirteen years but tonight I enjoyed telling my son all about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. It’s a very exciting story where the conspirators make a deadly plan, a dramatic escape but come to a gruesome end. The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website makes an excellent resource for telling this historical story.

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night is celebrated annually on 5th November. It commemorates the Gunpowder Plot, which was the conspiracy of English Roman Catholics to blow up Parliament and James I, king of England.

James I of England

Guy Fawkes a British soldier and his conspirators rented a cellar under the House of Lords and stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. But the plot was discovered and Fawkes was arrested. Tried and found guilt he was executed opposite the Parliament building. The conspirators

Preparations for Bonfire Night celebrations include making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, which is called “the Guy”. Some children even keep up an old tradition of walking in the streets, carrying “the Guy” and beg passersby for “a penny for the Guy.” On the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and firework displays fill the sky. 

Penny for the guy

Bonfire Night is not only celebrated in Britain. The tradition crossed the oceans and established itself in the British colonies during the centuries. Today, November 5th bonfires still light up in far out places like New Zealand and Newfoundland in Canada. guy-fawkes-effigy1

The events of 1605 are also remembered in a nursery rhyme.


Remember, remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.


Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website from the Parliamentary Archives


This website is packed with archival material – documents, journals, engravings, paintings and more, making it the ideal basis for historical study. Researched and written by historical and educational experts, the material is trustworthy and authoritative. The website is structured around a set of playing cards from the late 1600s. Their beautiful illustrations tell the whole story, from the plotters’ huddle in an inn to the firework displays of the present day.

Download the playing cards to use as a basis for sequencing activities, storytelling, writing or artwork.