This series of worksheets looks at the history and culture of pirates of our past. We also look at modern and fictional pirates.

Pirates are thieves of the sea. Traveling on sailing vessels in groups these seamen would attack, seize, and even destroy ships that were in harbors or very near to shore. Historical pirates were also key figures in the slave trade and were well known for smuggling contraband for parts few dare enter. They did not fight for a country or rebellion group they were most on their own. Piracy became such a threat to society that almost all countries viewed the offense to be punishable by death. The earliest known pirates were from what today is the country of Turkey in 1300 BC they were known as Lukkans. Though we wish piracy was a distance memory in the twenty-first century we have seen piracy take place in the failed state of Somalia where people, cargo, and full ships were taken hostage. The best way to explain to kids what Pirates are and were is to call them the Bank Robbers of the seas. In the early eighteenth century, the condition of the seas was ripe for the picking and many young men pivoted to piracy as a way of life. This was the time that Blackbeard and Calico Jack became famous. Because of the dangers of their chosen profession most pirates were only active for a few years until they met their end.

We begin by introducing the concept and we slowly advance on well known radical seamen that were robber barons. We look at how modern times have been affected by the history of these scoundrels. We also look at how popular culture has immortalized these characters in the form of literature and film. The worksheets below are super diverse. We look at historical pirates in the Jolly Roger, Ching Shih, Blackbeard, Sir Francis Drake. Who does not want to learn to speak like a Pirate? We all do.

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Piracy Reading Passage

Piracy is the act of committing robbery or violence on the sea.

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Piracy - Multiple Choice Questions

The oldest known instances of piracy were committed in the 14th century BC by a group of ocean raiders known as the Sea Peoples, who attacked Aegean and Mediterranean ships.

The Jolly Roger

The flag most associated with pirates, and which identified them as such, was called the Jolly Roger.

The Jolly Roger - Short Answer Questions

Who are the first people known to use the skull and crossbones symbol?

Three Real Life Pirates

Sir Frances Drake was considered a pirate by the Spanish, but he was both a privateer and a hero to his native England.

QUESTIONS: Three Real Life Pirates

Henry Morgan is generally considered to be the best-known pirate of the buccaneering era.

Female Chinese Pirate Ching Shih

Under her leadership, the organization grew even stronger and more prosperous. They raided and plundered every town and ship from Macao to Canton.

QUESTIONS: Female Chinese Pirate Ching Shih

How did the Chinese government eventually get rid of the Red Flag Fleet?


Blackbeard became well known for attacking settlements in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic Coast of North America.

QUESTIONS: Blackbeard

Blackbeard is most infamous for creating a blockade of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina in 1718.

Sir Francis Drake Reading Passage

Seeking revenge, Drake became a privateer, a private citizen under contract with the British government.

QUESTIONS: Sir Francis Drake

How did Britain's Queen Elizabeth feel about Drake, and how did she show her feelings?

Modern Day Pirates

Piracy has been ongoing well into the early 21st century. Modern pirates have been operating along the Somali coast, which wraps around the Horn of Africa.

QUESTIONS: Modern Day Pirates

Many of these pirates were once poor fishermen living in war-torn African countries.

Famous Fictional Pirates Reading Worksheet

A memorable fictional pirate is Long John Silver, from the novel Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

Famous Fictional Pirates - Short Answer Questions

How was the character of Captain Hook unrealistic?

The Golden Age of Piracy

In the early 1900s, historians used the term "golden age" to refer to a particular era of pirate history, though they sometimes differed with regard to the beginning and ending dates of such a period.

The Golden Age of Piracy - Multiple Choice Questions

Today, the Golden Age of Piracy is considered to have begun in the 1650s and ended in the late 1720s, and is further broken down into three distinct periods.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated on September 19th. The holiday is the invention of John Baur and Mark Summers.

Talk Like a Pirate Day - Short Answer

What famous columnist helped them to promote Talk Like a Pirate Day?