My preschooler has reached an age where pretend play is his most valued part of the day. From superheroes to chef, he’s exploring new roles and developing his imagination. To encourage his imaginative and creative thought, we decided to take some of our materials destined for recycling and extend their life through crafting and play. I’m excited to share these fun recycled crafts for pirate play with you.
Recycled Material Crafts for Preschool Pirate Play
The Pirate Ship
Arrrr – every good pirate needs a boat! An oversized cardboard box would work great for this recycled material craft, but if you don’t have one, like us, you can break down and tape together smaller pieces of cardboard to create your desired shape. Encourage your preschooler to use their safety scissors to cut tape and to apply tape as needed.
A pirate ship isn’t complete without a flag! My preschooler selected a large stick and one of his old shirts for the flag. I wanted the flag to be removable, so we taped a skull and crossbones koozie to the boat as a flag holder.
While my preschooler was napping, I went ahead and painted his boat white and gave it a name. The white paint acts as a great primer, giving your child richer colours when they decorate the boat themselves. Let them use their creativity and imagination to decorate their boat however they’d like – markers, paint, sparkles, feathers – the sky’s the limit!
Next up – we needed a parrot to accompany our recycled craft pirate ship. A feathery companion is essential for any sea bound voyager. For our parrot, we used:
- Toilet paper roll
- Scrap piece of cardboard
- Hot glue
My preschooler folded his cardboard like he was starting a paper airplane, creating a triangle. Using hot glue, I attached the triangle head to the cylinder body.
Next, we poked a hole in the back of the bird, and inserted half of a flower with a short stem, leaving the petals poking out like a tail. Finally, my preschooler pulled apart the remaining flowers and told me where to place each petal with hot glue. The finished parrot is the perfect recycled material craft for preschool pirate play.
The Treasure Map
A treasure map is a must for any little pirate, and it’s also like the ultimate scavenger hunt. We came up with a fun little way to make the map look old. Using sketchbook paper and coffee, my preschooler painted his map sepia brown. This was also a fun little learning experiment and we loved the end result of an aged-looking piece of paper.
We also creased the edges of the map and ran a sponge along the crease. After wetting the crease, my preschooler ripped the paper to create a handmade paper appearance that reinforces the map’s vintage feel. How neat is that?!
I sketched out the map, using symbolic drawings to indicate landmarks. Once complete, I placed the rolled and tied map into a plastic almond milk bottle. Next, my preschooler was instructed to find his treasure using the map. This part was so much fun – he absolutely loved it!
With the map, my little one ran to his turtle sandbox and checked for a treasure. Next was the trampoline. He followed the treasure map all the way to his surprise treasure.
Optional: It would also be a fun exercise for the kids to draw their own map, creating their own symbols and backstory.
Bonus Recycled Crafts for Preschool Pirate Play: Eye Patch, Jewelry, and Treasure Chest
To add to the play experience, we created a few additional pieces for our preschool pirate play activity that just added to the excitement. If you have time and your little one is up for it, these are also really fun to make!
For the eye patch, we painted a cardboard circle from the bottom of a water bottle pack and then added string. This recycled craft was really easy to make. You can also use any piece of cardboard cut into a circle for the pirate eye patch.
Every little pirate deserves some treasure! For the treasure, I used piggy bank change, costume jewelry, play dough, and handmade jewelry, in addition to a gold-painted bracelet and crown. The bracelet was originally a role of used up painters tape, and the crown was a grits container. You can use anything you’d like for the treasure portion – maybe your child can even help collect the treasure!
While painting the bracelet and crown gold, we also selected and painted a shoebox to act as the treasure chest for our fun preschool pirate play activity. While the gold was eye-catching, it would also be constructive for your child to paint their jewelry and treasure box expressively. By selecting their own colors and paint application, they will be more invested in the final product.
Creating all these recycled crafts for preschool pirate play was so fun for both of us. Afterward, it gave my preschooler endless time to use his imagination for creative and free play. With these three main ideas and then bonus recycled crafts to get you started with preschool pirate crafts and play, I hope that you and your preschooler can come up with even more exciting and new nautical crafts. In addition to inspiring creative and pretend play, I hope that these crafts continue to fuel your child’s imagination over time, as they have for my son.
Have fun creating, matey!
Based in Maryland, Amy is a nature-enthusiast who loves hiking, reading, and creating. With a MFA in painting and university teaching experience, she loves combining visual art and nature to create crafty and play-based learning experiences for her preschool-aged son. Extra crafts and fine art can be found on Facebook and Instagram @amyfixart or at www.amyfixart.com.
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