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Pirate games

Pirate games

The children’s pirate games which are described are partially for older children but also partially for younger ones. When choosing some games, you should try and choose games suitable to the age of the children. Children between 8-12 years are the perfect age for this pirate feast. If the 50 games which are described below are not suitable, then simply take a lot at the other categories for inspiration and using your own fantasy, make up a pirate game yourself.

The pirate games are arranged into the following sections:

Pirate test:

A real pirate should be able to master a few things. He should not become dizzy, be able to use a grappling iron and knife and should be quick in on his feet. Whoever manages these games with ease, can call himself a pirate.

Advancing to captain, quarter master, navigator, ship’s mate or canon master.

The quartermaster, the navigator, the ship’s mate, the canon master and the captain must all know their jobs particularly well. These are specific requirements which must be fulfilled. Let’s see if the criteria of each game can be fulfilled and if there is the chance of being advanced. One more thing: when the booty is shared out, the captain and the quartermaster receive double the amount and the ship’ mate, navigator and canon master receive one and a half times the relative amount.

Daily life of a pirate

Pirates lived on the high seas for weeks on end and always had a lot of work. Even on land, there was a lot to do. The ship must be anchored down and new supplies must be found.

Pirate’s time wasting

However there were also days when there was simply nothing to do. No ship in sight to loot, simply calm seas and boredom. In order to while the time away, they played many different such as drinking competitions and arm wrestling etc.


Finally a ship is in sight which we can plunder. The whole crew is looking forward to it. A race, a cat and mouse game and the capture and plundering of a ship can now begin. Let’s see if the pirates will also win these games.

Treasure Island

Successful pirates collect endless amounts of treasure. The treasure cannot be transported all over the place on the ship and must be buried on a treasure island. In order to find the treasure again later, treasure maps are made. However there are enough people who want to find the treasure. This is no easy task. There were exertions, austerity and unforeseeable problems. The aim of these games is to overcome all of the exertions and problems to bag the treasure.

Pirate test

  1. Walk the plank

    A pirate must not become dizzy and is not allowed to lose his balance. We will take a tree trunk which is lying on the ground. The pirate must walk along the tree trunk without falling off.
    A pirate must walk along a plank which is lying on the ground, while blindfolded.

  2. In the bird’s nest

    Pirates must be able to move around surely, not only on the ship's deck, but also high up on the mast of a moving ship. We will stretch two tight ropes between two trees at a height of approx. 50-100 cm, or so high so that no-one injures themselves.

  3. Rope ladder

    Pirate games: rope ladder climbing

    A pirate should be able to climb a rope ladder. We will try this out.

  4. Throwing a grappling iron

    Ships are pulled together using grappling irons. We will try to throw the irons so that they in the correct position straight away. If you do not have any irons, a beanbag can be used.

  5. Boarding

    Boarding a ship was also possible over the masts and rigging. Like Tarzan on a rope, the pirates would swing onto a foreign ship. A rope is tied to a tree. The pirate swings from a bench onto a target (target line, second bench etc.).

  6. Knife throwing

    A pirate should be able to master the use of a knife. We will practice this. A knife is thrown onto a wooden board so that it sticks. Games with knifes always need special attention and games are not suitable for younger children. No-one should be standing in the firing line. Children or youths who mess around with the knife or swing it around wildly are not allowed to take part.

  7. Knife and sabre fight

    In a circle (or on a plank) 2 competitors stand opposite each other. Each player receives a foam knife /sabre which has some charcoal rubbed on the point. Then the hits can be seen. The loser is the person who is hit, or falls off the plank/out of the circle. For this game, we use a short sweeping brush handle which is covered with heating pipe insulation foam.

  8. Making knots

    Those who are at sea must be able to tie knots. For this task, 3-4 knots are shown on a piece of paper, which must be tied in a rope/cable.

  9. Diving for treasure

    Obviously a piece of treasure does not have to be dug up; it can also be hauled up from the bottom of the sea. However, this is easier said than done because there wasn't diver’s equipment at this time.
    We take a bath full of water and pour a pack of jelly teddy bears into it. Who can fish out the most teddy bears with their mouth in one go? Alternatively, how long does the pirate need to pull up all (or 20 pcs) of the teddy bears? You are not allowed to use your hands for assistance.

Advancing to captain, navigator or canon master

  1. Secret writing and treasure maps

    Treasure maps are often portrayed as coded, messages are written with invisible ink. In this game, treasure maps and secret messages will be produced. Who will solve the clue? The following can be used: picture puzzles, crossword puzzles, words written backwards, an alphabet using the 5th letter after the real letter, letter and number combinations or a seemingly blank piece of paper which has been imprinted with a needle/pencil. If you want to use invisible ink, lemon juice, milk or onion juice works best. You can only see the text when the words are heated over a candle.

  2. Logbook entry

    Specific happenings and the ship's speed is recorded in the ship's logbook. The speed is measured by throwing a stick attached to a line of rope overboard and the time is recorded how long the piece of wood needs to reach the end of the ship (or a defined point). An hourglass is used to measure the time. A nautical mile is 1852 meter: that represents 6080 feet. If the distance of 1 sea mile is completed in one hour, the speed is 1 knot. If the ship is 51 meters long, for example, and the time required is 20 seconds, the ship's speed is 5 knots.
    We will measure the speed with a stopwatch. As a method of travel, we will take a paddling boat, a bike or a kart which must be dragged over a distance of 50m-100m. Using the defined distance and the speed measured, an entry can be made in the logbook. Some mathematics skills are required here.

  3. Morse

    In order to communicate over large distances, flashing signs were used. However messages were also sent with the help of flags. The Morse code or sending signals with flags can be learnt during a camp. An examination will test knowledge and ability.

  4. Telescope

    A good eye and a good telescope are required to spot a ship on the horizon which we can plunder. The aim of this game is to use a telescope to recognise different objects on a table at a distance of 30-50 meters. The player has 60 seconds to look at the objects and remember them. In conclusion, the players are asked what they have seen and asked questions such as "what colour headband does the Play mobile pirate on the right have?"

  5. Shooting canons

    A good canon shooter hits his target first time every time. No simple task when the ship is moving around in the waves backwards and forwards and no modern distance measurement is available. We will shoot at cans with tennis balls.

  6. Reading a compass

    The correct placing of a destination and the correct direction was most important to arrive at the target. We will practice this with a compass, in that we ask the players which direction a building or tree is. With the help of a compass, directions can be given to follow and changes in direction can be determined. The player who masters this task finds some treasure.

A pirate’s life

  1. Pumping water

    If the waves are too high or if there is a hole in the boat, water must be permanently pumped out. We will have a relay race. Using a sponge, water will be soaked up from a tub/bucket and squeezed out into a second barrel/bucket. Instead of a sponge, a yoghurt pot or a ladle, or even just the hands, are possible.

  2. Anchor drop

    A ship's anchor is very heavy. All pirates must help drop the anchor. This game is a tug o' war. Alternative: A heavy tree trunk must be pulled over a distance of 20 meters using a rope.

  3. Loading the ship

    In a port, large supplies of barrels, boxes and sacks are loaded on board. We will do a moving courier. Either as a relay race or as a moving courier, in that objects are thrown/passed to the next person in the line. Which team will load their ship first?

  4. Angling for fish

    You could say that fish were on the front door step when the pirates were at sea. However, they do need to catch the fish first of all. The well-known angling game will be played. If you do not have an angling game, you can build one. You will need a box for the fish, cord, a magnet, a stick and paper clips which are fixed onto the cardboard fish.

  5. Eating ship’s rusks

    Ship's rusks are long-lasting and there is no danger of them going off or becoming rotten. We will play a (ship's) rusk eating competition. Who will manage to eat 5 rusks in 30 seconds? Or who will manage to eat a rusk hanging on a piece of string without using their hands?

  6. A plate of soup

    On a rolling ship on the high seas, it was surely not so easy to eat soup with a spoon. We will try it out. Who can lie in a hammock and spoon up bowl of soup (water)? The hammock will be kept moving.

  7. Eating lemons

    To help keep scabies at bay, citrus fruits were needed. For this reason, pirates must eat citrus fruits regularly. The players must eat a lemon or a grapefruit.

  8. Repairing the sails

    Sails can always rip, especially after a strong storm. The players must sew two pieces of material together, patch up a split or sew a patch onto the material. Who can do this the quickest or neatest?

  9. Cleaning the ship’s bow

    A complete overhaul of the ship would take place at regular intervals. The ship would be brought into dry dock for this (on a sandbank at low tide), so that the algae and clams can be removed from the underside and to waterproof any rusted areas. We will let the kids scrub and clean till everything shines.
    Alternative: A bucket of dirt is emptied out and must be swept together.
    Alternative: A piece of wood with nails in it (represents the clams and algae) must be freed of nails and the holes must be filled with clay.

  10. Finding provisions

    If the water supplies and provisions ran out while at sea, the pirates had to sail towards an island to find new supplies. We will play a search game as a chaos game. Which pirate team will be the first to bring the object/objects back? (5 litres of water, a lemon, 1 kg flour, a t-shirt, 10 meters of rope, 1 sack of potatoes, etc.)

  11. Changing the planks

    When it is time for a general overhaul some wooden planks have to be swapped. We take a wooden pallet and 1-2 extra boards in the required length. We remove two pieces of wood on the pallet and swap them over. For this game, you will need a hammer, nails, saw and pliers.

  12. Journey to Treasure Island

    Each and every pirate dreams of finding a large amount of treasure at some time. Where is this Treasure Island and can the pirate reach the island in time and on his own? We will now play the game „journey to Treasure Island“. This works like the game „journey to Jerusalem“ but instead of stools, carpet tiles are used. In each round one tile (island) is taken away. Who will manage to find the right island?

Pirate’s free-time

  1. Pirate dance

    The pirates celebrate wildly after successful looting. The pirates perform a super pirate dance on the table.

  2. Pirate’s shout, roar

    Pirates roar and shout and scare away their opponents with their noises. For once, the kids are allowed to shout and roar till their heart’s content. There is a game which goes with this. Two people sit opposite each other at a distance of 5-8 meters, between them is the pirate team. The first person tries to shout a message to the second person. The pirates must shout and roar to stop the message being received. What will the second person hear?

  3. Pirate bride

    A pirate ship was no place for a woman. However once on land, the pirates loved their women and liked to show off their brides. This game is a pirate’s fashion show. Which pirate or team of pirates will show us the best pirate bride?

  4. Dice games

    Popular games, for whiling away the time at sea, were dice games. We will carry out different dice games. A popular choice for a children’s party is the chocolate game. A bar of chocolate is wrapped in layers of newspapers. Whoever throws a 6, pulls on a pirate’s hat, pirate gloves and the sash and must unpack the chocolate with two daggers and eat the chocolate. As soon as the next pirate throws a 6, the utensils must be passed on.

  5. Competition drinking

    Simply to while the time away or particularly after pirate capers, drunken orgies would take place on board pirate ships. Of course, we do not want the kids to run around drunk. We will organise a drinking competition with fizzy water. Who can manage a whole bottle of water? A burp afterwards is allowed.

  6. Arm wrestling

    Who is the strongest pirate? The best way to find out is with an arm wrestling match.

  7. A tug o’ war competition

  8. Climbing up a barrel

    The barrel pedestal or plank game: 2 opponents are attached together with a 3 meter long rope and they try to pull each other from the barrel or plank.

  9. Pirate pantomime, pirate Pictionary

    Can pirates grimace? Probably. If the pirates were in foreign waters and on their way to looting a ship or while communicating with the natives, they probably had problems with the language. They tried to make themselves understood by using their hands.

    Will the group manage to work out what the pirate is trying to say? Anchor, eye-patch, lookout, port, booty, sailor, dagger, barrel, telescope, fishing net, message in a bottle, raft, Galleon figure, pieces of gold, shark, hammock, canon, captain, knots, cabooses, pilot, mast, bird’s nest, sailor’s jacket, mutiny, musket, pearls, pirate, pirate’s hat, Prise, quartermaster, rum, sword, treasure, ship, sea urchin, kit bag, sail, starboard, stockfish, skull, skull and crossbones flag, rusks


  1. Looting travels

    If a ship was discovered which could be looted, a race and a game of cat and mouse would start. We are going to have a sailing competition.

    • Each child sits on a mat or a piece of carpet. The players must now complete a race on the mat. The bottom must always stay in contact with the mat and the ship can only be moved forward with the feet. No hands are allowed.

    • If you are playing this game outside, you can also use a skateboard.

    • As a relay race: With the help of two mats or pieces of wood (ship’s planks), the pirates move themselves forward. Then it is the next team’s go. The ground should not be touched.

    • Team game with two large gymnastic mats: You will need 2 crash mats per team. The whole team moves themselves along the floor on two large crash mats.

  2. One-legged race

    One-legged pirates with a wooden leg are often portrayed in pirate films. It is not so easy, moving along on one leg. This game is a few hopping relay races.

  3. Three-legged race

    The inside legs of 2 players are bound together, so that the two players are walking on 3 legs.

  4. Stilt competition with wooden stilts

  5. Pirate games on the water

    In the open air swimming pool, indoor swimming pool or at the beach, you can play brilliant sea thief games. You will need a few air beds, 1-2 paddling boats or even two large bike inner tubes. Only children who can swim may take part. You must avoid water which is too deep, currents, stones or the edge of the swimming pool.

    • A boat is captured and the sailors thrown overboard
    • There is an air bed race – which ship is the fastest?
    • A fight in a paddling boat, the winner is the player who does not fall in.
    • Dead calm: A boat with 3 people in it is pulled along on a rope by a person on an airbed.
    • Two ships shoot each other with water bombs or water pistols.
    • A water fight in the water
  6. Pirate games on land

    • The pirates capture an island. The island is a large sheet or a marked out playing field. The island inhabitants defend their island and try to throw the pirates off their island. Which groups will win?

    • The pirates shoot at the island with full guns. Water balloons are fire (catapulted) onto the island by 4 pirates using a sheet. The islanders try to catch the flying bombs with their own sheet. A point is awarded for balloons which land on the island (the marked out area). How many shots will go astray, how many will meet their target and how many bombs are be intercepted?

    • Musket fencing

    • A future water fight can also be played with muskets (water pistols).

    • Which team has the best musket shooters? At a distance of 3 meters, candles are shot at with a water pistol. Make sure that you have replacement candles as once they are really wet, you will not be able to light them. If you don’t have any candles, you can place a funnel on a water bottle. Then you can measure how much water has been shot into the bottle.

    • A paper boat is placed in a bath full of water. At a distance of 3 meters around the bath the ship is sunk. How long will this take?

The hunt for treasure on treasure island

Pirate games: rope ladder climbing

The many games named above can be built into hours of water and land games. A frame story, a script if you like, can be developed and the separate sequences can be decided. The change over from one game to the next should run as smoothly as possible. Just imagine what is possible!


The group is split into 2-4 pirate crews. Each team has a ship and different contents and objects.

  1. Sequences for treasure hunt on treasure island

    • The pirate crew steers the boat with the help of a compass and further instructions toward a specific destination.

    • The pirate crew is stranded on a desert island. The fight for survival begins: Building a hut, fetching water, cooking, hunting and sleeping in a hammock under a cane roof.

    • A treasure map is found. On this map are different instructions.

      • Decode secret messages, put pieces of a treasure map together

      • A treasure map is placed in a bottle which is floating about in the middle of the lake / pool.

    • The crew sets sail and come across various stations, upon completion of the task the crew moves onto to the next station.

      • Climb up a rope ladder

      • Throw a grappling hook

      • Look through a telescope

      • Dive for treasure

    • The treasure is found

      • Pieces of gold are hidden (sandpit 10x10 meters)

      • The treasure chest must be dug up

    • Strange pirates appear and want to capture your boat and steal the treasure. You might want to make up confederations with the other groups of pirates.

    • In conclusion, there is a big reconciliation and a pirate party with pirate food.

    • Prizes are awarded for the best pirate, best canon master, the wildest pirate and the most beautiful pirate’s bride.

next page: Simple craft ideas for the pirate camp or festival

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