The Great Game of Pirate Ships

A fun Pirate game for all the family! I found this pirate game (tried and tested) which I thought I’d share with you. It has many levels so I thought it would especially suit some Floor Explorer families with older siblings that can join in too. It can bring a lot of laughs and rude noises!

The Great Game of Pirate Ships is an exciting and energetic way to burn off energy and have a lot of fun, and works well in a hall, garden, or other open space. For safety reasons, eye patches, weapons and parrots are removed!

First mark out the ship’s deck, and clear away anything that children could fall over.  An adult takes the role of leader and explains the layout of the main deck:

Front end is the Bow, Rear is the Stern. Left side is Port, and the right side is Starboard. You’ll need a plank to walk too!

The leader then calls out locations, and the children run to the appropriate place, then leader calls out another, and they run to that one. They’ll soon get the idea, so now add some more commands:

  • Boom coming Over. Lie flat on the floor.
  • Sharks. Swim like crazy.
  • Captain’s Coming. Stand to attention and salute.
  • Man the Lifeboats. Sit down one behind the other and mime rowing a small boat.
  • Freeze.  Freeze!

Now explain that whenever the leader says ‘Freeze’ they ignore all future commands until the leader says ‘Unfreeze’. The exception is ‘Captain’s coming’ in which case they instantly jump to attention and salute. Any Pirate who either acts when frozen, or fails to jump to attention for the captain has to Walk the Plank!                                                  

 Once they’ve got the idea, add more variations:

  • Repel Boarders Port Side. Run to the port side and shout Arrrhh whilst waving imaginary swords.
  • Repel Boarders Starboard Side. You can probably work this one out.
  • Climb the Rigging. Mime climbing up rigging.
  • Catch the Rat. All pirates group together and go off in pursuit of an imaginary rat.
  • Dance the Hornpipe. Pirates organise themselves into a line and all dance a hornpipe.

The last two may need a bit of coaching at first, as groups of children are usually poor at self organisation. An older child can be promoted to First Mate to assist them. And so the game continues with more variations being added according to the age of the children. If some are a little rough for younger children, just choose appropriately, or make up your own.

  • Cannon Ball Everyone rolls up into a ball. Cannon Balls (Pronounced Ballza) Children pair off and bend over with their bottoms almost touching. When everyone is ready shout ‘fire’, upon which, everyone sticks their bottom out and attempts to knock the other child over. Very silly!
  • Poop Deck Everyone holds their nose and mimes pulling a toilet chain (The poop deck is the highest deck on a ship but don’t let realism spoil the fun).
  • Rum Ration Everyone runs to the centre of the room to receive their tot of rum. Note, you do not run for your rum straight after Captain’s coming’.
  • Beans for Breakfast In case you haven’t guessed, participants adopt a suitable pose and make a rude noise. And of course you do not make rude noises in front of the Captain, so if it comes after Captain’s Coming, anyone who makes a rude noise is made to Walk the Plank.
  • Kissing Pirates All the pirates run up and kiss each other (I’m joking!)
  • Monkeys Pirates all run around doing impressions of apes, complete with sound effects
  • Ship of Fools Everyone runs around behaving in a crazy manner or imitating, animals, parrots, or loonies – anything goes!
  • Seasick Sailors Rush to the side of the ship and pretend to be sick.
  • Time for Bed Play the game until everyone is too tired to continue then on ‘Time for bed’ everyone lies down for a short rest, unless of course the children are older in which case the command is:
  • Massacre And everyone lies down dead.

This game teaches children to follow different instructions quickly, and because of the catch out rules, also teaches them to think before they act.


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