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Pirates of the Carolinas

Students will examine written records regarding famous pirates living in the Carolinas. Students will learn about the lives of Blackbeard, Anne Bonney and Mary Reade.

Grade Level 4th grade

Learning outcomes

Students will:

Teacher Planning

90 minutes

(This lesson could be broken into two days. One day to explore Blackbeard and another day to examine the lives of Anne Bonney and Mary Reade)



NC Colonial Records Vol. 2 pg 318 (Letter from Thomas Pollock to Charles Eden)

NC Colonial Records Vol. 2 pg 336 (Letter from Alexander Spotswood to the Board of Trade of Great Britain)

Ask students to think about pirates. What do they know about pirates? From what sources have they learned about pirates? (Most students will think of current movies and Peter Pan). Ask the students what pirates did? (They would rob ships and steal supplies.) There are several pirates that have ties to North Carolina. One of the more famous pirates of colonial times was Blackbeard. Blackbeard is actually a nickname. Blackbeard's real name is Edward Thatch (other spellings Thaches or Teache).

To learn more about Blackbeard's life we are going to complete a true/false questionnaire. (This can be given to each student, projected on the board, or students could vote using interactive software.) Each of the answers on the true/false questionnaire are true. After Blackbeard's death there was an ongoing argument between the Governor of North Carolina and the Governor of Virginia. Governor Eden was upset because he had pardoned the pirate and was not aware that the navy planned to attack him. Governor Spotswood was upset because he felt that North Carolina was working together with Blackbeard. Show the students the Colonial Records letters (via overhead or using a Smart Board). There is reason to believe that Spotswood did not get the permission he was supposed to and that Governor Eden did work with Blackbeard and allow him to sell his stolen goods in North Carolina.

There were two other pirates with North Carolina ties that were also famous because unlike all of the other pirates these pirates were woman. In order to learn more about their lives we are going to read the picture book The Ballad of the Pirate Queens this is a historical fiction written by Jane Yolen. Explain to the students that historical fiction is based on real facts but some information may have been made up. In order to listen for the important facts the students can complete a reading guide while listening to the story.

The students could write in their journals what they learned about pirates from the Carolinas and the reading guide could also be used as an assessment.

The students could write in their journals what they learned about pirates from the Carolinas and the reading guide could also be used as an assessment.

Other resources for kids to explore:


Mary Reade and Anne Bonney

NC curriculum alignment

Social Studies
4th grade Social Studies

3.01 Assess changes in ways of living over time and determine whether the changes are primarily political, economic, or social.

3.02 Identify people, symbols, events, and documents associated with North Carolina's history.

3.05 Describe the political and social history of colonial North Carolina and analyze its influence on the state today.

4.05 Identify and assess the role of prominent persons in North Carolina, past and present.

Lesson plan created by Lara Willox