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Sense of Belonging: Homes and Communities #1: A New Home for a Pirate, by Ronda Armitage

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Lesson Overview:

This is a simple, easy-to-prepare lesson in which the children are asked to think about the kind of home that is most comfortable to them.  With the use of Ronda Armitage’s brilliant story, students can contemplate the places they feel most at home.  This is very helpful to third-culture-kids or students who are not currently in their permanent homes.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

1-5 (This one has universal appeal.)


To respond to a piece of literature by drawing or writing, the place he or she is most at home.  (AASL 4.1.3, “Respond to literature and creative expression of ideas in various formats and genres.”)

Suggested Time:

30-40 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will make a simple drawing or write a descriptive paragraph about the place where he or she feels most at home.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Explain that, in today’s lesson, we will “tune in” to the new Unit of Inquiry.  The new unit focuses on the feeling of belonging to a community and feeling at home.  A lot of wonderful literature connects to this theme, so today we’ll enjoy a story about a little pirate who didn’t want to be a pirate anymore!

How many of you have ever had to stay somewhere that didn’t feel quite right?  How many of you think that one day you might like to live in a home that is different from the one you have now?  Who would like to try out different kinds of homes, perhaps in order to find one that feels the best?

Let’s read together and see what happens to our little pirate.

2. Main:

Teach A New Home for a Pirate by Ronda Armitage and Holly Swain.  This is an enchanting read-aloud for any age group.  The kids will quickly learn the lines that repeat:

“I want a house that stands still, with a view from a hill, and a roof that’s blue like the sky.”

Even better is, that after looking carefully at what the little pirate packs, they can predict how he will help the new friends he meets on his journey.  Let the children make their predictions before you reveal his strategies!

If the children are very young, you will need to clarify some of the vocabulary like mainbrace, landlubber, cutlass, etc.  But, because all children have a fascination with pirates, this is a fun and enjoyable story.

Check for understanding at the end.  Make the children grasp these or similar ideas:

  • Jed and Ted have changed places.  (What does not fit one fits the other perfectly.)
  • It takes some effort to make a change.  (Ted had to go to Pirate School, Jed had to take a journey.)
  • Different homes have different characteristics and offer different opportunities.  (The ship vs the hilltop farm.)
  • It is good to take responsibility and make decisions that contribute to your own well-being.  (Jed and Ted both looked for a change and then took advantage of opportunities.)
  • Everyone needs help and support!  (Jed had a supportive family and found new friends.  Ted made new friends and took a risk as a grown-up.)

You and your students will have different ideas – these are just a few of the ways you can work with the text.

Give the children time either to draw a picture of their ideal home or to write a short descriptive paragraph about their ideal home.  I typically teach this lesson with Grade 1 children, and I only offer the drawing option.  However, if you are working with older students and need a writing extension, this is an easy one.  The writing prompt could be:

“What would be a perfect home for you?  Write a descriptive paragraph to explain to your reader the kind of home you would like to have someday.  Be specific!”

3. Conclusion:

Ask a few of the children to share their drawings or read their paragraphs.  I am always amazed at what the children come up with, so be sure to allow enough time for sharing at the end.  Thank the children for their work and be sure that it finds its way into their UoI notebooks.

  1. Blank white paper
  2. Blank lined paper (if you select the writing extension).
  3. Colored pens, pencils, and markers.
  4. A copy of A New Home for a Pirate by Ronda Armitage and Holly Swain.

Ronda Armitage is best known for her classic Lighthouse Keeper series.  However, this book adapts itself so well to the PYP.  Change is a main concept in the story, but it fits well with units on homes, communities, journeys, and well-being.

Recommended books for this lesson:

A New Home for a Pirate by Ronda Armitage and Holly Swain

Key Terms:

Homes, Ships, Pirates, Well-Being, Communities, Relationships