Lesson Plan

Pirates of North Carolina

The pirate Blackbeard with his flag
Blackbeard (Edward Teach)
Glenn Eure, Glenn Eure's Ghost Fleet Gallery, Nags Head, NC
Grade Level:
Fourth Grade
Geography, History, Language Arts
Three minimum/Seven maximum 30-Minute Lessons
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
National Standards:
Topic 2-Standard 3
Social Studies:
Standards 3,6,7
Language Arts:
Standards 1,4,5,6,8

North Carolina State Standards
Social Studies (2006): Grade 4 – Goal 3:
Language Arts (2004): Grade 4 – Goal 2, 3, 4
North Carolina, Blackbeard, Pirate, Cape Hatteras, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape


This lesson is designed to introduce students to pirates who plagued the coast of North Carolina during the time of colonization. Students will use a variety of strategies and writing process elements in composing their report.  It will allow students to integrate research of social studies/history of the colonial era with technology, reading, and writing, while connecting their studies to exploring Cape Hatteras National Seashore.


  • Identify pirates who plagued the North Carolina coast during colonial times 
  • Integrate reading, writing, and social studies concepts 
  • Apply comprehension strategies critically, creatively, and strategically 
  • Use media and technological resources for research and as tools for learning
  • Research a pirate chosen from the list identified and collect specific information about the pirate 
  • Present to the class a history of the pirate's life including, but not limited to, defining activities for which they are most noted 
  • Communicate effectively with different audiences through spoken, written, and visual formats   


This lesson is designed to introduce students to pirates who plagued the coast of North Carolina during the time of colonization, as well as to develop research skills in technology and write a research report. They will use a variety of strategies and writing process elements in the composing of their report. It will allow students to integrate research of social studies/history of the colonial era with technology, reading, and writing.


Download the pdf (see link at top of page)

Background Information:

Introduce the pirate Blackbeard by telling some stories as suggested here, or tell about any pirate you wish. The websites listed in the references give lots of information, as well as any of the books listed.


BLACKBEARD: Ocracoke's Most Famous Visitor

Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard, served England gallantly as a privateer in Queen Anne's War. English naval forces were often assisted by pirate ship crewmen. These privateers were paid to plunder rival merchant vessels. After the war ended in 1713, many privateers turned to piracy including Teach. His energetic career began in the Caribbean with pirate Benjamin Hornigold. Blackbeard set off on his own in 1717 when Hornigold rewarded him with a ship they had hijacked. Renaming the ship "Queen Anne's Revenge," he outfitted her for pirating, including 300 men and 40 cannons. Blackbeard sailed the Caribbean and the Atlantic along coastal waters of American colonies, torturing merchant ship crew members and passengers, stealing valuable cargo, and leaving destruction in their wake.


In the battle, Blackbeard used his fearsome appearance to intimidate other ships to surrender early.  He intimidated foes by wrapping slow-burning lighted coils in his long black hair and beard. Wearing two gun belts across his chest and carrying six pistols into battle, he was an unforgettable enemy. Feared by everyone sailing the seas, including his peers, he was said to be "kin to the devil." This shroud of mystery and awe was important in creating the legend of Blackbeard. Pirates used myths to make their enemies scared even before the pirates raised their flags. 


Pirates built their reputations with actions and symbolic gestures. Flags were an important part of creating the total pirate image. Blackbeard's flag, depicting a heart dripping blood while a skeleton held an hourglass and spear, was designed to strike fear in the hearts of victims. Outlandish names like "Blackbeard" were as important as the manner of dress. Despite the giant-sized legend his life and times provoked, the golden age of Blackbeard was short-lived and ended in waters near Ocracoke.


Piracy was prevalent in North Carolina since the Colonial Governor, Charles Eden, had been bribed by Blackbeard to ignore the criminal activities. With commercial ships using Ocracoke Inlet to access inland ports, Blackbeard and several other pirates found the coastal waterway ripe for easy pickings. Though pirates anchored in the deep inlet channels and came ashore occasionally on the southern tip of Ocracoke Island, there is no evidence that they built homes or buried treasure here.


Assign Research:

Establish assigned task: pick out the pirate that the student wishes to research and begin using the web and books to gather information. Organize information on note cards or complete the outline on paper. 


Allow at least three days for all materials and facts to be gathered and organized. This time would be used to conference with each student. Encourage student where the information in their notes is weak and help those who cannot find what they need. Descriptions should be specific from the story and they should emphasize the importance of accurate characteristics and how these characteristics may be creatively stated.


Prepare for Presentation:

Encourage student to give the listener a visual description using words.


Allow at least three days for the drafting of a written form of the research report about their pirate. Once again, lots of conferencing will be needed with the writers. The teacher is to set a goal of what day and time the final copy needs to be turned in.


Begin discussion of how the presentation could be given. Suggestions…Dressing up as the pirate you have written about and tell us the story, draw a "WANTED" poster of the pirate they have chosen and elaborate verbally with interesting facts or more information, create a poster displaying the important or interesting facts about the pirate and be prepared to talk about what you wrote. Posters should be at least 11" by 18" and may be up to a full poster size.




Allow 2 to 3 days for the presentations to be given, depending on the size of your class.


Asses the students on the following criteria:
  • Check for accurate descriptions 
  • Interesting facts  
  • A conclusion in oral presentations through peer or teacher assessment   

Park Connections

Ocracoke Island, part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, has a long history of pirates using its sheltered coves, and is the location of the last battle of the pirate Blackbeard.

Additional Resources

1. Pirates of the Southern Coast; Sandra MacLean Clunies and Bruce Roberts; Lighthouse Publications; 2002
2. The Pirates of the Colonial North Carolina; Hugh F. Rankin; North Carolina Division of Archives and History; 1997 
3. Pirates of the Carolinas; Terrance Zepke; Pineapple Press, Inc.;2008 
4. Pirates! Raiders of the High Seas; Christopher Maynard; DK Publishing, Inc.; 1998 
5. www.nps.gov/caha/historyculture/blackbeard.htm; Ocracoke’s Most Famous Visitor; September, 2008 
6. www.piratesinfo.com 
7. www.beej.us/pirates/ 
8. www.en.wikipedis.org/wiki/piracy 
9. www.piratehaven.org 
10. www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/pirates/html/bbeard.html 
11. www.ocracoke-nc.com/blackbeard/