A Pirate Christmas

For 3rd grade’s performance, I chose the John Jacobson musical “A Pirate Christmas.”  It was a blast!  I’ve heard great things about the “Pirates!” musical as well but I’d never done either show until this year.  For those who aren’t familiar, the story begins with the elves enjoying an island vacation before Christmas Eve.  A group of pirates happen upon them wanting to plunder their stash of toys.  The elves take them back to the North Pole and teach them about giving.  The end features the pirates helping the elves get the presents and sleigh ready for Santa to leave on Christmas Eve.

I have 5 classes of 3rd graders (about 90 kids) that come two days a week.  Two classes always come together so I chose those classes to be the pirates.  The other three rotate who they come to music with so I cast those children as elves and reindeer (the reindeer get to lead a dance in the middle, it’s way cute.).  Every child who auditioned got some sort of part because I really try to include every student.  Some students are perfectly content with being on stage but not ever in the spotlight.  I’m not going to force a child into doing something they are uncomfortable with but, everyone who wants to try, gets the opportunity.  That’s what elementary school is about……I know, I know, real life isn’t that but they have the rest of their lives to experience “real life.”  Of course, the children that were really talented, caught on quickly, and were good readers/memorizers were given longer speaking parts/roles over those that lacked those skills but everyone got the chance.

One success in particular was a student we’ll call G.  She didn’t even participate in the evening performance last year.  She is very shy and quiet and rarely speaks at all in my class.  She also has some speech difficulties.  Well, you couldn’t tell that during the show!  She was a tad quieter than some of her classmates but she got up there (in front of quite a crowd) and acted her  part.  Her teachers and others who had had her in previously years were so impressed at the strides she was making.

Another success was the casting of Santa Claus.  This child, “B,” has some difficulty in school.  I don’t see it because I never ask him to sit at a desk and do written work out of a book but he has his moments.  I cast him as Santa because he was just getting into it.  Everything I asked the kids to do, he would just jump in, no holds barred.  In the musical, there is a solo for Santa in a rather slow song.  I honestly didn’t think I would find a child that could memorize ALL of Santa’s lines, act the role well, AND sing on pitch for that solo but “B” blew me away.  Again, his teachers (past and present) were in awe of what a wonderful job he did.  I told him how proud I was of him and he was just beaming.  Another great part of job: creating memories.  He will remember that success forever. 🙂  Of course, now that the musical is over, I have a new best friend.  Ha!

Here are the images of the decorations.  I actually went pretty far out of my usual with getting the students in costume as well…….because usually I do nothing.  Ha!  All the pirates had swords, eye patches, and either a hat or a bandanna.  All the elves had a curly elf hat.  Pirates were told to wear solid black and elves were told to wear green and red.  Reindeer were told to wear brown and I provided antlers and noses.  I bought a Santa suit months before the program but it turned out to be way to big for “B” so we improvised with a red sweat suit with white fur and pillows for stuffing.  He looked really cute.  They all did.  Enjoy!

Pirate Ship part 1


Pirate Ship Take 1 (painted on a promethean board box)pirate ship take two

Pirate Ship (after the second coat).  I am so not an artist but I sure try.

Photo Dec 18, 5 19 46 PM

Pirate Ship cut out.  The risers are behind so the pirate students could stand behind like they were on the ship.


Photo Dec 16, 2 19 50 PM


Santa’s sleigh (also out a promethean board box)


Photo Dec 17, 4 57 32 PM


Santa’s sleigh cut out in the island scene
Photo Dec 18, 5 20 37 PM

Santa’s sleigh cut out with presents added.

Photo Dec 18, 5 20 53 PM

One side of the stage.  The other carpeted risers were where the elves stood in the island scene.

Photo Dec 18, 5 20 25 PM

The winter scene at the North Pole.

Photo Dec 18, 5 20 15 PM

Photo Dec 18, 5 20 02 PM

Students used the stage risers to stand together in the North Pole scenes

Photo Dec 18, 5 19 53 PM

Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “A Pirate Christmas

    • Singing in unison shouldn’t be a problem. My third graders were only able to do parts about half do the time. That’s something I trying to work on personally though.

      My concern would be the lyrical difficulty of the songs. Plus, you’re going to need a split for the elves vs the pirates. I split the grade level in half (ish). There is also a lot of movement onstage to deal with.

  1. Hello! I am interested in this play for 3-5th grade this year, it sounds really great! Just a question, about how long did it take you to prepare for this? I will see my k-2 students once a week for 40 minutes and I don’t want to take too much away from their music instructional time to rehearse. Also, where did you purchase this?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Erin,

      I purchased this through RBC music but it can purchased through any Hal Leonard retailer. Here is a link to the product: http://www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.do?itemid=9971525

      I saw students twice a week for thirty minutes when I did this with third graders. I’m not going to lie. It was rough because thirty minutes once you get down to it is really closer to fifteen minutes of actual instruction. We worked on it for pretty much the entire fall semester (not including Back to School procedure and review units). The good thing about any performance though is that you can cater the songs to whatever your students are learning. Students can count rhythms, discuss intervals, and form with the songs. You just have to go through and consciously choose what concepts to focus on within the scope of your curriculum.

      Hope this helps!


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