I turned Josh’s old bed into a Pirate Ship

The seas were wild and the sky was pitch black my friends! The Rain pounded the ocean to the howling sounds of the wind, like a pack of wolfs ready for a big feast.

Joshio the Pirate was helming the ship through these dangerous Tatio waters of the 7 Mamio Zones. The night was long my friends, but Joshio the Pirate managed to steer the ship through the colossal waves avoiding the Kraken Zachioctopus… lurking and watching for someone to wrap his tentacles around!

A Short Story from the Imagination

Josh, my oldest son has been bugging me for a pirate ship since we came back from Sydney Australia. In Sydney we celebrated his 6th Birthday and Uncle Randy and I made a Batman Piñata filled with candy for the kids at Josh’s birthday to have a blast.

“Dad you promised me a pirate ship for my birthday.”. “Yes I did son.” I said, “Yes I did. But your birthday was in Sydney and bringing back a pirate ship to Silicon Valley would be challenging.”. Well, the pirate ship I had in my mind would be a challenge. Now that we are back in Silicon Valley and Quarantine has started, the stars were aligned. It’s time to build a pirate ship.

Sure I could have purchased a Pirate Ship on Amazon; but that’s easy. The act of building a Pirate Ship engaged the boys creativity and demonstrated to them the power of creating vs consuming.
Plus we got to spend some valuable time together. Win on all sides!

Being a father

If you want to see projects for younger kids then I highly encourage you visit Sensory Lifestyle. Sensory Lifestyle is dedicated to sharing evidence based play ideas & parenting resources that will help you feel confident in your parenting and boost your child’s development. It’s aimed at Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Tools you will need

  • An old bed frame or some wood from Lowe’s
  • Olson saw (fun method) or Jigsaw (lazy method). It’s more fun doing it by hand especially if you want your kids involved. Opt in for an Olson saw (a non electric version requiring elbow and grease)
  • Pirate nails (long black ones) and few shorter nails
  • Hammer
  • Hot glue gun with plenty of glue
  • Paddle pop sticks
  • An old shirt that we will use for the sails. If you live in Silicon Valley you probably have a pile of swag. Stop hoarding it, and deploy it to good use.

Time to build this

2-1 days.

Take your time and get your kids involved.

Be ok with making mistakes and scrapping your first prototype. Remember it’s ok to make mistakes. Your goal should be to teach your kids this basic life fundamental.

Without mistakes there are no learnings. Mistakes is how we learn. If we don’t make mistakes then we aren’t learning.

Ernest Semerda

Let’s begin…

1. Research

I started with researching what Pirate Ships look like. Don’t rely on your memory of you’ll end up with something weird. You’d be surprised how hard it is to even draw a bicycle from memory. You have been warned.

An example of what happens when you try to draw something more complex from memory.

Research with your child / children.

Listen to what they want and make few suggestions like: let’s add a black Pirate flag with bones etc… take note of these pieces since attention to detail matter.

2. Supplies

Look around your home for opportunities to convert something from one state to another. Like something that’s gathering dust. Or maybe an old bed frame (as was in my case) which now became a useful commodity.

Whatever you do not have access to, buy from a hardware shop. We ended up going to Lowes hardware.

Finding additional parts at Lowes hardware.

Keep track of your expenses

Keep track of the project’s expenses. You want to demonstrate to your child that you are frugal with money. Spending money is easy. But being thoughtful and calculated requires executive function thinking.

We used Veryfi Expenses app to snap photos of receipts and have it instantly translated into an expense with all data extraction done for me automatically. Easy peasy.

Identify pirate ship parts

  • Wooden dowels for the ship’s masts. The mast’s purpose is carrying sails, spars, and derricks, and giving necessary height to a navigation light, look-out position, signal yard, control position, radio aerial or signal lamp.
  • Crow’s nest would be sitting on one of these masts. We use an old medicine vial cut in half for that.
  • Jumbo craft sticks. Half of one would serve as a pirate ship plank and the rest for decoration.
  • Ropes and lines would run between masts and ship. Needed something that looks thicker than a basic string.

3. Build

There are no right instructions how to build a Pirate Ship. Just start piece by piece and improvise.

Ask your kids how they think you should start the pirate ship. Then move onto the why questions. Really get them engaged in the thinking and tinkering process.

You can run this like a software development project. Start small, piece by piece and work your way up. Assign work to your team (kids). Work together to nut out the complex parts of the task.

Josh’s old bed frame

If you have spare wood around the house then use it. We used Josh’s old bed frame to build the body of the ship.

Josh’s old bed. We pulled it apart for parts.

Most of all, get your kids involved !!

Brotherly support!
Kids working hard on breaking apart the last screws holding the bed frames together.
Coming together… note the crows nest 😉
Don’t forget the little detail. It’s all adds up.

Final Masterpiece!

Spin off projects

Once you have a Pirate Ship you can continue building endlessly. Here are a few additional inspiration spin-off projects you can consider.

  • Build more detail to the ship. Extend the cabin crew with chairs, table and some pirate accessories. You can also add a life boat to the side of the ship.
  • Extend the ship with motorized/electronics like lanterns that light up at night (based on room ambience) and act as a night light for the kids room.
  • Build a lighthouse so the ship won’t run aground when sailing the dangerous seas. To give it more ambience, the lighthouse could feature a rotating light on top. And for playtime you can bring some dry ice and create fog with the lighthouse in the middle of it.

The spin off projects are endless and will provide endless play opportunity for your kids and spark creativity at every corner.

In a world of over consumption and instant gratification, a project like this breaks that mould and teaches young kids that creativity is endless when you put your mind to it, things worth doing take time and building is fun!

Let me know below how your Pirate Ship turned out.

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

Aussie in Silicon Valley. Veryfi CoFounder (#YC W17 cohort). GSDfaster Founder. View all posts by Ernest W. Semerda

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