Book Review: Play Like a Pirate

As an educator, do you love the material you teach?  Do you have content crushes on your subject area?  In his book, “Play Like a Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics,” Quinn Rollins shares his story of how he uses his own passions to get students excited about learning.

When I read this book, I pictured students doing, making, exploring, and creating as they learned and showed what they know about history, language arts, math, science, and more!  Let us recognize that through constraints comes the need for creativity and that is challenging in itself.  Why not bring Play-DOH, LEGO, Hot Wheels, action figures, games, superheroes, and comic strips into your classroom?  If you are hesitant, consider this statement from Quinn:

“Reluctance to accept graphic novels often comes from teachers who haven’t personally read them.”

I challenge you to remove a few words from that sentence and replace them with any of the materials in the list above:

Reluctance to accept __________________ often comes from teachers who haven’t personally ________ [used/played with/explored/built with/considered] them.

Maybe the only thing holding you back is your own experience and opportunity to play!


We know, as articulated in the Visioning document, that:

Standards should focus on development of the whole person, tapping curiosity and imagination, and providing opportunities for all talents to be cultivated, nurtured, and valued.

Curiosity and Imagination cannot be overlooked.

And, as our students use these talents to create, let’s support them to, “share with other students (and friends, parents, and siblings), instead of shoving them back into their folders or tossing them in the recycling bin.”  While we are at it, Quinn encourages us to display student work in secondary schools, as is usually the case in elementary.  Support the students to learn from one another, celebrate the creations, and give attention where it should be: on the great work of the students.

I encourage you to read this book, consider how you can incorporate your own passions into your teaching and make your classroom a place you’d love to learn.




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