9 DIY Crafts to Make Your Kid’s Pirate Costume Off-the-Hook

This story was produced in partnership with Santiago of the Seas, a new bilingual adventure show for preschoolers on Nickelodeon that follows Santiago and his loyal crew of Good Pirates as they work together to defend the treasures of their home, Isla Encanto. Check out all the fun with Santiago and crew when it premieres on Friday, October 9th at 12:30/11:30c.



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You’re in your home office finishing another Zoom meeting when something catches the corner of your eye. In a flash, the thing darts through your study, long stick in hand, shouting, “Piratas ahoy!” before thundering off to the kitchen. Yup, that’s your kid, whose newest fascination is playing a pirate after learning about the new show on Nickelodeon, Santiago of the Seas. If your kid’s excitement has inspired them to impersonate their favorite magic sea-dwelling, magic summoning, bilingual pirate Santiago, you’re not alone. It’s adorable, really, but the truth — if you’re being honest — is that their pirate get-up could use a little work.

Specifically, the kid could use a few accessories that capture the spirit of kind-hearted cartoon pirates like Santiago Montes, his cousin Tomás, and their loyal mermaid-turned-crewmate Lorelai. A treasure chest. A sword. A spyglass. A cool tricorner.  Sure, you could go online and buy them with a few clicks. But why miss out on the fun of making your own? The beauty of whipping up these costume accessories yourself is that it can bring the magical world of make-believe to life, allowing your child’s imagination to dictate an original design only they could dream up.

If they’re interested in making or improving a pirate costume, these 9 accessories can be made from stuff you probably have lying around the house like hangers, cardboard, and duct tape. And once the materials have been acquired, the steps are extremely easy to follow, ensuring that your child can lend a hand in making costume add-ons that will make playing pirates way more fun.

Santiago’s Pirate Hat



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A good hat is one of the most identifiable pirate accessories and makes any pirate outfit complete. Santiago’s hat also happens to be the favorite resting spot of his pet frog, Kiko. To make a replica, you’ll need blue construction paper, scissors, and two-sided tape.

  • To start, cut an inch-wide, two-foot-long band from the construction paper. Wrap this around your child’s head, noting where the band begins to overlap. Place a two-sided piece of tape here, and seal the band in a circle. Cut off any extra paper.
  • Next, draw the silhouette of your pirate hat, making sure it’s symmetrical, on a sheet of construction paper. Place another sheet behind it and cut both out together. If they’d like, kids can draw pictures, their name, or anything else they want to adorn their hat.
  • Place a piece of double-sided tape in the middle-bottom of each cutout (on the opposite side of the drawing detail), then adhere the other side of the tape to the front or back of the band. Tape the matching ends of the cutouts together to complete the hat.

Santiago’s Spyglass



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As the new protector of Isla Encanto, Santiago and his friends need to keep a lookout for enemy pirates like Bonnie Bones. Luckily they have a spyglass with special powers, including night vision, X-ray vision, and heat vision, that can identify microscopic items and help the crew see things far away. Your young pirate can help with a spyglass of his own. To make it, take a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels or plastic wrap and paint it blue. Then, paint a smaller cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll gold and fit it inside the longer one — it should be snug, but able to slide back and forth. (If it’s not small enough to fit inside, cut it lengthwise, coil it tighter, seal with tape, and try again.) Once constructed, your kids can embellish the outside with the nautical details of their choice!

Santiago’s Compass



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Every pirate needs a compass to navigate the high seas, and Santiago and company are no exception. Start by cutting out a circle (4” diameter) from a piece of cardboard. Use a yellow marker to color it in. Once the marker is dry, take a black marker and write the cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West) at the appropriate points. Cut a super-slim 2” strip from black construction paper, making a point at one end. Use a thumbtack to secure the non-pointed end of your compass needle directly in the middle of the circle (leaving enough room so the needle can spin). Using pliers, bend any metal tip from the tack that comes through the backside of the cardboard, so that it lies flat, then cover the metal tip with thick tape for safety. Use scissors to punch a small hole in the top of the compass. Run a piece of string through and tie it in a loop, so your pirate can wear it around their neck.

El Bravo Boat





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You can’t be a pirate if you don’t have a boat. In this replica of Santiago’s ship, El Bravo, you’ll need a jumbo cardboard box (4’ x 4’ will do), yellow and blue paint, a long pole (like a broom or mop handle), a pot of dirt, zip ties, scissors, wire, and an old sheet. Here’s what happens next:

  • Paint the outside of your box blue, leaving space to decorate the boat with yellow trim, just like El Bravo.
  • Cut the sheet into a right triangle with a 2’ base and 2’ height. Cut 4 slits along the edges of both the height and base sides. Take a 2’ piece of wire and weave it through the slits of the base to form a stiff edge.
  • Line the top of the 2’-high edge of the triangle up with the top of your pole. Slip a zip tie through the top slit and around the poll; pull it tight. Continue down the side of the sheet, securing it to the poll.
  • Place the pot of dirt inside the cardboard box.
  • Stick the end of your pole in the dirt to secure it in place. Tada! You’re ready to set sail on the high seas!

Santiago’s Sword



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Any self-respecting, swashbuckling pirate needs a sword. And thanks to some cardboard and tinfoil, she can have one! Use a pen to draw the sword outline on a sturdy piece of cardboard, making a point at one end, and a handle at the other. Take scissors and cut it out. Wrap the blade of the sword tightly in tinfoil and color in the hilt with a brown or black marker.

Tomás’s Magical Guitar



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Just like Santiago’s cousin Tomás, your pirate can whip up a good sailing wind by strumming the strings of his cuatro, an instrument similar to a guitar that has four strings. You’ll need a shoebox, elastic bands, scissors, glue, black and white paint, and a ruler (or a similarly sized and shaped piece of wood). Start by removing the shoebox lid and cutting a rectangle about 3” x  6” from the bottom of the box. Cut four elastic bands into strings and stretch them, evenly spaced, lengthwise across the rectangular hole. Glue the ends in place. Replace the box lid and glue shut. Glue the slab of wood to the back of the box (guitar body) in such a way that about 12”-16” are left the neck. Paint your instrument with skull and beach designs so that it more closely resembles Santiago’s.

Sir Butterscotch the Crow



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Birds are to pirates as Fido is to your family. That is to say, they provide complaint-free companionship and comfort during challenging times. In Santiago of the Seas, enemy pirate Bonnie Bones’s sidekick is a crow named Sir Butterscotch. To make your own bird, follow these 10 steps (or go straight to Origami.me where these directions came from for visual aids, too).

  • Fold the paper in half and unfold it. Then fold both sides into the center and then unfold them.
  • Fold both sides into the center along the dotted lines.
  • Make a Rabbit Ear Fold on each side resulting in a Fish Base.
  • Fold the flaps out along the dotted lines.
  • Fold both sides in along the dotted lines.
  • Fold the model in half.
  • Fold the paper behind along the dotted line.
  • Make 3 folds along the 3 dotted lines.
  • Make a Pleat Fold and then one more fold at the tip of the beak.

DIY Treasure Map



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Where are the bars of gold hidden? Where have enemy pirates Bonnie Bones and her crow sidekick, Sir Butterscotch, hidden the treasures they stole? Which path will lead Santiago and gang to victory?  Santiago hunts for clues in Capitán Calavera’s journal, and viewers can help by drawing a treasure map. To make yours, use a red marker to draw the outline of an island, like Isla Encanto, on a thin sheet of paper. Add colorful marker details for roads, secrets paths, enemy pirate homes, and possible treasure locations. Crumple up the paper, open it up, and crumple again. Do this until it looks thoroughly tattered. Fold neatly and stash with the telescope.

Capitán Calavera’s Treasure Chest





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Santiago and his friends are in charge of guarding the precious jewels of the Isla Encanto that once belonged to Capitán Calavera. They are stashed, naturally, in a treasure chest, a necessary ingredient in any good pirate story, including the one your kids are making up. To make your own, grab a picnic cooler (one with a hinged lid is best) or lunch box. Take a can of blue spray paint and cover the cooler completely, inside and out. Let dry and then use gold spray paint to add details like a keyhole and trim that runs around the lid of the chest. Send your little pirate out into the yard or take a walk together at a local park to collect interesting stones, twigs, and other objects of nature. Add them to the treasure chest, along with any marbles, holiday tinsel, and sparkly costume jewelry you have.

Now that your kid’s getup matches their imagination, they can go on adventures as grand as Santiago and crew’s. For inspiration on hidden treasure, protecting islands, and navigating magical Spanish speaking ships, tune into Santiago of the Seas, premiering on Nickolodeon on  Friday, October 9, at 12:30/11:30c.

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