Looking for a craft activity to do with the kids? #VirtualVMM has got you covered. With this activity, kids can create a paper parrot out of recyclable materials while they learn more about sailors’ pets.



  • What types of animals would sailors take with them on their boats?
  • Why would sailors take animals with them on their ships as pets? What are the benefits, and what are the drawbacks?


  • Toilet paper roll or paper towel roll
  • Parrot template (available at the link below)
  • Paper
  • Markers, crayons, paint, etc.
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Glue or tape
  • Optional: hole punch

a hand colouring a paper parrot.


  1. Print the parrot template or trace the template onto a piece of paper from a computer screen.
  2. Colour the parrot.
  3. Cut out the parrot body and tail.
  4. Fold along the dotted lines, so the pieces pop up.
  5. Cut the toilet paper roll to the height of the parrot.
  6. Glue or tape the parrot body (not the wings) to the toilet paper roll. Glue or tape the tail to the back.
  7. Punch a hole into the back of toilet paper roll and tie a string.


Parrots are not just the friends of pirates in movies. It is thought that pirates in the 1600s-1700s kept parrots on their ships to keep them company. Parrots are funny and smart, and pirates could show off their beautiful colours to others. They are easy to keep as they eat seeds and nuts, both easily stored on long voyages.

Atlas Obscura has more information on this pirate friend: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-surprising-truth-about-pirates-and-parrots.

The St. Roch ship often had dogs along on trips through the Arctic. Why did they bring these dogs? One reason was the dogs pulled sleds to help the sailors get around the Arctic by land quickly. On the St. Roch’s second voyage through the Northwest Passage, there were 17 sled dogs on board! With 17 sled dogs came a lot of additional chores for the sailors.

Black-and-white photo of Captain Henry Larsen wearing a parka and holding a sled dog.

St. Roch Captain Henry Larsen in his parka looking identical to the dog he’s holding named Olga.
VMM. Leonard G. McCann Archives. HCWD-20-05. Larsen and Olga, ca. 1928. 

If you had to go to sea for a long time, what pet would you bring with you? Post in the comments below.