In Native American culture Totem poles are used to tell the story of Native Americans family history and ancestral spirits.
Spirits are depicted as both people and animals on the totem pole. To enhance a lesson plan or unit on Native Americans and Native American culture you can create a classroom totem pole by following this directions in this easy craft project.
To begin show students some pictures of real Native American Totem poles and discuss some of the animals used to represent the spirits. On Native American Totem poles you will typically see strange faces and wild life like the bald eagle, grizzly bear, moose, beaver, otter, mountain goat, wolf, whale, porpoise, seal, sea lion, and salmon All wild life typically seen in the Northwest region where Native American tribes commonly used totem poles.
Colored Construction Paper
Brown Construction Paper
Empty Coffee Cans with lids (one per child)
1. Tell children that they are each going to create a personal totem to be combined with other students to create a classroom totem pole.
2. Give each child a several small sheets of colored construction paper and one sheet of brown construction paper large enough to go around a coffee can.
3. Instruct each child to create an animal or expressive human face using features and designs cut from the colored construction paper.
4. If their animal has any other features such as wings that they want on their totem have them cut them out as well.
5. Once they have their features and designs cut out they can glue them to the center of the brown construction paper.
6. Allow to dry
7. Once dry have them glue the brown construction paper to their coffee can
8. If their animal has wings have them glue them on now.
9. Allow to dry
10. Apply a piece of Sticky Tack to the lid of each coffee can and stick the bottom of another coffee can on top to create one large Native American totem pole or several smaller ones.
11. Display in a corner of your classroom
Once the unit on Native Americans is done your classroom totem pole craft can be easily taken apart and the individual totems sent home with each child.
This is a fun and easy craft that will showcase your students creativity and individuality while learning about Native American Culture.
Empty clean soup or vegetable cans can be used instead of the coffee cans.
A great follow up to this activity is to make Indian Fry Bread with your students.