These Totem Poles were lots of fun for my fifth graders. To begin this project, I showed them photos of real totem poles. We discussed that often the animals on the totem pole were representation of family or tribe members. The Native Americans often associated themselves to one specific animal. For this project, I asked the students to choose an animal that they felt they identified with. (Students chose everything from birds to fish). Each child created one animal which became one piece of our large class totem poles.
I found the idea for this lesson on Thomas Elementary Art, except instead of painting, I had my students use construction paper. To begin this project, I had my students choose a piece of large construction paper. They then folded it in half "hot dog style," and cut the sides to make interesting shapes. The rest of the mask was made from my construction paper scrap box. Students used small scraps to cut out eyes, nose, mouth, and designs. For this project, I emphasized overlapping shapes and colors. For example: To make an eye, they could use one color for the eye shape, and then cut out a second color for the eye ball.
I absolutely LOVE the outcome of this project! They look absolutely wonderful hanging tall in the hallway.