Mini Totem Poles (November 2011)

This project was inspired by the Totem Poles carved by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific North West Coast of North America. These monumental sculptures, carved from huge Cedar trees, are decorated with bold, colourful images of animals, fish, and human figures standing on top of each other, usually topped by a bald-headed eagle with outstretched wings.

I gave the kids lots of photos to look at, and then they got started drawing their own own. Some enjoyed making detailed copies of the creatures depicted on the traditional poles, while others preferred to imagine their own birds and beasts. I gave the children A4 drawing paper, which I had marked with two parallel pencil lines using either side of a ruler. The children were asked to draw their Totem Pole designs no wider than these lines, except for any protruding parts like wings.


After doing their initial drawings in pencil, they traced over the top using black marker pens so the creatures really stood out. Then they coloured in using felt tip pens – I asked them to choose just 3 or 4 colours (as the real Totem Poles have a limited selection of colours) although some of the children preferred to use more! Then they carefully cut out their design and glued it to a kitchen paper tube so it would stand up.

Click on the gallery below to view the finished Totem Poles:


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