Totem Pole from Paper Towel Roll

Natives of the North Pacific Coast

I cannot believe it! Here we are, the LAST week of our study of Canada’s Natives Long Ago. If you like educational crafts, this series is the one for you! I love history, no, I adore learning about history! Today we learned about the Natives of the North Pacific Coast, and for our craft we made Paper Towel Roll Totem Poles. This craft was time consuming (took at least an hour to make 5 concurrently), I think because of all the decisions that needed to be made: what animals should I do? What colour should they be? What should be sticking off the side? Why aren’t the two eyes the same size? etc. But each child was so proud of his or her totem pole, and that it represented them! They all needed help at various times, but we just quietly worked away, and it made for a lovely morning. In fact, I was so engrossed in helping the children make their totem poles that I completely forgot to take pictures of us crafting! The clean up was relatively easy, too. Just sweeping up the bits, and putting things away.


Supplies:

  • Paper towel roll (one per child)
  • Construction paper (This is a great time to use up all those scraps!)
  • Markers, crayons, pencil crayons and pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue (we used glue sticks)
  • Ideas! You can print the DIY Totem Pole Animal Ideas for Kids below to help start you off! Creativity is a MUST!!

Instructions:

  1. Start by visiting this website (Legends of America) and answering the questions (questions like, “Is there an animal you seem to see all the time?”). This web page contains information about totem poles, as well as asking questions to help you and your children or students (or yourself! I had fun making mine💛) to help them decide which animals to put on their totem poles. Perhaps you could have them write down their answers and ideas as you read through the questions. You can also download the free printable below to give your children visual suggestions! To download, simply click the “Download” button below the picture.

2. Divide your totem pole into four sections with a pencil. This will give you a guideline when cutting up the main construction paper to wrap around your totem pole. (By the way, if you have your children use a ruler to figure out how long it is, and divide it into four sections, that counts as math 😏 #thisishowwehomeschool)

3. Get Crafting! It can be a challenge to start working, especially with so much to decide! So, just start, and improve as you go. If you get to the end and decide that you don’t like the first animal you made, redo it! No big deal! You can even wait until you’re done before gluing any on.


Tips:

  • Draw the animal’s face on the front of the totem pole and decorate the wrap around bit to look like the animal’s body. For example, put a fish face on the front, and draw scales around the sides and back.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to animals. In ours we also have dinosaurs and monsters! And one child cut out the title of the printable and glued that on🤷‍♂️!
  • Glue on things that will stick out from the paper towel holder. This is one of my favourite ideas! It makes the totem pole look so amazing! We had bat and flamingo wings that stuck way out, and antlers, and whale and cat tails and monster arms!! What can your kids come up with?
  • Don’t worry about animals being the “wrong” colour! The more colourful the totem pole the better! The National Library of Medicine has a description of what the different colours of a totem pole represent on their page, “Healing Totem.”

What animals do you already know you NEED to include on your totem? I can hear my sister-in-law saying “Tiger🐯,” and my cousin and Faunt (Fake Aunt) saying “Panda🐼!” What about you😀?

Thank you for joining me as we learned about Canada’s Natives Long Ago. I really enjoyed this curriculum, and my children LOVED it. If you are homeschooling, I’d strongly encourage you to try it out- and some of these crafts as well! We have one more stop on our Native Canadian journey, and that’s our Potlatch – a feast celebrated by Northwest Native Canadians AND Northwest Native Americans, so stay tuned and Happy Crafting!

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