A totem pole project for elementary school students should teach the class about the history and significance of totem poles and then direct each student to create a piece of a collaborative totem pole in the classroom. This project requires scissors, construction paper, adhesive and informational handouts for the students.
Start the totem pole project by teaching the class about the history of totem poles, which are a form of art for Native American tribes in northwest North America. Some tribes created the poles for purely artistic purposes, while others carved them to record history and legends or for spiritual and religious reasons. Show examples of totem poles to students and provide them with handouts of different animals and their significance. For example, the thunder bird was a messenger from the sky and the bear was a symbol of power on earth.
Have students choose an animal to create or assign one to them. They can use the handouts and examples as a guide to help them create their pieces of the totem pole. Students can use scissors and glue to create animals out of various colors of paper. After the students have created their animals, combine all of the students' work on the wall, taping each piece on top of the next to create a tall totem pole.