How Do You Make a Simple Totem Pole Craft for a School Project?

Use a paper towel tube in place of a log and decorate it with three to five animal faces to make a miniature totem pole. This type of project works well as a visualization tool for a teaching unit on Native American studies and the totem pole tradition. While appropriate any time of year, this is a fun learning active to accompany Native American Heritage Month in November.

  1. Cover the paper towel tube
  2. Wrap a paper towel tube with a piece of brown construction paper, leaving about 1/2-inch of overlap. Glue the construction paper to the paper towel tube.
  3. Attach colored strips
  4. Cut out a strip of construction paper for each animal on the totem pole, using a different color for each. Each strip should overlap by 1/2 inch on the back of the tube. The width of each strips depends on the number of animals desired for the pole. For a totem with four animals, each strip should be one-fourth the length of the paper towel tube, for example.
  5. Make animal faces
  6. Make animal faces on the paper strips for each totem animal; bears, beavers, thunderbirds, eagles, whales and fish are common. Draw the faces with markers or crayons, or cut out small pieces of construction paper for the facial features. To make an eagle, for example, draw or cut out eyes and a beak. Center each face on the strip, taking up about one-third of the total strip length.
  7. Attach animal faces
  8. Wrap the animal face strips around the paper towel tube and glue in place. Place large animals on the bottom, with birds on the top.
  9. Attach wings
  10. Cut out wings from a strip of construction paper. Glue it to the back of the tube behind bird totems.