Wednesday, October 12, 2011

4th Grade Totem Poles

4th graders just finished a lesson about totem poles. Students learned about the significance of totem poles and that they were (and still are) made by native tribes who lived in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. 

The big word for this project was stylize. We learned that some artists stylize their work by changing shapes, colors, etc. in order to give their work their own personal touch. Each student created one stylized animal in the style of a real totem pole. (There are some great resources on totem pole parts online here. Unfortunately, I didn't find this until we were almost done with the project!) In the past, I had kids paint the finished product, but I decided to try collage this year after seeing an example from another blog last year. I really like how clean the collage is. More importantly, the students were more successful using collage.

My lesson plan can be found here
My keynote for this lesson is here
A PDF version of my keynote can be downloaded here.
Feel free to use or modify for your own room!


Pat said... [Reply]


I really liked your lesson plan and the studednt's work. I couldn't download your kenote as a PDF though. Could you try sending it again? Thanks so much!

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

I included an extra link to download the keynote as a PDF file. Hopefully that will work for everyone who isn't working on a Mac.

Miss Hayes said... [Reply]

These are great. I'm using them as inspiration for a collaboration I'm doing with a classroom teacher at my school.

I have a question after reading your lesson plan (it's so great that you linked to it!), What standards are you pulling from?

Thanks and keep up the great work! I'll be adding your blog to the art ed ones that I currently read :)

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

Miss Hayes,
Thanks for the compliment!

I'm using the Ohio standards on the lesson plan. We just brought in new standards this year and I think I updated the lesson plan to reflect those.

Thanks for reading!

MrsSutcliffe said... [Reply]

Hi. I am a primary teacher from England and think your lesson on totem poles is fabulous. I am about to teach my class all about Native America and know the children will love creating their own totem poles. Thank you for the inspiration.

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Hi there, Scottish Primary School teacher here and would just like to thank you for the lesson plan. It has saved me so much time. I'll let you know how we get on

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

My fourth graders are working on this project right now. They'll be excited to hear that teachers in Scotland and England are using the same lesson plan! Best of luck to you both!

k8woods said... [Reply]

These are amazing! I'm starting a totem pole lesson with my 4th graders. Can you tell me the brand/type of paper you used? I love the colors! Thank you :)

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

Thanks! I use Tru-Ray construction paper that I order from Blick. It's even 50% recycled!

Pat said... [Reply]

Thanks so much for recommending as a resource for teachers. I have a lot of fun thinking up new patterns and am always open for suggestions and special requests. I wanted to let you know that your link to the keynotes and the pdf don't seem to work for me. I would like to link to your lesson plan! Thanks again Pat

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Thanks so much for this great lesson idea. I just completed it with my fourth graders. I linked to your site.
Here's a link to my blog with some images:
Cheers from Denver, CO.
Melinda L.

Anonymous said... [Reply]

Thank you so much for sharing! I am currently doing this with my 4th and 5th grade students. They are having a blast!

Cindy said... [Reply]

Hi! Your blog is awesome! I am doing an Art Around the World series this month on my blog (The Art Curator for Kids), and I am focusing on Tlingit art one day next week. I plan on linking to this post in mine. Would you mind if I used one of your pictures along with the link? Thanks!

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

Thanks! Please feel free to use images and the link. If you search for totem poles on the blog you'll find some newer work as well. The last two years have blown me away.

Cheryl said... [Reply]

Looking for something fun to do for Thanksgiving and found your blog on Pinterest. Love the totem pole art wall. Fabulous!!

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]


Jerrhonda Matthews said... [Reply]

What size paper is this 12x18 or 9x12?

Zach Stoller said... [Reply]

12 x 18. Some kids get really detailed, so the bigger size works perfectly.