Wednesday, October 15, 2014

4th Grade Totem Poles

It has been entirely too long since I've posted. I won't bore you with excuses. To make up for it, I'll post a yearly favorite. 

This totem pole project has evolved quite a bit over the years. It was originally a painting project. The problem with that is that kids would have awesome drawings, but not have the painting skills to pull off the final artwork. I switched it over to a collage project and immediately got significantly better results. My latest improvement happened last year. I make handouts with better reference materials. I've always had my students draw from real images of North American animals. I now have them use that reference (in the form of a huge stack of books from the school library), but I also copy a reference handout with images from Students find inspiration from actual animal images as well as from the traditional shapes found in the handout. 

I had some more amazing results this year. I think limiting color use does so much for the work. I have my students limit themselves to four total colors and their work shows greater maturity than I would ever expect to see from 4th grade artwork. Send me pictures if you every try this lesson. I'd love to see work from other students!

Download my lesson plan!


SJS Art Studio said...

Limiting colors here seems to have really allowed the the kids to focus on shape and style. Absolutely awesome results!

Zach Stoller said...

Thanks for the comment! I love how this project turns out.

Marie-Claude Leroux said...

Wow, these look incredible! What a great collaborative project!

Tracy Mathys said...

I do a version of this lesson with my Fifth grade students! It is always a hit! There are a few pictures on our classroom Instagram @shelbyMSart!

Daniel Brickwood said...

Hello! Thank you so much for this blog post, Zach.

I'm from London and we just started a new topic called "Road Trip USA" which has an art focus on the Native Americans. This project was PERFECT and I'm so pleased with the results.

Here are our results if you're interested:

Thanks again and I look forward to "borrowing" more of your ideas :D

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for posting this... and the supporting plans/ppt! I teach social studies, and have an extra hour each week for hands-on projects. I plan on letting the students work on this during that time while we cover our first nations unit. I really appreciate the work you put into making this and posting on the blog- the kids will enjoy this so much more than anything I could make up!