As part of our section of American art, students learned about Native American nations of the Northwest. The Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida carved elaborate totem poles out of wood to honor someone, to tell a story, or sometimes just as art. We studied their use of color and its representation, and talked about animal totems.
First, the children built their totem poles out of paper towel cardboard tubes taped to a rectangle of chipboard about 6x9 in size (I used the backs of old paper pads). Then they painted the poles brown and the bases green. Our totems were four figures high. We used 2.5 inch strips of paper in red, white, blue and green.
They drew each image in sharpie and added more color with cray pas. For images that didn't extend beyond the width of the pole, we just wrapped our paper around and adhered with tacky glue. For larger images we used a second strip of paper, cut the outer edges of both strips together, and sandwiched the two strips to the front and back of the pole.