Return to Headlines


Totem Poles

Have you ever heard of a totem pole?  Totem poles are monumental carvings, a type of Northwest Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols or figures. They are usually made from large trees.  

Watch the video on the right to get a better idea of what a totem pole is.  As you watch, begin thinking about things you would like to have on a totem pole if you were able to make one.

Maybe you can’t carve a giant tree into a totem pole, but you can make one right at home. All you need is an empty paper towel roll, some paper, crayons or markers, and your imagination.

Check out the link below to guide you in making your very own totem pole.

Materials Needed

  • Empty paper towel or wrapping paper rolls
  • Crayons and/or markers
  • Construction paper (many colors)
  • Glue
  • Scissors


  1. Cut a piece of construction paper long enough to wrap around the paper roll.
  2. You can cut the paper roll in half to make a smaller totem piece.
  3. Lay the paper out flat and draw on an animal’s face. It’s a good idea to have some examples of actual totem poles (books, photos etc.) handy.
  4. When you have finished drawing the face, glue the construction paper around the paper roll.
  5. Cut a triangular shape (for the nose or beak) out of the construction paper, crease it down the middle (so it will stick out) and glue the edges onto the face.
  6. Cut a pair of wings and glue them to your totem.
  7. If you like, you can make a few different totems and stack them on top of one another.

If you need some ideas and inspiration for what to put on your totem pole, follow this link:


Have you ever heard of an Inukshuk?  An Inukshuk is a structure of rough stones stacked in the form of a human figure, traditionally used by Inuit people as a landmark or a commemorative sign.  Basically, Inuit people would stack rocks in certain places in order to communicate information. Sometimes they would build them as a warning to others and sometimes they would build them to remember where they once had a great hunt.  

Watch the video on the right to learn more about Inukshuk.

Making your own miniature Inukshuk. It’s easy.  The first thing you need to do is go on a rock hunt.  Think about the different shapes of rocks you will need in order to make a human looking figure.  Once you have all of your rocks, begin to stack them up. It will take some skill and patience in order to get them to stay in place. 


  • Rocks


  1. Stack your rocks carefully
  2. Take out a sheet of notebook paper. Write your name, date, and grade on the first three lines.
  3. Using the information you’ve learned from your research on Alaska, draw the Inukshuk you built in an Alaskan landscape. Then take a photograph of your Inukshuk to submit as an artifact.
Don’t forget to place this completed activity/product into the pocket of your white Journey into Reading envelope.

Return to North America