How to Create a Totem Pole to Represent Your Family


Explore your family history and craft a Native American-style totem pole. Originally carved from cedar trees, the totem pole is derived from the Ojibwe language and word "odoodem," meaning "his kinship group." This simple craft can be enjoyed by all ages and is great for a family after-school activity, Sunday school craft or school lesson on genealogy. Craft with animals, birds, spirits, celestial signs and other fun stuff to shape your very own totem pole that represents your family.

Things You'll Need

  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Construction paper, brown
  • Paper towel tube
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Explore your family history. Talk to parents and relatives about ancestors and what they might represent. For instance, if you grandfather was in the Army, you can equate him with a warrior or a warrior-like animal or spirit.

  • Choose four ancestors or family members that you would like to represent your family on the totem pole. Explore free printable templates and choose the shape or character that best represents your family. Alternatively, if you are a teacher and have too large a classroom to do this, print several options for the children, present them and let them choose.

  • Re-size each image in your computer's photo-imaging program or word-processing program, if needed; the image should be small enough to fit onto a paper towel tube. Print the four templates of your choice. Color the templates with crayons.

  • Cut a piece of brown construction paper to fit the paper towel tube. Glue onto tube with a glue stick.

  • Decide which order you would like to glue your shapes or characters. Rub the glue stick along the back of your shapes and characters and press them onto the totem pole. Display your totem pole wherever you would like or share it with your family.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are only creating one totem pole, print large templates and glue them onto oatmeal boxes or spheres and stack them on one another to display at home for a big totem pole. You can also use pumpkins to stack, as well.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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