Team Totems

Team Totems lesson plan

Express your team spirit and unique personal style! Create a replica of a traditional totem pole as a get-to-know-you project!

  • 1.

    Totem poles are traditional among Native American clans who live along the Northwest Pacific Coast of what is now the United States and Canada. Research how their totem poles are carved. Find out about some of the traditional images used, such as ravens, beavers, whales, and thunderbirds. Many symbols signify characteristics of which families are proud.

  • 2.

    With a small group of classmates, discuss your interests, skills, and favorites to discover common themes, such as soccer, dogs, video games, or crafting. Sketch some possibilities for symbols to represent your team’s ideas with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils.

  • 3.

    Together, decorate one small snack tube with Crayola Model Magic. Use symbols for the common themes your team discovered about each other. Mix colors if you like, or knead just a little for a marbled effect. Model Magic fresh from the pack sticks to itself.

  • 4.

    Team members each personalize a totem pole section on separate snack tubes. Show your favorite things to express your individuality!

  • 5.

    Place small rings of Model Magic between sections. Stack them on top of each other and press together to make one totem. In the oral tradition, explain your Team Totem to other teams in the class.


  • • Children research traditional totem poles created by Native Americans of the Pacific coastal areas of North America. </P>
  • • Children seek commonalities to choose a team theme and identify symbols for this theme and their own interests. </P>
  • • Students create a replica of a totem that depicts their team theme as well as celebrating unique individual traits. </P>


  • • Use your totem poles to introduce each other. Interview each other in pairs and then introduce your partner to the class. </P>
  • • Create a totem pole with traditional symbols. Explain or write about the meaning of each image. </P>
  • • Paint a picture of an ornate totem pole, and then recreate it with Model Magic. </P>
  • • Assessment: Observe student teams for collaboration and problem-solving skills. In the presentations, look for details to be presented about both the group and individuals. Expect new friendships to emerge as students discover connections. </P>