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Cardboard Tube Totem Poles

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thunderbird wings

Tube Totem Poles

Make Paper Totem Poles with cardboard tubes.

  • saran wrap
  • paper towels
  • aluminum foil
  • toilet paper rolls

Build your own unique totem pole.

  • Cut out and color your totem pole characters
  • Paste or tape the cutouts onto the tubes

Stack the Tubes

To stack the tubes, make small 1/4" to 1/2" snips along the edges of the tops of each tube that is to hold a top tube or section. This allows the bottom tube to fold inward slightly to allow the top tube to slide over the bottom tube with a fairly tight fit, which makes the tube easily stacked.

The pole patterns in the Collage page are pre-sized to fit over most toilet paper, paper towel or gift wrap cardboard tubes.

Cardboard Base Tube Holders

  • For a strong base, locate heavy weight vellum bristol paper (card stock)
  • Cut two strips each about 1" inch high and at least 4" wide
  • Cut each cardboard strip down the centers at least 1/2"
  • Invert each strip
  • Insert the two slots together to make the "X" shaped stand to hold the pole tubes upright.

Assemble Cardboard Base

To set the base pole section onto the "X" stand.

  • cut 1/4" to 1/2" slits into the bottom tube exactly where each arm of the "X" meets the bottom edge of the base tube (centered over the X)
  • fit the centered base slots over the "X" and they should fit together nice and snug and provide balance for the stack of totem

Soft Tubes Totem Poles

Totempole craft patterns and templates may be used for teaching children a variety of crafty skills. These coloring book patterns can easily be applied to scroll saw woodworking to make splendid wooden ornaments and decorations. Totem designs can just as easily be used for embroidery, needlepoint, crochet and other cloth artwork or make impressive-looking latch-hook rugs and wall hangings.

  • wall hangings
  • fun awards
  • tree ornaments
  • pillow decorations
  • window decals
  • printable magnets
  • table centerpieces, place mats
  • Cup holders

Trace the Collage totem pole patterns onto multicolored foam sheets or colorful felt cloth and cut out with scissors, then glue onto paper tubes to create soft totems.

Create treasured gifts and family heirlooms to hand down to future generations with needlework and embroidery on pillows or tapestry.

Apply these patterns to glass etching techniques or creatively sponge paint stenciling designs to trim your walls or ceramics or decorate wooden furniture.

fog salmon woman

Making Child-Size Totem Poles

Common Realms: Earth, Sky and Water

All realms of existence (water, earth, sky, and the land of beyond) were interconnected. Spiritual beings were thought to have the ability to pass among the three realms.

These definitions are commonly attributed to the birds, fish, animals, people and mythological creatures used in Western tribal arts. Some tribes may have different meanings.

Meanings of Symbols and Totem Pole Creatures

There are only three kingdoms or spiritual realms in totem pole folklore:

  • Tlingit beaver and frogEarth Realm characters include animals such as bears, beavers and wolves, who walk on land.
  • Sky Realm characters primarily include Thunderbirds, eagles and ravens.kwakiutl pole thunderbird
  • Underwater World characters are powerful beings who live deep within whirlpools under the sea.killer clam

Materials and Tools for Child-Size Totem Poles

Apply these patterns to glass etching techniques or creatively sponge paint stenciling designs to trim your walls or ceramics or decorate wooden furniture.

Thomas Elementary Art Blogspot has a wonderful lesson plan for totem pole projects here for 4th grade  teachers

Common Household Products

ears selectionSome basic materials to choose from:

With imagination, you can use practically anything around the house

Types of pole designs you could make include walking sticks, wall hangings, signs, masks, hanging mobiles, houses or lodges, greeting cards, costumes, or poles!

Poles or stackable items could include:

  • Oatmeal carton
  • PCV Pipe
  • yard stick
  • dowel
  • shoe boxes
  • popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
  • milk cartons
  • egg cartons
  • toilet paper tubes
  • gift wrap tubes
  • saran wrap, paper towel or aluminum foil tubes
  • printable paper pumpkin patterns stencils
  • heavy-duty paper or cardboard
  • with permission you could even decorate a flag pole or telephone pole!

bear claw hands totem parts

Print, color and cut out these totem pole parts to create new and interesting totem pole people and creatures. Use the printable blank log formats to create totem poles that are uniform in size and shape for easier assembly.

Make foam Totem pole decorations. Trace the designs onto multi-color fun craft foam sheets to create colorful soft masks and pole characters. Use the left over trimmings of foam pieces to fill in empty space between totem characters or create your own cut and paste designs and shapes for your totem or masks.

Make totem pole families, Thunderbird and Grizzly Bear and other character magnet totem tokens for children to trade and share. Print onto transparent window decals and make totem pole car decorations.

Color totem characters with Crayola Crayons or Magic markers. Make permanent or long-lasting ornaments that can be used as unique gifts for relatives and friends.

All designs suitable to print on one sheet of regular or heavy duty 8 1/2" x 11" paper. Landscape mode on the printer produces the largest possible version of the image (for most printers. For extra large prints such as 11" x 17" and larger, visit the local Staples or other quickie print shops in your area.

Totem Pole Parts

Cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls, paper towels, aluminum foil, saran wrap, etc., make great bases for children to create paper totem poles.

Mix and Match

Collect toilet paper and paper towel tubes to create kid-size totem poles. Arts and craft stores also sell packs of new, never used colorful tubes sized. The craft images in the TP pole section are designs to fit on paper towel tubes, tp tubes and gift wrap tubes.

Mix and match, print, color and tape or paste these paper mask feathers, flowers, paper hair and beards and other decorations onto your favorite color book totem pole mask.

You can also decorate your totem poles or masks with paper, beads, fabric, glue, paint, glitter, ribbon, yarn, tape, cotton balls, feathers. Apply these patterns to glass etching or creative sponge paint stencil templates to trim walls, ceramics or decorate wooden furniture.

  • Some Mediums & Tools to keep handy for the creative process.
    • Scissors
    • Glue, paste or tape (regular or double-stick), stapler
    • multiple colored sheets of construction paper (red, green, blue, black, white, purple, yellow)
    • Carving knives (for pumpkins or gourd carving)
    • Colorful Markers - fine to thick point
    • Wax Crayons - stock up around school sales
    • Water color sets - and plastic tablecloths
    • Chalk - many colors
    • Colored pencils - many colors
    • Tempura finger paints - primary colors - mixing to discover is half the fun
    • Paint brushes - fine tip to standard school size child's brush size at least.
    • Straws - paper not plastic
    • Tooth picks - age appropriate
    • Sponges - cut into shapes or purchase for blotting paint shapes
    • Needlepoint, embroidery thread and stretcher hoops
    • Puffy paint and glitter - to draw words, images and shapes on cloth
    • Wine corks
    • Celluclay - A handy pulverized paper product that resembles clay for paper mache'
    • Modeling clay - reusable, come in colors, good for making molds
    • Pottery clay - Only if you expect to use a kiln
    • Silicon molds and release spray
    • Wooden shapes - to paint for ornaments and gifts
    • Decal sheets for window decals
    • Cloth scrap pieces left overs from sewing
    • Clay modeling tools - ll sorts, combs, forks, dental picks, anything to make interesting cuts and patterns
    • Plain tee shirts

Apply these patterns to glass etching techniques or creatively sponge paint stenciling designs to trim your walls or ceramics or decorate wooden furniture.

Trace the totempole patterns onto multicolored foam sheets or colorful felt cloth to create soft totems and ethnic theme masks. Create treasured gifts and family heirlooms to hand down to future generations with needlework and embroidery on pillows or tapestry.

Depending upon how creative or intricate your project, you can use practically anything around the house to create home-made totem pole with children.

Make beautiful eye-catching stunning and colorful sun catchers for the windows. Save the images to your computer and pre-color the images to print onto window decal, magnet sheets and iron-on transfer "paper" or material which is available at any office supply store. Children will enjoy decorating the windows of the home or car with easily removable and transparent window decals. Make Thunderbird and Grizzley Bear and other character magnet totem tokens for children to trade and share.

Print and color these totem characters with Crayola Crayons or Magic markers. Laminate your favorite paper decorations to make permanent or long-lasting ornaments that can be used as unique gifts for relatives and friends.