Totem Pole Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

With this lesson plan and materials from, you'll have all you need to help students fully appreciate the historical and cultural importance of totem poles to the peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to do the following:

  • find the meanings carves into totem poles
  • describe the major features to be found on a totem pole


40 minutes plus 30 minutes for activity

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Key Terms

  • Totem pole
  • Ojibwa
  • Heraldic columns


Printed copy of the text lesson


Ask students if they know about their great-grandparents. What about their great-great grandparents? How much do they know about their family history? How do they know it?

Read the lesson Native American Totem Poles: Definition & Styles with students, then discuss the following questions:

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