I have done the totem poles several different ways. One is a bit more complicated than the other, because there is more surface area to design. I save this for years that I have smaller numbers. We start the lesson by reading Raven by Gerald McDermott. On small pieces of scratch paper, I have them design their totem pole faces. I put up lots of images typical of the Pacific Northwest Indians. We talk about the carved images and how some are images of local animals and some depict ancestors and spirit helpers. It is thought that the totem pole places the most important figures on top, hence the term "low man on the totem pole". Many years ago it was thought that the poles were objects of worship, this is however not true. Totem poles are carved to recount legends, clan lineage, or notable events, but mostly for the artistry. In our version, the 3-D totem poles are great for symmetry design, all cut construction paper. The bottom version, has some construction paper cutting but is done mostly with black sharpie and art sticks or colored pencils. I do both types of totem poles with 2nd grade, giving them 3, 50 minute art days. If you are doing the 3-D version with larger classes, you might allow for 4 days.