Story Totem Poles

These session are VERY popular. We start by writing a story together. Choosing a character, what happens etc. I write it down on large sheets of paper as we go along. When completed we divide the story up into sections that can be illustrated using cardboard boxes. I go round cutting holes and shapes to add to the boxes while the children do the painting, using their own ideas as well as mine. They usually work in groups of three per box. At the end of the session (lunchtime or end of school) I will outline the paintings and assemble the totem poles in the right order. Story totem poles are like a memory jogger to telling stories. Children can be encouraged to tell the story using their own words either orally or written down using the totem poles as a visual reminder.

Here's an example done with a year two class. It's about a magical snake called Sassy who lives in a hole in the lawn. She sneaks inside the house and eats some of the cat's mouse pie. The cat isn't too pleased and tries to eat Sassy but gets eaten by Sassy instead. The cat doesn't taste very good so Sassy goes for a lie down in the washing machine. Then she does a big burp and sicks up (!) the cat who promptly eats her! Unfortunately, as Sassy is a magic snake, the cat turns green and starry!

Number of children + Up to 30
Age range + Years 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Session length + A whole morning or a whole afternoon
Materials required + Cardboard boxes. Plain brown ones are best as they are the easiest to paint. Avoid ones with glossy photographs on them for that reason. They need to be whole in order to make a solid cube i.e with the lid flaps intact. I need enough for one per three children plus a couple of extras to cut up. That usually means about 10. Size is less important but 1 x 2 ft upwards is the best. Bear in mind if they are too massive they will be too high for the class room once assembled. The photos above are a good guide.
+ paints in various colours (powder or bottle depending on what you have at school).
+ scissors
+ A couple of big sheets of paper for me to write out the story.
+ Some sort of easel would be useful or some flat wall space as a surface for me to write out the story.

Another example...