I have done a printmaking project using totem poles for inspiration. Of
course, I go through much preliminary discussion of the culture, etc.
which I won't go into here as you've already gotten at least one other
postng with useful information. The process of the project is to design
some kind of totem symbol (I sometimes focus more on mask images, and can
add such elements as symmetry, etc.) which is then executed in a relief
style by cutting and gluing pieces of tagboard. I give them a square of
tagboard for the base, to begin with, to somewhat control the size of the
images. i usually have them cover the masks with polymer medium (or glue
and water mixture), as it helps to adhere all the shapes. The more
overlapping, the more interesting the final image. This process takes
one class period. The next class period the students make prints using
brayers and block printing ink. I have them make individual prints as
well as a large print (face upon face, totem pole style) on a large piece
of mural paper. On day three, the printboards are enhanced with craypas
and/or acrylic paint, and various collage items like yarn, etc. The
printboards can then be stapled together onto a large dowel rod,
cardboard tube, board, or whatever is handy, to create a totem pole.
Other things could be added to it, as well. I have also had them add
details to the mural collage with craypas, markers, or other materials.
I've done this with first, second, and third grade children at various
times, always with wonderful results. This process can be used with
other subject matter, as well.