In this unit, student artists study art made by Indigenous Cultures around the world. They learn that the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest believed that totem animals could represent traits of a person, a family, or a tribe. They chose an animal to represent themselves. They plan their compositions and draw them, plan out their colors and paint them, then finish by learning about visual texture, drawing implied texture on their image, and finishing with a final layer of paint.

Scope & Sequence:


Lesson 1: In this lesson, student artists are introduced to totem animals: animals that guide or protect. The decide to draw a portrait of either themselves or a loved one as an animal. In this first lesson they roughly draw their chosen animals on a large piece of paper.

Lesson 2: In this lesson, students artists create quick ‘color sketches’ to experiment with different color combinations. Then they paint the large shapes according to their plan.

Lesson 3: In this lesson, student artists are given the day to completely cover the white of their painting.

Lesson 4: Student artists learn about different types of texture, and use implied texture to finish their artwork. They have two days to complete their work.

Lesson 5: Student artists have the entire day to finish.

Lesson 6: Optional. a final day for finishing.

(you can preview the first lesson in a project without enrolling by clicking on ‘lesson 1’ above).


The above will take you to a supply list that assumes a class size of 30. Adjust according to your needs. 

Books & Media:


Art Elements: 

line, shape/form, color, texture


Art Principles: 



National Core Visual Art Standards: VA:Cr1.1.4a, VA:Cr2.1.5a, VA:Re.7.1.5a, VA:Re.7.2.4a, VA:Re.7.2.5a, VA:Re8.1.4a, VA:Re8.1.5a, VA:Cn11.1.4a



Language Arts (could study Indigenous cultures and folklore) , Mathematics (patterning), U.S. History (link to a course on Native American populations)


Common Core Standards: 

SL.3.1b, SL.4.1b, SL.5.1b, SL.3.1c, SL.4.1c, SL.5.1c, SL.3.1d, SL.4.2, SL.5.2, SL.3.2, SL.3.3, SL.3.4, SL.4.4, SL.5.4, SL.4.5, SL.5.5, W.4.2, W.5.2, W.4.4, W.5.4, W.6.4, W.3.8



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