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Learn from Home – First Peoples of Canada

Here are some at-home activities you can do, inspired by MOA’s Summer Day Camp: Canada’s First Peoples


Clay Dough Totem Poles(Age: 5+)

The First Nations people of Canada use totem poles as monuments to represent and honour ancestry, people, history, or events. They are usually assembled from red cedar, and display symbolic crest animals, humans, or supernatural forms.

In this activity, an adult is needed to make this simple homemade clay dough. Kids can use the clay dough to sculpt 3 or 4 miniature animal totems that they think best represent them into a pole. A list of possible totems is included at the bottom to get your creativity juices flowing.

Here are two possible recipes:


3 C all purpose flour

3 packages of unsweetened powdered drink mix (this is used for colour)

½ C salt

3 tbsp cooking oil

2 C water


1. Mix together flour, drink mix, and salt in a big bowl.

2. Stir in the cooking oil and water.

3. Place the mixture on a frying pan. Cook on medium high heat until dough

thickens and pulls away from the pan. Turn the ball of dough over and cook until it feels compact and solid enough for moulding.

4. Remove from pan and knead until is a consistent doughy mass. Be very careful,

the dough is very hot!

5. Store in plastic bags or air-tight containers.




1 C all purpose flour

½ C salt

2 tsp cream of tartar (this is an important ingredient)

1 C water

1 tbsp cooking oil

food colouring of your choice


1. In a saucepan, mix together flour, salt, and cream of tartar.

2. Add water, cooking oil, and food colouring to the mixture.

3. Cook the mixture in a frying pan set on medium high, stirring for a minimum of

3 minutes or until mixture pulls away from the pan. It is better to overcook because the dough will not set if it is too wet or gooey.

4. Remove from pan and knead immediately. Careful, the dough is very hot!

5. Store in air-tight containers. May be refrigerated, but not necessary.


Totem Pole Animals and their Meanings

Ant: Group minded, determined, patient, active, and industrious

Bear: instinctive, healing, power, courage, willpower, and great strength.

Beaver: Determined, strong-willed, builder, overseer, and protector

Butterfly: Metamorphosis, transformation, grace, ability to accept change

Cat: Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, and independence

Dog: Noble, faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, and guidance.

Dolphin: Kind, wisdom, happiness, playfulness, prudent, and happy.

Dragonfly: Flighty and carefree, strong imagination, higher aspirations.

Elephant: Strength, power, affection, loyalty, royalty, and wisdom

Fish: Graceful, slyness, open-minded, quick to change one’s mind.

Horse: Freedom, stamina, mobility, the land, travel, power, and freedom.

Lion: Family, strength, energy, courage, guardian and protector.

Owl: Deception, clairvoyance, insight, messenger.

Penguin: Self-discipline, grace, self-confidence, spiritual

Prairie Dog: Swiftness, industrious, constructive, preparedness

Rabbit: Fear, timidity, nervousness, humility, rebirth

Snake: Impulsive, shrewdness, rebirth, transformation, initiation, and wisdom

Spider: Balance, wisdom, creativity, communication

Swan: Grace, balance and innocence, soul, love, beauty, of the self

Turtle: Nurturer, shy, and protecting

Wolf: Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit

Zebra: Agility and individuality


Sources Used: TPWD Texas. Legends of America.

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