Tin Can Totem Poles

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Tin Can Totem Poles
Total Time 1 to 2 hours Ages school-age

Nothing sets the mood at summer camp like a totem pole, especially one flickering in the light of a bonfire. Make a tin can version for your backyard camp by painting your family portraits on coffee cans.

What you'll need

  • MATERIALS FOR A 5-PERSON TOTEM POLE
  • 5 coffee cans, each with 2 plastic lids that fit
  • Can opener
  • Water-based exterior paints in a variety of colors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • 4 clear plastic milk or water jugs, emptied and cleaned
  • Marker
  • Liquid laundry detergent bottle, empty and cleaned
  • Wooden dowel 7/8 inch in diameter and 48 inches long
  • Duct tape

How to make it

  1. First, cut the bottom off each coffee can with a can opener, then give a can to each person to paint his or her portrait on.

  2. While the paint is drying, choose the can that you want to put on top of your totem pole and set 1 of its 2 lids to the side. Use a craft knife to cut a quarter-size asterisk in the center of each of the other lids, then set the lids aside.

  3. Tin Can Totem Poles - Step 3

    Next, use scissors to cut the ridged spout from each plastic jug (recycle the rest of the jug) and set aside the spouts.

  4. Tin Can Totem Poles - Step 4

    Finally, draw the wings on the detergent bottle, as shown, and cut them out (recycle the rest of the bottle).

  5. Tin Can Totem Poles - Step 5

    Once the cans are dry, place a lid on the top and bottom of each, using the uncut lid for the top of the can that will crown your totem pole. As shown in the diagram at left, wrap a thick layer of duct tape about 6 inches from the bottom end of the dowel, then add the cans, jug spouts, and wings.

  6. Place the finished totem pole in your yard by pushing the dowel into the ground.

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