Whale in the Sky

by Anne Siberell

Lesson Plan

Sara Westenskow




  • Objectives

    The students will listen to a story and then create a similar story of their own.
  1. The students will gain a better understanding that a story starts at the top of the page and reads from left to right.

    The students will have a greater understanding of Native Americans and why they build totem poles.

  • Materials

    Book, Whale in the Sky by Anne Siberell
  1. Cardboard paper towel rolls that have been painted or covered with paper. They can all be different colors or they can all be brown.

    Totem pole type faces on a sheet that the children can cut out and glue on.

    Glue, Scissors, & Crayons


  • Introduction

    First I will read the book Whale in the Sky. Then, we will talk about the story, what happened and how it relates to the totem pole that is built at the end of the story.
  1. I will then show them the totem pictures and ask them what they look like.

    Then I will ask them to make up a story that involves the three totem pictures. (This may require a little bit of teacher direction.)

    I will then write the story on the chalk board helping them fill in the words that may be lacking.

    Then, we will read the story together as a class a couple of times.

    We will then talk about how we are going to make a totem pole that will tell the story that we have just created.

  • Modeling

    I will then walk them through making a totem pole by making one for them.
  1. Make sure the instructions are clear

    First, color the pictures (emphasize that when they color to use lots of colors and to color the details,)

    Then cut out (throw scraps away.)

    When they are to this point, they can come and get their pole.

    Then put the glue on the totem pole not the back of the picture (so the pictures will stick out a little bit) and then write your name etc.)

    I will dismiss the children by having them say the color words one at a time.

  • Practice

    The children will then create their own totem pole by following the previous instructions.
  1. I will have the book out so that they can see the pictures of the totem poles in the book.

    I will also put up our chart of Indian Legends so that they can include them on the wings of the eagle if they would like to.

  • Application

    After we have made our totem poles we will talk more about how they fit into the Native American culture.
  1. I will talk them through a book called Totem Pole by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith. In this book a little boy follows through the process of making a totem pole with an Indian Tribe. (It's a little above Kindergarten level so I would just explain about the pictures.)

    There is also a Video Called Totem Poles available at the Orem Public Library. I would show them clips of it so they could better understand why Indians make totem poles and how they do it.Assessment

  • The students will show their understanding by answering questions in a discussion about totem poles.

    They will also be able to tell the shell of the story that we wrote by looking at their totem pole.


    • Resources

      The Whale in the Sky by Anne Siberell

      Totem Pole by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

      Totem Pole Video- Available at the Orem Public Library

    • Other Activities
  • Science- You could study the migration of whales. If I did this in a kindergarten, it would be a very simple activity, but older grades just might really get into it. You could also study their eating patterns.

    Science- You could also study eagles and their strength. I have no doubt that they are not strong enough to lift a whale, but some children may not know that so it would be fun to discover if it is possible or not.

    Math- With this same idea you could really work with the weights and compare and contrast the weight of different animals to the weight that an eagle can actually lift.

    Writing- You could have each child create their own story and then create their own totem faces to go with their story. They could then have their own personalized totem pole. Again, I probably wouldn't do this with real youg kids.

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