The Story of Thunderbird and Killerwhale (Grade 3/4)

These lessons were part of a larger unit on salmon in a Grade 3/4 classroom.  This mini unit is intended to introduce students to the variety of ways artists may choose to represent similar subjects or stories. By viewing and analyzing three prints from the Salish Weave Box Sets, learners will see how artists use the Coast Salish design motifs in different variations to create representations of the local Thunderbird and Killerwhale story from Cowichan Valley.  Students will practice their Visual Thinking Strategies as they view and analyze the prints.  They will also hear different versions of this story from the perspective of each artist.  Finally learners will create their own Coast Salish version of a Thunderbird or Killerwhale.  Suggestions for different media or learning extentions have been provided. (Lesson designed by Becky Greenhow, Cowichan School District 79).

Time required:  5 – 45 minute class sessions


At the end of these lessons, students will be able to:

  • Identify elements and animals in contemporary Coast Salish prints.
  • Understand that symbolism is a way of creating, representing, and communicating meaning.
  • Compare and contrast how different artists may represent the same subject or story.
  • Understand the relationship between environment, natural resources, and tradition in Coast Salish cultures (specifically in the Cowichan Valley).
  • Experiment with a variety of design elements to create a Coast Salish Thunderbird or Killerwhale.