Make a Set of Totem Pole Banks from Cans and Duct Tape

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

We like to up the earning in the summer time for the kids so that they can have opportunities to purchase souvenirs on trips as well as learn a bit more about money, saving and giving. It also helps to fill the days with productivity a bit more as they are trying to earn “tickets” (which then are cashed in for money at the end of the week) by doing chores and errands.


To make this experience more fun we recently made a set or totem pole banks for the kids (something I’ve wanted to do ever since this post) and they have been so fun! The kids have also enjoyed learning about the origin of totem poles as well (something they have been curious about ever since our trip to Disneyland and the Tiki Room).


We made it so that each can on the pole had a different spot for money to be divided into. 1. To Spend, 2. To Save 3. To Give. It’s helped to get the idea of saving for the future as well as charitable giving across a bit better – something that is great for kids to learn. We’ve also loved watching how an item means more to them when purchased with money they earned from hard work. (Jon has them vacuuming up every little crack in the house and it’s great!).


To make these you will need:

  • 3 cans (I find that a majority of grocery cans come in standard sizes and can be stacked)
  • duct tape
  • utility knife for cutting
  • low temp hot glue and gun (for glueing on wings, noses, etc.)

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

  1. Begin by taking off the label from your can and choosing an assortment of duct tape colors
  2. Have an adult cut a slit from the top of the can lid – large enough to insert dollars and coins into
  3. Cover your can with a solid color of duct tape and then create a face with additional duct tape, paper, cardboard, etc. for wings, noses, ears and the like.
  4. You now have one bank ready for saving!
  5. Continue to decorate 2 more cans in fun and silly ways for spending and giving. When you are done it’s time to stack your totem pole!

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

As a theater teacher Jon’s off for the summer (the silver lining to a teachers salary :)) so he’s helped to start a full blown work routine for the kids in the morning. It’s not been without it’s moments (whining, crying, full blown protests on the floor) but the kids are starting to see the benefit of work (at least the spending it and fun play after work part) and are slowing getting used to a routine that asks a bit more from then than they originally wanted for summer break. Don’t get me wrong – we’re all about the slow parenting thing and want to take our summer easy but we also want our kids to value work and learn about money and think summer is a great time for this. And then after the floors are mopped there’s plenty of time for lazy naps in the grass, fishing, and eating cotton candy and zooming on rids at our Art City small town fair!



  1. Reply


    June 12, 2015

    Oh my goodness! I have been wanting to do a totem pole project former and this has just satisfied that design itch. These are amazing!!!

    • Reply


      June 12, 2015

      oh yay! Ana xoxo (you should totally do one too though!)


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