Inuksuk Stone Statues

Inuksuk Stone Statues lesson plan

How do people communicate when the landscape is as barren and forbidding as Arctic tundra? Make a stone message board Inuit-style.

  • 1.

    What happens when two people get together? They talk. People like to share what they know. They talk about what is important to them. Communicating-by talking, writing notes, or using a cell phone, is easy today for most people. It was far more difficult on the sparse, snowy landscape of Northern Canada near the Arctic circle. To get messages to each other, the Inuit people began an ancient tradition in their homeland-they built Inuksuks.

  • 2.

    Stone statues were used as signposts to tell others about good fishing areas. Some statues helped people navigate across tundra. Others marked storage caches. The Inuksuk was traditionally made of stones that fit precisely together. Inuksuks are considered to be sacred and must never be destroyed. Many have been in place for a very long time. Their meanings are unique to their location and design. Find pictures of these stone statues in books or on the Internet.

  • 3.

    To create a stone-like material, mix white Crayola® Model Magic with aquarium gravel in a recycled foam produce tray. The graininess of the stone depends on how much gravel you add to the Model Magic.

  • 4.

    Flatten the Model Magic into slabs with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Cut the slab into several rock-like shapes with a plastic dinner knife. Dry overnight.

  • 5.

    Decide on the purpose and placement of your Inuksuk. Do you want it to announce that you passed this way? Are you making a memorial for a lost pet? Guiding friends to a special place? Or welcoming visitors into your room?

  • 6.

    Assemble your Inuksuk on a recycled foam produce tray. For example, pile the stones so that several point one direction. Or make a "window" of stones through which a viewer can look. Glue the stones in place with Crayola School Glue. Dry.

  • 7.

    See whether you and your classmates can figure out what message each other's stones show.


  • Students research an ancient form of communication practiced by the Inuit people of Northern Canada.
  • Students explore how to communicate through Inuksuk stone statues without the use of written language.
  • Students create their own sculpted tools of communication.


  • Children who have special needs may benefit from doing this as a class learning activity. Pre-literate students will appreciate its communication possibilities.
  • Make an Inuksuk circle of friendship. Stand each student's Inuksuk facing others in a circle.
  • An Inuksuk is the central motif on the flag of Canada's newest territory, Nunavut. Find out about this territory. Study its flag of blue, gold, and red. Learn what the colors and symbols mean to Nunavut's inhabitants.
  • What other world cultures built stone structures? When were they built? What were their meanings and uses?