Birch bark once provided the only natural source of paper for Indigenous people on Turtle Island (what many of us now refer to as North America).

The traditional practice of birch bark biting is one of the oldest known forms of Indigenous art.  It was practiced predominantly by women, who would carefully fold and bite intricate patterns into subsequent layers of birch bark; when unfolded, this technique would reveal beautiful symmetrical designs and symbols that were used as patterns to decorate clothing and other items.  Students fold and cut using scissors to create symmetrical patterns that will be transferred onto scratch foam.  Students print this design onto paper decorated to look like real birch.

Learning outcomes:

Students will:

  • Be inspired by patterns and subject matter found in traditional and contemporary Birch Bark Biting artwork.  Students are challenged to create their own contemporary mixed media art piece that pays homage to the Indigenous people who respectfully gather and use materials from the natural world to create art without harming or destroying the land. Teachers will experience land based learning concepts used by Indigenous artists.

Curriculum Links:

First Nations, Métis and Inuit: Indigenous identities, connections, expressions, preservation, protocol, Elder and Knowledge Keeper oral histories and land-based learning.

Art: Reflection, depiction, composition and expression; form and function

Social: The land, histories and stories of Alberta

Science: Plant growth and change; Wetland ecosystems; Trees and Forests; Physical geography of Canada

Math: Pattern and repetition, symmetry, positive and negative space

Suggested field trips to pair with:

First Nations, Métis and Inuit at the Musée Héritage Museum

In-School Field Trip:

In-School Field Trip: Due to the amount of supplies required for our Indigenous Visual Art programs, we require you to book two or three classes of the same program on the same day.

Kindly email or call 780 459 1163 for more information regarding booking an in-school field trip.

Preparation for In-School Field Trip:

We require a large room with paper-covered tables and access to a sink for the whole day if offering more than one in-school field trip in a day.  Your instructor will arrive 30 minutes early to set up the room and prepare for the field trip start time indicated on your confirmation letter.  Parent volunteers are required to assist instructors with handing out supplies and clean up.

In-School Fees:

  • $8.75 per student (minimum class fee of $140 based on 16 students)
  • Added travel fee of $60.00 for St. Albert and $90.00 for Edmonton (Please request a quote for all outlying areas)

Studio Fees:

  • $8.75 per student (minimum class fee of $140 based on 16 students)


We’ll send an invoice to your school within one month—please don’t bring your payment to the workshop.

Please make cheques payable to Arts and Heritage St. Albert. Include invoice numbers and mail to:
Arts and Heritage St. Albert, Suite #200
20 Perron Street
St. Albert, AB  T8N 1E4

For account inquiries, contact us at 780-459-1163 or

Information and Policies


Total Time

1.5 hours


Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Curriculum Link

Art, Creative Expression, Cultural, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, math, Science, Social Studies


In-school field trip, Visual Arts Studios, St. Albert Place