Language Arts Lesson: Fun Haiku Poetry
By Marilyn Capicotta, Teaching PreK-8
…..three lines, no rhymes
..kids love it
The above briefly sums up my experience with haiku. I learned from a haiku master that haiku didn’t have to follow the five syllables for the first line, seven for the second and five for the third line. He suggested that the first and third have two strong beats and the second line three strong beats that can be varied. You can forget all about too many poetry rules which inhibit the imagination.
All you’ll need to teach haiku is lined and blank paper, regular pencils, colored pencils, crayons or markers for inspiration and lots of enthusiasm. You may want your students to sit in front of an easel so you can write a haiku together and get more comfortable with the form. Since many haiku poems are written about nature, taking a walk in the outdoors may be helpful to your students for finding subjects.
I like to begin my lesson with reading famous haiku poems. I love In the Eyes of the Cat: Japanese Poetry for All Seasons by Demi (Henry Holt, 1994) and Cool Melons – Turn to Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa by Matthew Gollub (Lee and Low, 2004), and also haiku written by kids. Note that images used in the writing come from the senses, memory and fantasy. Children will love it when they find out that capitalization, punctuation, rhyming and titles are not usually used in haiku. Drawing their subject will help to keep students focused.
Try writing a haiku by modeling for the class. Place a large poster-sized piece of paper on your easel and draw a picture of a snowy hill and kids sledding down the hill (you can also just show a picture rather than drawing). Ask the kids for winter sensory words they think of when looking at the illustration. For example, snow, white, hill, laughing, screaming, swishing, fun, happy friends, cold, etc.
In the first line, describe the scene – “children sledding and sliding.” The second could tell where – “on a snow-covered hill.” The third line could describe the feeling – “screaming, laughing, yelling.”
children sledding and sliding
on a snow-covered hill
screaming, laughing, yelling
After this example, ask your students to write in haiku form and imagine somewhere or something they love, like a favorite swimming place, fishing or riding a bike. When every child has completed his or her poem, have a sharing session. Students can then illustrate their haiku and publish a class book for your library. Writing haiku is a wonderful activity to allow reflective time for both you and your students. Enjoy!
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