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Haiku in Color

Haiku is a "snapshot" of words, often related to nature or seasons. This poetry may not rhyme, but briefly captures a moment in time.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. Students read haiku poetry orally in books such as "Haiku Picturebook for Children" by Keisuke Nishimot. This book includes classic haiku poems written by Japan's most famous writers. Also read "Spring: A Haiku Story" by George Shannon. Discuss how the beautiful illustrations enhance the poetry. Ask students what they notice about the poems?
    2. What is a syllable? Students count the syllables in a few of the haiku poems they read. Haiku contains just 17 syllables, in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. The poems are usually about nature or seasons.
    3. In small groups, students brainstorm what nature or seasonal topic they could write a haiku about. Think small--one bird, not a flock, or one snowflake falling, not a snowstorm. Students write a haiku on a white board with Crayola Dry-Erase Markers. Count the syllables! If there are too many, just erase and change the words!
    4. Give the haiku a title. Add a simple picture to illustrate it. Circle the nature word or phrase in the poem. Students share their poetry with the class!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Wabi Sabi by Mark Weibstein; I Haiku You by Betsy E. Snyder; Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw.

    Students research the origins, format, and history of haiku poetry. Prior to creating an original haiku poem, students will decide upon a nature topic to focus on and make a list of descriptors that can be applied to this focus. Students practice their original haiku poems and present them to classmates.

    A poetry form also organized by a syllable count is tanka, an ancient form of Japanese poetry. Tanka are 31-syllable poems that have been the most popular form of poetry in Japan for at least 1300 years. In Japanese, tanka is often written in one straight link, but in English and other languages it is usually divided into five lines with these syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. Students read Cricket Never Does: A Collection of Haiku and Tanka by Myra Cohn Livingston. Students write original tanka poetry.

    Senryu, another form of poetry, is witty and the subject is usually people. Students read Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko. Students write and illustrate original senryu poetry.


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