Haiku as an Introduction to the Academic Year (6-8)



INTRODUCTION:            This lesson is intended as the first in a series of a two to three week poetry unit.  I chose to have the students write haiku poems as they are familiar with the form, the poem is structured by the number of syllables in each line, and they are short, three lines with a total of seventeen syllables.  I felt that this was a great way to get the students thinking about and writing poetry for the first time this year.


Washington State Standards:

WW2:  The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes. 

WW4:  The student analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness of written work.

Students will be able to understand the form necessary to write haiku poems using a rhythmical pattern and free verse rhythm.  Students will have a greater understanding that writing poetry can be non-threatening and fun activity.

MATERIALS:  A sample of four to six haiku poems, either written on the board or copied onto a single sheet of paper with instructions.  Paper and pen/pencil, for beginners a set of pictures distributed to the class to help form images.

PROCEDURES:  Begin the lesson by introducing the history and form of haiku poetry.  Explain that the haiku poem uses syllabics as its form.  Syllabics are defined as a rhythmical pattern, a free verse rhythm.  Share with the students the fact that the Japanese have written haiku poetry for many hundreds of years.    They are often written with a particular season of the year in mind – spring, summer, autumn, or winter and tend to focus on nature.  Often when you get to the end of a haiku there may be a surprise.

          Explain that haikus are only three lines long.  Each line has a specified number of syllables and they total seventeen syllables, and none of the lines rhyme in Japanese or English. 

                    Line 1-------------5 syllables

                    Line 2-------------7 syllables

                    Line 3-------------5 syllables

             Have the students read aloud the samples written on the board.  Have them clap their hands for each syllable.  This will give the students the opportunity to hear and feel the syllables with their ears and hands. 

          At this point, you might distribute pictures to the class with a seasonal emphasis, I did not do this, and I simply asked my students to write two or more poems using the haiku form.  Give the students 15 to 20 minutes to complete the assignment.  Then have the students read aloud their poems for the entire class to hear. 

EVALUATION:  Students read aloud their haiku poems.  Collect poems to be used as part of class anthology of poetry, to be given to their parents as a gift, following the poetry unit.

FOLLOW-UP:  As this was the first lesson in a two to three week poetry unit, I collected all poems after the students read them aloud.  I continued teaching various forms of poetry in the following weeks.  The students were asked to peer edit each other’s poems after the initial writing sessions, for clarity and understanding.  I asked all students to read aloud at least one poem each from their journals, every time we wrote poetry.  I am now in the process of having the students create a cover for their poetry anthology, using torn paper they are to design a mosaic, representing their feelings about their poetry for the cover of the book.  My students will present their anthology to their parents over the winter break. 

REFLECTION:  I feel this was a great way to begin my poetry unit.  The haiku poem was a simple way to use form, rhythm, and pattern to create a free verse piece.  The students did not feel threatened they seemed to enjoy the activity and their creations were wonderful.  Although, they did not all follow the historical nature, seasonal theme as is identified with haiku poetry, they did follow the form and use their imaginations to create great poems.


Coloma, J. & Noethe, S.  (1994).  Poetry Everywhere.  New York:  Teachers and Writers Collaborative.





















































Making an effort to increase student learning by integrating  poetry will help children gain meaningful context to their lives.