Teaching Haiku – Japanese Poetry for Kids

Haiku, traditional Japanese poetry, consists of three verses of seventeen syllables. It has a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. When teaching this type of poem to kids, focus on nature and imagery.

Ms. Sneed Prepares for Teaching a New Type of Poetry – Haiku

Our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her student teacher. “To continue our unit on types of poetry,” she said, “it’s time for some haiku.”

“Ah, Japanese poetry,” Mr. Grow replied. “So enlightening.”

“You’re right. When our students write haiku, they’ll focus on nature instead of the usual elements of poetry. Hopefully, they will be able to effectively use imagery.”

Providing an Example of Haiku

Ms. Sneed rustled around in her teaching bag. Then she pulled out a few papers for teaching haiku. “First,” she said, “you can provide an example. Here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago:

New growth pushes up

Forcing old, dead things away –

Oh! Circle of life.

“With this poetry, you can emphasize how haiku generally focuses on nature. Furthermore, you can discuss imagery, and how the poetry should stir something in them. Perhaps it’s nostalgia.”

“Hmm,” Mr. Grow responded. “Maybe we can discuss things they remember with fondness. That might help them generate some writing topics.”

“Good idea,” said Ms. Sneed.

When teaching Haiku poetry, begin with an example.

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Teaching Format

Next, she slid a paper with the format of Haiku across the table. “After they get a feel for the purpose of Haiku, you can discuss the format. Although it’s a short poem, it offers great feeling. Just three verses and 22 syllables. The first line has five syllables. Then the second has seven; and the third, five again.

When teaching Haiku poetry to fourth and fifth grade kids, provide them with a straightforward structure. Line 1 has 5 syllables; line 2, 7; and line 3, 5.

Writing Haiku Poetry

Finally, Ms. Sneed pointed to a writing template. “To give kids the support they need, you’ll use this haiku template. However, before they begin writing, you should practice syllabication.”

The mentor clapped her hands to demonstrate. “Hai – ku. Two syllables. Po-e-try. Three syllables. Although we’ve worked on this before, some students will need practice. You can also show them how to add or subtract unimportant words to get the syllables right.”

“You mean like articles – a, an, and the?”

Ms. Sneed nodded her head. “Yep.”

To assist kids in writing haiku, provide an annotated template.

Enjoy Teaching

Mr. Grow smiled. “After teaching couplets, limericks, diamante, and cinquain, this type of poetry seems like a snap. The more I learn, the more I enjoy teaching.”

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