Lesson: An Introduction to
International Haiku
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Grade Level: 2-4
Duration: 1-2 Hours
Subject Areas: Language Arts


bullet Explore the thoughts and feelings of another culture through critical reading of Haiku
bullet Practice creative thinking and writing
Vocabulary and Primary Language Support Poetry, syllable, Season word (kigo), Imagination, Haiku
Teacher’s Resources and Visuals Overhead, pictures, life, music (New Age)
Student Materials Paper, Pen, Life


Anticipatory Set Play New Age or classical music in background. Begin lesson by asking for quiet and complete silence. Show nature slides to class, asking class to ponder each slide as I show it. Tell class we will be coming back to these slides later.

Today we will be writing poetry using one of the most important forms of traditional Japanese poetry- Haiku. Modern Haiku began in the last years of the last century.

It is said that when ten poets (and you are all poets) write, for example, about an ant, the result should be ten different ant poems (haiku). If any of these haiku resemble each other, the poet has only been observing the ant superficially (on the surface). Haiku does not use fancy words.

bullet A haiku must say ten things by presenting only two.
bullet A haiku must make us think and surprise us.
bullet A Haiku presents two similar yet contrasting thoughts.
bullet Seasonal, nature words are very important (Can you give examples). Kigo.
bullet One must use all ones senses and take an interest in things great and small.
bullet Haikus are so short, if you miss one word, you miss the poem.

On a misty day he (the Haiku Master Matso Basho) was walking alone. It was very quiet around an old pond of mossy water, then a frog just leapt into it making a sound. The momentary action and lingering sound reminded him of a moment and eternity. He wrote:

"old pond…

a frog leaps in

water’s sound 1

15 minutes

Instruction Lets read some interesting HAIKU/haiku written by poets around the world.

Turn on Music. Set mood

Close you eyes as I read the poems. Listen to the music and the words.

15 minutes

Before we write haiku, it might be helpful to make a list of Season words. Lets do this (Present overhead)/grid quadrants).

The key to writing Haiku is imagination

bullet imag/ images: usually two of them make for good HAIKU 
bullet /i/ The HAIKU relates to your personal experience. What did you see today that you would like to share?
bullet /nation: Country or Nature. 

An HAIKU has three lines. Line one and two should be different images. Use line three to bring the two images together.

Let me read more examples- then you write. You will be asked to share your Haikus with other members of the class. The Haikus will be placed in a class journal.

15 minutes

Guided Practice Students write HAIKU. Season words may be displayed. Photos may be displayed.

15-20 minutes

Closure Sharing and Critiquing of Haikus

15 minutes

Independent Practice Compose more Haikus for homework. Use more "traditional" haiku as opposed to International HAIKU form.


Assessment Technique Teacher Observation and Collection/reading of writing samples.


1 The translation of Basho's "old pond" haiku is by William J. Higginson, from William J. Higginson with Penny Harter, "The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku," published by Kodansha International; copyright (c) 1985 by William J. Higginson, used by permission of the translator.

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