What Is Haiku?
Students discover the beautiful simplicity of Haiku poetry through researching, reading, and analyzing its components.
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Students will explore Haiku poetry to enhance their understanding. Students will learn about the origins of Haiku, purpose, and author’s intent. Students will analyze the components of traditional Haiku.
- Respond to creative writing using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes
- Identify literary elements, such as mood and dominant impression
- Employ relevant pre-writing strategies and organizational techniques
- Multiple examples of Haiku poetry
- "What is Haiku?" (PDF)
- Computers with internet access or a large collection of poetry books (try the Haiku Book List)
Set Up and Prepare
- Choose samples of Haiku to read to the class. Try to find old and new poetry.
- Make a class set of copies of "What is Haiku?" (PDF).
- Find sources of Haiku, either from the internet or poetry books, and make them available to your students however best suits your classroom.
Step 1: Review the information gathered during the Who Were the Samuri? internet research lesson of the unit. If a master list was compiled and copied, review or distribute to the students.
Step 2: Ask the students what they learned about Haiku. Responses should include that it is a very old form of poetry, made popular by the Samurai warrior, Basho. Examples of Basho’s Haiku can be found on the internet.
Step 3: Explain that Haiku has gained popularity over the years, and continues to be written all around the world today.
Step 4: Read chosen examples of Haiku to the class. After each example, ask the students what the poem made them think about. Which of the five senses did the poem relate to? This refers to the dominant impression or main idea, of the poem. What kind of mood did the poem set? Ask the students what the poems all seem to have in common.
Step 5: Distribute the handout "What is Haiku?" (PDF). Review the simple rules of the Haiku with the class.
Step 6: Students will explore websites that offer collections of Haiku poetry, or will locate Haiku in poetry books (the Haiku Book List features traditional Japanese Haiku as well as modern examples of the form). Students will be asked to work with their partners to record five examples of Haiku to share with the class.
Step 7: Classroom Discussion: Encourage students to share the poems collected. Critique the poems by asking the following:
- What feelings did you have from the poem?
- Which of your five senses did the poem appeal to the most?
- What mood was the author trying to convey?
- What was the dominant impression, or idea?
- What was the kigo, seasonal word? Some are harder than others to find.
- What does Haiku look like?
Step 8: Closure: Tell the students that they are now experts on Haiku, and for the next class session they will “Be the Poet.”
Supporting All Learners
Students can use multiple resources to collect poetry. ESL students can benefit from writing down the poems they choose. Working with the partners will help any students struggling with the assignment.
Brainstorm a list of seasonal words that could be used in Haiku.
Encourage students to take their collection of Haiku poetry home to read to a parent/guardian. They can also tell them about the origins and rules of Haiku poetry.
- Read the handout, "What is Haiku?" (PDF)
- Locate 5 examples of Haiku poetry
Check for comprehension through participation during the discussion and by collecting their selections of Haiku.
- Were your students able to successfully locate examples of Haiku?
- Do your students clearly understand this form of poetry?
- Are your students ready to write Haiku?
- Is there anything you could have done to better prepare your students to write Haiku?