Writing Haiku With Kids

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When I teach poetry I always include a bit of haiku. The rules are simple, they don’t have to rhyme and they can be about whatever the children want. It is also a great lesson to include when studying Japanese history

History: The short version of the history of haiku is that it originated in Japan sometime during the 9th century and is derived from court poetry. A haiku, while short, should capture a moment in time, usually something from nature, and evoke feeling about that moment. For more information, check out


To start, have your students brainstorm about things they love from nature-a lake, a pond, an animal, a spider, a rainstorm-whatever it is that gives them pause or causes them to smile or shiver. Have them pick one of those to focus on, whichever one they feel most strongly about.

The form of haiku is three lines with seventeen syllables arranged five syllables on the first, seven syllables on the middle and five syllables on the last. To get the idea of what syllables are, have the children clap with you the syllables of their names and talk about the beat and rhythm of words. Remind them that a syllable is not the same as a word and that one word might have many syllables.

Have them write their three lines, encouraging them to write with how the theme makes them feel. Do spiders scare you? Are rainstorms loud? Then encourage them to count the syllables, and adjust accordingly. It might take them a couple of gos to get it right, and that is okay.

When they finish the final version and are happy with the feelings evoked and the way the lines scan, have them draw a picture to go along with the poem. This is a great project to display for any school, after-school program or for a home-school to put up. Enjoy!


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