Teaching Haiku Poetry

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1 DeVern H. Phillips Teaching Haiku Poetry Language Arts 5 th / 6 th Grade Even though I have taught poetry in the past, my experiences in our studies of East Asia have given me more insight and appreciation of the history/development of haikai (haiku as it is now known). Hopefully, utilizing this information will permit more cross curriculum teaching of subjects matter so that this (and other) form(s) of poetry do not stand alone, but are integrated into the total learning experience. This is part of a group of lessons about writing poetry that I will be teaching in my language arts curriculum. Goals and objectives:at the end of this lesson students will be able to write and distinguish haiku from other forms of poetry. Curriculum Standards: 1. Create a written piece to suit a specific audience. Kansas Standard 2 Benchmark 1 2. Apply organizational skills in writing. Kansas Standard 2 Benchmark 3 3. Apply comprehensive strategies. Kansas Standard 2 Benchmark 5 4. Demonstrate knowledge of syllabication. Kansas Standard 2 Benchmark 4 5. Organize information. Kansas Standard 2 Benchmark 7 Time required: These lessons will take place over a two to three day period depending upon class capabilities.

2 Video: National Geographic video(s) about Japan and art forms of Japan Materials: 1. Overhead projector 2. Overhead transparencies of selected Haiku poetry. 3. Overhead transparency of haiku format (5,7,5 lines) to be filled in. 4. Blank format pages for students to practice Haiku. Vocabulary: Haiku (HI coo) Are a poetic form and a type of poetry from the Japanese Kigo: (kee-go) is a season term Teach: Haiku is a poetic form that originated in Japan hundreds of years ago and continues today. Haiku combines form, content and language in a meaningful, yet compact form. Haiku poets, who you will soon be, write about everyday things. In order to be true Haiku, a poem must consist of 17 syllables and contain a Kigo. A kigo is a word that hints in what season the poem takes place. If the poem contains no kigo, it is more properly called a senryu (this could even be a 17 syllable poem about Spam or the lunch lady). Many Haiku themes include nature, feelings or experiences. Usually they use simple words and grammar. The most common form for Haiku is three short lines. The first line usually contains five (5) syllables, the second line seven (7) syllables, and the third line contains five (5) syllables. Haiku doesn t rhyme. A Haiku must paint a mental image in the readers mind. However, to understand Haiku we should look at the long, long history of Japanese literature. Japanese literature is one of the world s oldest and greatest literatures. It reflects many characteristics of the Japanese people, such as their appreciation of tradition and their sensitivity to nature. Most of the people who wrote and enjoyed early literature in Japan were members of the nobility. The greatest writers of the Heian period ( ) were women. Later in Japanese history ( ) the then new verse form called haiku was developed. It originally began as a comic style of verse that was simple to write. But in the late 1600 s, Matsuo Basho changed haiku into a serious art form. His haiku, written according to strict rules, describe subjects in nature and contain a reference to a season of the

3 year. These poems merely suggest ideas and feelings, and so the reader must use imagination to interpret them. Procedure: Let s look at three Haiku written by students:

4 A Rainbow Curving up, then down. Meeting blue sky and green earth Melding sun and rain. Notice this Haiku is written in 3 lines. The Rose The red blossom bends and drips its dew to the ground. Like a tear it falls. How many syllables are there in this Haiku?

5 Snow Gently drifting down Winter flurries are coming Tickling my cold face What is the Kigo in this Haiku?

6 Let s practice on the overhead writing a Haiku together. Fill in the seven-syllable line: Green elms in the woods Standing tall and proud. Fill in the two five syllable lines. The petals bend to the earth Copy these down and use them for a guide.

7 Now it is your turn. Pick your favorite season. That season will be your theme. Decide: 1) For what purpose will you write? 2) What mood do you want to convey? Think of images, descriptive words, and figurative language that best describe that season (remember sounds, smells, sights). Jot them down in web form or as you think of them. Then the final step is to experiment by putting your ideas on the Haiku skeleton 5, 7, 5 (syllables) and 3 lines. 3) After completing these Haiku, students will write Haiku about other themes using the same or similar procedures as before using words to paint pictures and suggestions of visual images. Evaluation: Students will be successful if they can write a fluent 17 syllable Haiku incorporating Kigo into it.

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