Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

How To Use Haiku Activities To Boost Student Creativity

Haiku Activities are the perfect addition to your Spring Lesson Plans as April is National Poetry Month! It is so important to introduce students to different forms of poetry! My favorite? Haiku! Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that has been around for centuries and has a unique structure that makes it an easy way to introduce poetry to young students. Teaching haiku not only helps students enjoy poetry, but helps develop their creativity, critical thinking,  and language skills. It helps that it’s fun too! Would you like to teach haiku in your classroom? Allow me to share some engaging Haiku activities that you can use with your students! 

Understanding Haiku

Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry that dates back to the 17th century.  These poems are usually written about something in nature like butterflies, trees, or a certain season. Haiku is known for being simple yet beautiful. They are simple poems that use only a few words to share a powerful message or strong emotion and do not require any rhyming words.

The structure of haiku is very different and not at all what comes to mind for your students when they think of poetry. A haiku consists of only 3 lines with the structure being:

  • Line 1: 5 syllables
  • Line 2: 7 syllables
  • Line 3: 5 syllables

Due to each line requiring a certain number of syllables, syllable counting is essential to writing haiku. To count syllables, students can clap their hands or tap their foot as they read each word in the poem.

Share examples of Haiku with your students

To help your students become comfortable with the structure of haiku and what it should sound like, they need to be exposed to lots of examples! Here are a couple of traditional Japanese haiku poems:

Autumn moonlight,

a worm digs silently

into the chestnut.

-Matsuo Bashō

An old silent pond,

A frog jumps into the pond—

Splash! Silence again.

-Matsuo Bashō

I also love sharing the book Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak as it shows examples of haiku while sharing about the life of the man who wrote the above haikus!

Once you have shown your students examples of more traditional haiku poems, share some examples of modern haiku. For this, I love reading these books aloud to my class:

Hearing these examples and discussing the meaning of each haiku gives students more exposure to what haiku should sound like and how to arrange words to write their own haikus. It also gives them “permission” to be a little freer with their own haiku writing. Students will see that it’s ok to write in their own voice instead of in the traditional way.

Your students will be excited to write a haiku of their own! You can provide them with a topic, brainstorm a list of possible topics as a class, or let them choose a topic completely on their own. After writing their haiku, students can share it with the class and analyze each other’s work.

Another fun tool I discovered to help your kids write their own haikus is Haikubes. These are cubes or dice that have words on them. Kids can roll the dice and then use the words to create haikus.

Fun Haiku Activities

Students typically enjoy learning about haiku, but there’s always a way to make a fun topic even more engaging! Try a few of my favorite haiku activities with your students!

  1. Nature Walks: One of the best ways to get kids excited about haiku is to take them on a nature walk! Encourage them to observe and describe the natural world around them. Allow your students to bring a notebook or journal to write down what they see, feel, smell, etc… and any ideas that come to mind as they walk. These notes are the perfect inspiration for their haiku. If it’s a pretty day, let your students write outside too!
  2. Collaborative Haiku Writing: Another of my favorite haiku activities is collaborative writing! Have students work in pairs or small groups to write a haiku together. Each student can contribute a line to the poem. The group then works together to revise and edit the poem until it feels just right. This activity helps students learn to work together and build off each other’s ideas, while also practicing their writing and language skills!
  3. Haiku Games: Games are perfect Haiku activities because they keep students engaged. Try a syllable counting game where you give students a “haiku” and they count the syllables to see if the poem is a true haiku or not. Another easy game is haiku riddles. Get your students to write a haiku about an everyday object. Students read their haiku aloud and the class guesses what item they wrote about!
  4. Haiku Art: Poetry lends itself to the creation of art so well because of the emotion it inspires. Let your students create a work of art based on their favorite haiku or one they wrote themselves. Whether it’s painting, drawing, making a sculpture, or putting together a paper collage, allowing students to creative art shows they understand the meaning behind the text!

The point of using haiku activities is to keep learning fresh and engaging so your students don’t get bored! Let your own creativity flow by adding to the above ideas or coming up with your own! Make teaching haiku fun for you and your kids will have fun, too!

Incorporate Digital Haiku Activities

Using technology always grabs a student’s attention, so do the same with haiku! A few of my favorite digital haiku activities include:

  1. Digital Haiku Creation: Have your students use a digital platform like Padlet, Google Slides, or Nearpod to create their Haiku. They can add images, audio, and text to create a multimedia Haiku.
  2. Use Digital Photography: Have students take digital photographs or capture short videos representing a Haiku poem that you give them, or they write themselves. Then create a Google Slide of the poem/illustrations to be compiled into a digital class “poetry book”.
  3. Weather Poems: Let students research different types of weather. Once they have gathered information about tornadoes, clouds, snow, etc… they must use that information to create a digital haiku. They must create a digital presentation and include sound clips and pictures.
  4. Digital Haiku Generator: Think of this digital Poem Generator as the Mad Libs of poetry! Students fill in the blanks with adjectives, nouns, and verbs, and the generator creates a haiku using those words! Allow your students to use the digital platform of your choice to add their haiku and a digital picture they create to illustrate the haiku!

These digital haiku activities are sure to add a spark to your lessons! Your students will love them!

Can you differentiate those Haiku Activities?

Yes, you absolutely can! Modifying haiku activities for different learning styles is so important in helping you reach all students. No matter their learning style, we want every student to participate and feel successful.

Visual learners may benefit from picture prompts to help inspire them to write a haiku. They also might enjoy drawing illustrations to go along with their haiku poems. Kinesthetic learners would love a nature walk to collect items from the outdoors to use as inspiration for their poems. Auditory learners might find peace listening to traditional Japanese music while writing their haikus.

What about those students who just struggle to write and stay focused? Try allowing them to tell you their ideas, and you write them down for them. Some students just need to talk about what they want to write in order to get their ideas together.

The benefits of using Haiku Activities in your classroom

Using haiku activities in your classroom is a great way to help students develop their creativity, critical thinking skills, and writing skills while also learning about a unique type of poetry. These activities allow students to express themselves and, perhaps, even learn to love poetry!

I hope you have found some haiku activities that make you excited to teach haiku to your students! If you need more ideas on incorporating poetry into your classroom, check out this blog post on creative ways to teach poetry!

Pin these Haiku Activities to Pinterest!

Keep all of these fun haiku activities for future reference by pinning this post to your favorite education Pinterest board! You won’t want to forget them!

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I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

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