4 Tips for Teaching Haiku Poetry

Haiku poetry presents students with a wonderful introduction to National Poetry Month. This post shares tips for teaching haiku poetry to students across grade levels.

Plus, you can grab a FREE Google Slides Haiku activity!

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What is Haiku Poetry?

This style of poetry originated in Japan. Haiku poetry seems less intimidating to students because:

  • They are short poems.
  • Haikus follow a structured pattern and system.
  • Haiku poetry tends to focus on nature

Since April is National Poetry Month, we often go outside to brainstorm and gather inspiration from nature.

This is wonderful if your students need engaging activities around Spring Break.

Here are some quick and easy ways to use haiku poetry as you kick off or dig deeper into National Poetry Month in your class.

1–Begin with Haiku Poetry Read-Alouds

Stories pull us into experiences like magnets! Everyone loves a good story.

Use this to your advantage by introducing poetry through read-alouds. This detailed blog post by Erica of What We Do All Day offers a list of book ideas specifically related to haiku poetry.

If you teach upper elementary–or even middle school–don’t sneer up your nose at reading out loud to your kiddos!

I am a FULL believer in the effectiveness of reading out loud to students. In fact, I wrote a full post on it here. 

2–Use QR Codes To Reinforce Understanding of Haiku Poems

My second tip for teaching haiku poetry is to infuse technology with your poetry lessons.

Here’s how I combine QR Codes with my haiku poems:

  • I put one haiku poem on each QR Code.
  • Then I put poems that DO NOT correctly follow the style and structure of haiku poems on a few QR Codes.
  • Students scan the codes with the QR Code Reader on our class iPads. By the way, I love BeeTagg reader because you don’t have to sign up for an account.
  • Students get to practice different types of poems as they scan each code. They are also getting great practice identifying haikus correctly.

Students write their responses on a recording sheet or complete them with interactive notebooks.

This QR Code activity can be used during whole-class instruction or as a center/small group.

3–Add Rhythm and Beat to Haiku Poetry Reading

My third tip for teaching haiku poetry is to add rhythm and beats to your poetry reading time.

The 5-7-5 syllable pattern of haiku poems makes them perfect candidates for recitations with a drum or just by clapping to stay on pace.

You don’t need some fancy, top-of-the-line drum set! You also don’t need to be an expert at drumming.

Honestly, my students just use the table or their desks. Adding a beat to the syllables builds a concrete understanding of the formula that makes haiku poems so unique.

Just bear with the aggravation of a bunch of kids hitting their desks for a while!

It’s only temporary but very fun and effective! Your kids will love chanting poems out loud with a cool beat to them.

I give students a haiku poem “chant card” to remind them about the rules of haiku poetry. Click the image to see this resource.

4–Provide Visual Images or Go Out in Nature

Haiku poems typically center on things in nature.

My fourth tip for teaching haiku poetry is to give students lots of visual images of nature. Here are ways I’ve made this engaging in my class:

  • Provide nature images through Google Earth
  • I’ve also created slideshows of nature images using PowerPoint
  • My students have also enjoyed looking for nature images using our Magazine Scavenger Hunt literacy center activity.
  • SafeShare has great nature videos for free!

If the weather permits, you can also take your kiddos outside for nature brainstorming with their haiku poetry writing.

Not only does this provide movement and collaboration, but it gives students a chance to really tune in their senses to the world around them. This sharpens their haiku writing!

How to Keep Students “On-Task” with Nature Walks

I know some students will try and use nature walks as a chance to misbehave or get off task.

To keep my students on task, I give each one a haiku poetry planning sheet, which they put on a clipboard to take outside with them. Their requirement is to have the planning sheet complete before coming back inside.

Get this planning page in digital or printable versions for haiku poems. Click the image for the PRINTABLE format. Click HERE FOR DIGITAL.

The planning sheet holds students accountable to complete the assignment before going back inside the classroom.

For students who need even more accountability to stay on task, I keep them very close to me during our nature walk!

The goal of providing visual images or going out into nature is to help your students come up with adjectives and sharper descriptions for writing their own haiku poems.

Bonus Tips for Teaching Haiku Poetry

Here are a few extra ideas for teaching this type of poetry:

  • Allow your students to write their haiku poems online with this FREE iOS and Andriod Haiku App.
  • Have a Poetry Slam or Poetry Hour where students select their favorite well-known haiku poems and read them out loud to the class. You can make this event even more exciting by decorating the front of your class like a stage and bringing in props like this!
  • Grab this FULL resource with everything you need to teach haiku and other types of poetry.

Digital Poetry activities upper elementary

More Poetry Resources

If you’re looking for more poetry ideas, you’ll enjoy these blog posts:

Plus, don’t forget to grab your free Google Slides Haiku activity for your upper elementary class!

3 Responses

  1. Hi Tanya,

    Please take note of a new haiku picture book, H IS FOR HAIKU: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, by Sydell Rosenberg, my late mother. Sawsan Chalabi is the illustrator. The publisher is Penny Candy Books — https://www.pennycandybooks.com/blog-1/losak and https://www.pennycandybooks.com/shop/haiku — Syd was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America 50 years ago, in 1968 (I’m now a member too). Some of the poems in this charming book were first published decades ago in journals; they stand the test of time. I call them “word-pictures,” because they are visually appealing … like little stories. Both kids and adults will enjoy this collection. Sawsan’s lively illustrations underscore the gentle playfulness, with and happiness in these poems. Some of my mom’s haiku have been used by an arts education organization in NYC, Arts For All (arts-for-all.org), to teach young students in city schools the basics of collage, painting and drawing; music; and theater — https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/2017/01/15/how-we-haiku-teaching-stories-12/

    Thank you for a terrific column. Have a haiku day!

      1. Penny Candy Books is growing … the titles are varied and wonderful. Thanks for checking out PCB’s wares! And my apology for the typo in my message … I meant to type “wit.” Warm wishes.

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