April is National Poetry Month and April 17 is International Haiku Poetry Day. So to celebrate, let’s introduce our kiddos to the art of poetry by learning how to write a simple haiku poem together!
The haiku is a basic form of poetry and an easy one for kids of all ages to grasp. Originally established in Japan as far back as the 9th century, the haiku is a form of poetry that has stood the test of time.
While today there are many different variations of haikus, the traditional rules for writing a haiku are as follows:
- A haiku is made up of only three lines, totaling 17 syllables.
- The first line is 5 syllables.
- The second line is 7 syllables.
- The third line is 5 syllables.
- There is no guideline for the number of words in each line, the line instead just has to meet the 5-7-5 syllable requirement. A traditional haiku is suggested to be read in “one breath.”
- Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet, and need not follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.
- A haiku does not have to rhyme, in fact, usually it does not rhyme at all!
Traditional subjects for haikus usually involve animals, nature, or seasons. So with Earth Day approaching on April 22, a haiku is a great way to engage kids in the arts while also exploring and admiring the beauty of nature. Focusing on even the smallest elements of nature, like a blade of grass or a drop of dew can make for a great haiku.
Ready to get started?! Here are a few tips to help you and your child work together to create an original haiku:
- Select a subject for your poem. Take a short nature walk and use items you spot along the way as your inspiration. You can ask your child what they remember most from the walk and start with that. (It may also be helpful to read a few haikus first, you can find examples on the internet or in a poetry book from your local library).
- After you choose a subject, you may want to look at a few pictures of it, or take some more time outside to admire it.
- Grab a paper and pencil and brainstorm some words that relate to your subject and can help you describe it. Write out a list of words that can be used to describe the subject you have chosen; be as detailed as possible. Don’t just think of looks, think about feelings and emotions, too!
- Now it’s time to identify the number of syllables in each word on your list. You can teach your child how to clap out syllables by watching this video together.
5. Select a combination of words and put them together in each line of your haiku. Remember to follow the 5-7-5 pattern. Begin by selecting words for the first line, being sure that the total number of syllables in that line does not exceed five. Proceed with lines 2 and 3 of your haiku; line 2 should have 7 syllables and line 3 will have 5 again.
6. Read your poem aloud. Does it sound good? Does it make sense? Can it be read in one breath? If not, try going back to your word bank and replacing specific words that have the same syllable count.
7. Once you are satisfied with your word selections and their order; Congratulations! You’ve just made your very own haiku!
Want more? Try repeating the process for a different subject or topic. You can make haikus about your pets, to describe your backyard, or even for the month of April…the possibilities are endless!
I hope you enjoy this fun exercise into the art of poetry with your kids. We’d love to see your completed haikus. Please SHARE your original poems and their authors in the comments below or on social media and tag us at @carrolltonecpta!
YourDictionary.com. (2014). Rules for Writing Haiku published by Kit Kittelstad. Retrieved March 2021, from https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/rules-for-writing-haiku.html
About the Author
Kristin Merron is a boy-mom of two, William (4) and Benjamin (9 months), who resides in Carrollton, TX with her husband Matt. Originally from Chicago, IL she moved to Dallas, TX in 2011. She has a professional background in Communications and has worked as a full-time mom, a part-time mom, a work-from-home mom, and is now navigating life as a stay-at-home mom. She joined CECPTA in November 2019 and is part of the PURPLE and RED playgroups. She enjoys family bike rides, binge-worthy shows, board games, travel, and exploring new places in and around DFW with her children and husband.