Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Do You Haiku? We Do!

Judith Rose


Have you ever used Math to write poetry? Try your hand at it, writing Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry. Haiku is usually 17 syllables in three-line form, with a first line of five syllables, the second of seven syllables, and the third of five syllables. It is most often about nature, but can be expanded to include other subjects, which allows integration with almost any content area. This simple way of combining creative, yet informative, phrases, results is a fun way to teach this simple poetry form. Encased in tattered backpacks sit many sleeping pencils tools of creation. --adapted from Howard Yosha,


The student uses simple alphabetical and numerical systems to organize information.

The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, letters to invite or thank, stories or poems to entertain, information to record).

The student uses electronic technology to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information (including but not limited to word-processing software, electronic encyclopedias).

The student attempts to focus on an expository topic with little or no irrelevant or repetitious information.


-LCD projecter hooked up to computer with Internet access is handy for online reference review
-Transparencies of Haiku Syllable Chart, Haiku Rubric, and Fact Sheets, if using overhead projector
-White (or chalk) board or large sheets of paper (bulletin board paper works well)
-Markers for use with white board or paper, chalk if using chalkboard
-Eraser, if using white or chalk board
-Access to various online databases (optional, but encouraged--may substitute reference books if unavailable)
-Computers with Internet access, or computer software with subject information and pictures (e.g. Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia CD-Rom)
-One thesaurus and dictionary per group, if no access to online thesaurus in word-processing program
-Paper and pencil for student work
-Sample Haiku, Haiku Rubric, Syllable Chart, Fact Sheet, Traditional Haiku for Discussion, Animal Haiku for Discussion (see attached files)


1. Collaboratively plan with media specialist for use and review of online databases in media center or computer lab. Arrange for times to accompany class for research, or to send small groups for research.
2. Gather all listed materials.
3. Use markers to copy blank Haiku Syllable Chart on large paper to be posted in the classroom. (Or copy it as an overhead transparency.)
4. Print out Sample Haiku and sample Syllable Chart, and keep handy for reference on Day 3.
5. Make copies of Fact Sheets, Haiku Rubrics, and Haiku Syllable Chart for each student.
6. Print out Sample Traditional Haiku for Discussion and/or Sample Animal Haiku for Discussion. Make copies for each group, if desired.
7. Register with Beacon to obtain account for Sitemaker use.
8. Check for suitable graphics on Beacon Sitemaker.


Day 1

1. Divide the class into partners or groups and assign each a subject.

2. Review use of appropriate databases and other online information sources.(Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia, Gale Student Resource Center-Junior, etc.)

3. Distribute Fact Sheets to each group, one per person. Explain that they need to save one for their final copies, the others may be used as drafts.

4. Model using an online information source to locate and fill in the required facts on the sheet.

5. Have students begin researching their assigned subject, using the Fact Sheet.

6. Circulate among students to assist with research/use of online references.

Day 2

1. Allow time for students to complete Fact Sheets, if necessary. Circulate among students to assist with online reference use.

2. Bring the class back together as a group.

3. Explain that in the next session they will be using their completed Fact Sheets to help them learn to creatively write some Japanese poems called Haiku.

4. Have students close their eyes while you read several haiku aloud. Discuss the pictures they formed in their imaginations from the adjectives and descriptive phrases in the haiku. Discuss how the author's knowledge of the subect enhanced the haiku, and helped the reader to form a more complete picture.

Day 3

1. Re-read one of the haiku discussed in Day 2(see Day 2, #3). Review with students the use of descriptive phrases and information about the subject that helped accurately depict the subject.

2. Tell the students -Today we are going to use our completed Fact Sheets to help us learn this creative writing strategy. We will use our addition skills to help us put together some of the facts we have learned, making descriptive phrases. Then we'll put the phrases together into the Japanese form of poetry called haiku.

3. Explain that since haiku are written in a format that depends upon syllables, the class will be using a syllable chart as a pre-writing organizer for writing a haiku.

4. Using the Sample Haiku and the Sample Haiku Syllable Chart as references, elicit descriptive phrases from students about the sample subject. Have students determine the number of syllables in each phrase, and enter it in the appropriate chart space. (You may use the board or overhead projector with a write-on transparency of a blank Syllable Chart.) Be sure the phrases used in the Sample Haiku are included on their chart.

5. Explain to the class that now they are going to see an example of a haiku written using the Syllable Chart. Post Sample Haiku #2 on the board. (Do not cover up the Syllable Chart.) Have students point out from which chart column came the various descriptive phrases. Count with the students to determine the total number of syllables in the haiku. Point out that most haiku are written using only seventeen syllables.

6. Repeat counting with students to determine each line's number of syllables. Tell the students that this five-seven-five, three-line format, is the most common form of haiku. Explain that this is the form the class will use.

7. Using the LCD projector or overhead with transparency, show the class the Sample Animal Fact Sheet. Ask them to help you use these facts to make some descriptive phrases about the subject. Determine with students the number of syllables in each phrase, and write it in the proper column. Be sure to generate other phrases using the same words, so that the number of choices is expanded. (Eg. Bottom-crawling sea creature (5 syllables), bottom-crawling (4), crawling (2), bottom (2), etc.)

8. Have students put phrases together to conform to the five-seven-five syllable format. To avoid argument, write several of their haiku on the board.

9. When finished, have students vote for their favorite haiku. Determine student familiarity with the use of rubrics as evaluation tools. If familiar, have them use the Haiku Rubric to evaluate the class haiku. If students are unfamiliar with rubrics, choose one or two haiku from the Rubric Evaluation Practice sheet, and model evaluation.

10. Students may be assigned to individually improve the class haiku before the next session. Tell them they may use any necessary reference tools, however, the correct haiku format must be maintained.

Day 4

1. Post the class haiku. Allow students to share their changed versions. Discuss how changes have influenced the effectiveness. Be sure to solicit reasons for students' changes.

2. Divide the students into their groups. Students then brainstorm descriptive phrases using their own Fact Sheets. Instruct them to record the phrases in the proper columns on the Syllable Chart.

3. Circulate among students to assist with recording of phrases in proper columns.

4. After ten to fifteen minutes, tell students that they should now use their recorded phrases to write their own group haiku. Remind the students that they will be using the Haiku Rubric to evaluate their haiku.

5. Have students use the Haiku Rubric to evaluate their haiku. This may be done as a class activity, or assigned for Home Learning.

6. Students who finish early can begin working with Sitemaker, or check out some of the haiku on the Children's Garden of Haiku.

Day 5

Students share their haiku, then use Beacon Sitemaker to post their haiku on the web.


The student, as well as the teacher, can formatively assess the haiku using the attached rubric. The completed Fact Sheet, Syllable Chart, Work Space, and Haiku Worksheets will evidence the use of electronic technology in creation, revision, retrieval, and verification of information, and in assessing the information manager ability of the students. Use of Beacon Sitemaker in posting haiku, and the sharing of their haiku will show evidence of effective communication by students.


For a fun review of content area subject matter, have students use their textbooks to write haiku on the subject(s) to be reviewed. Share with the class as part of their test review.

To further correlate with Math, have students determine Fact Families that they use to create their haiku. (E.g., 3 syllables + 2 syllables = 5 syllables, 2 syllables + 3 syllables = 5 syllables, 5 syllables - 3 syllables = 2 syllables, 5 syllables - 2 syllables = 3 syllables.)

Make a class book of the United States by assigning a different state to each student (and extras to the more advanced). Students then research their states, and write one or two short paragraphs. After writing the paragraphs, students use what they have written to create state haiku.

Write animal haiku inside outlines of animals made from poster or bulletin board paper. Display around the room during animal unit.

Be creative--almost any subject can be expanded to use for haiku writing!

Web Links

Illustrated haiku written by children on a variety of subjects, and in a variety of forms. Indexed with thumbnails and by country.
Children's Haiku Garden

Girl scouts show how to write different forms of poetry on their site, highlighting different forms monthly. Most haiku is written in the 5-7-5 format, so it goes well with this lesson.
Girl Scouts of America

Attached Files

Animal Fact Sheet     File Extension: pdf

Sample Animal Fact Sheet     File Extension: pdf

Haiku Syllable Chart/Work Space     File Extension: pdf

Sample Haiku Syllable Chart/Work Space     File Extension: pdf

Haiku Worksheet     File Extension: pdf

Traditional Haiku for Discussion     File Extension: pdf

Animal Haiku for Discussion     File Extension: pdf

Rubric Evaluation Practice     File Extension: pdf

Sample Animal Haiku     File Extension: pdf

Haiku Rubric Revised     File Extension: pdf

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