What is a Haiku?
Haikus are a traditional form of Japanese poetry. They are short, structured poems, usually about nature. In practice, a haiku can be written about anything: abstract concepts or topics such as seasons, nature, animals, events etc.
Haikus are a fun and interesting way for students to learn about syllables. Because haikus are so short, composing them is a great way to encourage kids to flex their vocabulary and creative skills, as they have to focus on finding a few suitable words to describe something to the best of their ability.
The Structure of a Haiku
Every Haiku must follow certain rules. It must consist of three lines, with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the middle line, and 5 syllables again in the last line. Each line can have any number of words and haikus do not need to rhyme.
What are Syllables?
A syllable is the part of a word pronounced as a unit- it usually made up of a vowel alone, or a vowel along with one or more consonant alphabets. The word “haiku” has two syllables: Hai-ku!
Examples of haikus
A traditional Haiku example by Matsuo Basho, a famous poet from Japan who is considered the greatest master of the haiku:
An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
And a more modern, funny haiku that you might enjoy:
Santa is coming
He rewards good behavior
No presents for me.
The most common topics for haiku are nature-related, and this is a classic example:
Sand scatters the beach
Waves crash on the sandy shore
Blue water shimmers.
How to write a Haiku
Read some examples of haikus before you write them so you understand what a good haiku looks like!
Choose any topic- haikus are traditionally about nature and life, but in modern times, can be about anything that interests you!
Use all five senses to think about sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and things you can touch related to that
Think about your favorite descriptive words and phrases, and write sentences using them
Edit your writing so that you achieve the correct number of syllables for each line. Remember that to write a haiku, you have to stick to the 5-7-5 syllable structure
Here are five topics and prompts that will inspire you to write your own haiku:
Your favorite season or festival
A haiku about homework or school
Write about your pet, or favorite animal if you don’t have a pet!
Describe a family member
Talk about one of your hobbies