Note to Teachers: Thank you for taking the time to visit our Haiku Lesson Plans for Grades 3 – 4. The first plan for this age level focuses on Awareness of this poetry form, and it includes haiku by students. You may wish to teach this plan first.
For this reading plan, we are featuring haiku from Montage: The Book, a book and online gallery unique to The Haiku Foundation. “Montage, a haiku gallery edited by Allan Burns and sponsored by The Haiku Foundation, was updated weekly from March to December of 2009. A comparative exhibit, its goal was to juxtapose the work of poets, often from different times and places, in order to suggest something about the range and breadth of haiku in English” (THF site). Montage: The Book is both an on-line gallery and a print book (Winchester VA: The Haiku Foundation, 2010).
The writing lesson plan for this age level will offer additional inspiration from Montage: The Book, to help the students begin writing their own haiku. We hope that poems by your students become part of our plans here on THF site in the future, and that being published here is a further encouragement to your classes.
Goal: To show beginning comprehension of haiku by a variety of poets; along with beginning to discover the history of this genre through examples of poems, and what we have in common with one another (the universals).
Objective: To show understanding of three haiku from Montage: The Book, through listening and reading along with the teacher, silently and aloud (if the student volunteers); and participating in a class discussion.
Materials: A chalkboard will work best for this lesson—wide enough so the three haiku by different poets can be written horizontally, to help students make comparisons. In Montage: The Book, each gallery includes three poets, with seven poems per poet.
Time: about 20 minutes
1. This is a group lesson. Write the following three haiku in large letters on the chalkboard, horizontally, so students can read the poems as if reading a book. The idea is for the students to see and discover that haiku from across the centuries can center around a common theme and be as fresh today as then.
2. You may also wish to write this quote from Montage: The Book on the board: “Haiku, one could say, is an art of moments” (“Baseball”, Gallery 15). Haiku may be defined simply as a short poem.
- the young grass
kids get together
to hit a ball
—Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)
spread out on the bed
—Cor van den Heuvel (b. 1931)
—Dan McCullough (b. 1966)
3. Read the three haiku aloud to the students, at a slow pace. Include the poets and the years of their lives (for Shiki) and the birthdates for the other two poets. Then read the poems a second time, perhaps pointing to the lines as you read. The goal is to model for the students the value of each word and line in short poems.
4. Then ask the children to read the three haiku with you a third time in unison. If a student is not comfortable reading aloud in a group, we suggest that reading along silently is fine, since the goal is comprehension.
5. Discuss the haiku with the children, including any new vocabulary words. Possible questions are:
What season is it in the haiku?
Do you like to play baseball? Other games?
Do you collect baseball cards or other cards?
Do you especially like one of these three haiku? Why?
When was the person who wrote your favorite poem born? About how long was this before you were born? The idea here is for the students to share and begin to discover that haiku written at different times connect with their own lives.
6. If possible, keep the haiku on display, and informally, ask the students to read them again silently or aloud, and share their thoughts, according to their interest and reading levels. Haiku are written to encourage reader participation.
7. Repeat the lesson with additional haiku, according to the pace that is right for your class.
1. Confident readers may wish to volunteer to read the haiku for the class.
2. Some students may wish to read the poem aloud to the teacher or a fellow student at another time, if not comfortable reading aloud in front of the group.
3. Another idea is for students to write their favorite haiku on index cards, and begin to create their own collection of poems.
4. Some students may wish to write their own haiku.
5. An art lesson can be created around the poems, with student illustrations.
Since this is a group lesson, provide positive and corrective feedback in an informal way. The major goal is for the students to enjoy haiku. The next lesson for this age group includes a writing assignment that asks them to compose their own poems. You may wish to formally grade the students’ work in this lesson; we hope our plans provide flexible options for many different classes, according to your needs.
Here are some additional poems, if you would like to apply the premise of this plan to another lesson.
These are from Montage: The Book; “Gallery ThirtyEight: Fall Migration”.
on a bare brown branch—
but, oh, what a song
—Carole MacRury (b. 1943)
through the quiet schoolyard
the killdeer’s cry
—Martin Lucas (b. 1962)
a red-tail’s echo . . .
the reservoir the color
of surrounding pines
—Allan Burns (b. 1966)