Haiku in Color


Haiku is a "snapshot" of words, often related to nature or seasons. This poetry may not rhyme, but briefly captures a moment in time.


1. Read haiku poetry orally in books such as "Haiku Picturebook for Children" by Keisuke Nishimot. This book includes classic haiku poems written by Japan's most famous writers. Also read "Spring: A Haiku Story" by George Shannon. Discuss how the beautiful illustrations enhance the poetry. What do you notice about the poems?

2. What is a syllable? Count the syllables in a few of the haiku poems you read. You’ll find that haiku contains just 17 syllables, in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. The poems are usually about nature or seasons.

3. With a small group or on your own, brainstorm what nature or seasonal topic you could write a haiku about. Think small--one bird, not a flock, or one snowflake falling, not a snowstorm. Write your haiku on a white board with Crayola Dry-Erase Markers. Count the syllables! If you have too many, just erase and change your words!

4. Give your haiku a title. Add a simple picture to illustrate it. Circle the nature word or phrase in your poem. Share your poetry with your classmates!

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.


  • Ask older students to draw a box around present-tense verbs.
  • Research a similar poetry form, senryu. A senryu may be witty and tends to be about people. Some feel that any reference to human beings in a haiku turns the poem into a senryu. Read "Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku" by Paul B. Janeczko. Write senryu, too.
  • Research and write tanka, an ancient form of Japanese poetry. Tanka are 31-syllable poems that have been the most popular form of poetry in Japan for at least 1300 years. As a form of poetry, tanka is older than haiku, and tanka poems evoke a moment or mark a special occasion. In Japanese, tanka is often written in one straight line, but in English and other languages, it usually is divided into 5 lines with these syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. Read "Cricket Never Does: A Collection of Haiku and Tanka" by Myra Cohn Livingston. Write your own tanka.
  • Assessment: Students write an original haiku poem and illustrate it. All of the characteristics of haiku are evident. They circle the nature word or phrase.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Dry-Erase Markers
household supplies
  • dry-erase board
  • facial tissues



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12
  • Special Needs


  • Language Arts
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour


  • Students understand that haiku is a centuries old form of Japanese poetry. It has 17 syllables in three lines with pattern: first line, 5 syllables; second line 7 syllables; third line, 5 syllables.

  • Students recognize that haiku does not tell a story but rather creates a picture and usually includes some sort of seasonal reference or relates to nature. Older students understand that haiku is written in the present tense about a single moment.

  • Students write their own haiku poems and draw a picture relating to them.


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