Lesson plan

Haiku Syllables

Have your students stretch their creativity with this lesson that teaches them about haikus and has them practice their syllable counting.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Talk about poems and haikus in this lesson about poetry writing! In the Haiku Syllables lesson plan, first graders and second graders go over some of the basics of poetry writing: word structure and syllables. First, they will go over what makes a poem a haiku. Then, they will use the 5-7-5 syllable pattern of haikus to make their own poem about an animal that they like. It’s a great way to practice recognizing syllables in their writing and building up their reading skills.

Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds using haikus.

(15 minutes)
  • Introduce students to the book, Hi, Koo: A Year of Seasons.
  • Read the definition of haikus inside the book.
  • Explain that like poems that rhyme have a structure, haikus do as well. They are made up of three lines.
  • In the first line they have five syllables, not necessarily five words, but five syllables. The middle line has seven syllables and the last line has five syllables.
  • Explain that haikus are traditionally written about nature and that they originated in Japan. Tell your students that because of the language difference, they often do not translate into other languages in the correct 5-7-5 syllable pattern.
  • Practice counting the syllables in a few practice words one at a time so students can see how one word can have more than one syllable.
  • Read the story Hi, Koo: A Year of Seasons.
(5 minutes)
  • Pick an animal and type it into the document on the board.
  • Ask students to describe the animal.
  • Come up with a simple haiku describing this animal.
  • For example, if your animal is an elephant, your haiku could be Big, gray, and gentle/ Elephants are nice to us/ All around the world.
  • Invite the students to repeat the words after you.
(20 minutes)
  • As a class, pick additional animals to come up with haikus about.
  • Encourage students to count out the syllables of what they are wanting to say about the animal.
  • Demonstrate, by suggesting another way to say what they are offering, how taking a pronoun off or adding an adjective or adverb can help meet the syllable requirement.
  • Encourage students to sound out each word as they say it aloud, to support their emerging reading and pronunciation skills.
  • The more of these you do, the better they will get. It will be hard at first, so guide your students through it.
  • Continue doing this until you have enough poems for each student in the class to have one to illustrate.
  • Even though they will each illustrate one, it is much easier to write them as a class.
(20 minutes)
  • After you print the haikus, give one to each student at random.
  • Have them glue it onto the corner of a piece of copy paper.
  • Have students illustrate the animal in their haiku.
  • Enrichment: Challenge advanced students to create their own haikus.
  • Support: Struggling students may need assistance in counting out syllables. Work in small groups or one-on-one and clap out simple songs, words, or sentences.
(20 minutes)
  • You will see who is able to count the syllables while they are offering the suggestions for each animal haiku.
  • Watch for those who continuously over count or are counting words and not syllables. Reinforce how to count syllables with these students.
(5 minutes)
  • Read over your haikus before you print them as a class to make sure each one follows the 5-7-5 pattern.

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