Haiku HistoryThe haiku form was developed in Japan and later became popular in the United States. Haiku is the shortest form of poetry in Japan. It tells a story or suggests a mental picture of something that happens in nature. Many descriptive words are used in haiku. The modern form of haiku dates from the 1890s and developed from earlier forms of poetry, hokku and haikai. The great Japanese master of haiku was Matsuo Basho (1644-1694). The name Basho means "banana tree" and was adopted by the poet when he moved into a hut located next to a banana tree.
General Characteristic Guidelines for HaikuHaiku consists of 17 syllables and usually three lines. There are five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. The lines do not rhyme. Each haiku must contain a kigo, or season word, that indicates the season in which the haiku is set. For example, cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicates winter, and mosquitoes indicate summer, but the season word isn't always that obvious. The poem contains a "cutting" or division between two contrasting parts. In English, the first or second line usually ends with a colon or long dash to indicate this cutting. In writing haiku, contemplate nature and the present moment. Use verbs in the present tense, and choose each word very carefully.
To assess student understanding of haiku, elicit student responses to the following questions:
Next, have students close their eyes and imagine themselves walking through the woods, lying in the grass, walking through a field, etc. Create on the board a list of how words and expressions the students are feeling about the nature that surrounds them.
Show students examples of haiku and use a computer projector to demonstrate writing haiku, using the Create Your Own Haiku Web resource (see Internet Resources above).
Finally, have students write their own haiku.
Extension Activity: Print the Kid Pix presentation, and make a class book of haiku for everyone to enjoy. The class book could be sent home with a different child each day to share with his or her family.
Grade students on class participation and appropriate application of haiku guidelines.
Adapted from Professional Development
Submitted by Denise Stumpf, Muhlenberg Elementary Center, Laureldale, Pa., Penn State University
Teachers have permission to copy this page for use in their classrooms.
Originally published 03/29/2002
Linnks last updated 03/20/2007
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