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Haiku and You Grade 7 - Ages 12-15 Autumn 2003 English Language Arts Goals: To understand the formal structure of haiku. To use the compression of language and expansion of meaning to create an original haiku.

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haiku and you
Haiku and You

Grade 7 - Ages 12-15

Autumn 2003

English Language Arts Goals:

  • To understand the formal structure of haiku.
  • To use the compression of language and expansion of meaning to create an original haiku.

Through images, rhythm, written examples, and their own writing, students will learn the structure of the poetry form, haiku.

Students will also learn that in Japan, haiku is used to express seasonal awareness, feelings toward nature, compassion to animals, loneliness, happiness, and sadness.

Kobayashi Issa, one of Japan’s great poets, is introduced as someone who created haiku by integrating his own emotions and observations of nature.


The compression of language

and the


of meaning.


Haiku uses symbolismto describe nature or emotions.

What does a tree symbolize to you?

Life? Learning?

Family? Growth?

haiku is effective when
Haiku Is Effective When…

… the images are concrete:

“Powdered crags…”

… the reader finds personal meaning in the symbolism.

Powdered crags look up

Clear blue canopy protects

Green blanket below

japan celebrates 5 seasons
Japan Celebrates 5 Seasons
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn


Oshogatsu - the Japanese New Year!

how do you do haiku
How Do You Do Haiku?

Modern haiku is a 3-line verse, using 17 Japanese characters or English syllables.

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

In this first line of haiku, the word, blossom, has 2 syllables.

“Lo/tus blos/som peeks”

1 2 3 4 5

(5 syllables in this line.)


In true Japanese form, haiku uses a season’s hint word, or kigo.

“Lotus blossom peeks”

lotus blossom peeks
“Lotus blossom peeks”

Guess the season using this line of haiku.

Use thekigo.

(During what season does the Lotus begin to bloom?)

Autumn Winter New Year


the compression of language
“The Compression of Language.”

The delicate lotus blossom slowly

emerges from a

bundle of leaves

when spring arrives…


Those 14 words, or 23 syllables, were compressed to create this 5-syllable line:

Lotus blossom peeks

the expansion of meaning
The Expansion of Meaning.

‘Lotus’ is a simple, concrete, idea.

When the words, ‘blossom peeks,’

are added, the

meaning is expanded.

Lotusblossom peeks

Green bed hugging fresh petals

Bees seek sweet nectar

a great haiku poet
A Great Haiku Poet

Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827).

He wrote tender haiku about his children and wife who died, his poverty, and his little insect and animal friends.

A Self-Portrait by Issa: "Gimme that moon!/ cries the crying/ child."

can you haiku
Can You Haiku?
  • Pretend you are like Issa, all alone in the countryside of Japan.
  • You observe nature along the way. Maybe you see the sun rising, insects buzzing and colorful grasses.
  • Use haiku to describe what yousee and feel.
remember to use the haiku form
Remember to use the Haiku form:

line 1: 5 syllables

line 2: 7 syllables

line 3: 5 syllables

Include a kigo.

Compress the language.

E x p a n d the meaning.

are you still thinking
Are you still thinking?

A good Haiku is about

something simple…

  • wet leaves
  • a sunset
  • waking up in the morning

…and you think about that in a different way!

Good Work!!!!

here are some terms and concepts you have learned
Here are some terms and concepts you have learned:

Compression of Language


Expansion of Meaning










Taiko Drumming: http://members.accessbee.com/jkwasnik/midi/warsong.mid


Tree: No. 4. Japan, John Fitzgerald; http://www.botanique.com

Oshagatsu Drummer: http://www.familyculture.com/images/taiko.gif

Lotus: http://www.cnpa.org/images/Lotus_-_resized_3Casey_Szocinski.jpg

Issa’s Self Portrait: http://xavier.xula.edu/dlanoue/issa/images/sketch.jpg


Map: http://www.sacredhps.act.edu.au/assets/images/japan_map.jpg