Many classes study poetry in the spring. Maybe because poetry calls on our creative side and spring reminds us of new life.

Kid's haikuI was working with a third grader on writing a haiku poem about nature. We started with reading several offerings on chipmunks, the beach, squirrels and daffodils. We counted out the syllables to get the 5-7-5 pattern of beats per line and then brainstormed on what topic she wanted to write her poem about.

Concepts that a child needs to understand to build her poem:

  • matching her phrase to the number of syllables required per line
  • lines don’t need to be complete sentences but can be a thought, description or feeling
  • the poem needs to hang together in thought through the three lines
  • eliminate unnecessary words to keep the writing compact
We talked about how to add word or syllables if we didn’t have enough for the particular line. In her Frog poem, she added “clear” to “the cold, clear pond,” when she was one beat short. Maybe more difficult is to eliminate words when your line is too long.
Before writing, practice saying lines about a topic and get a feel for the length. Add or subtract words to get the lines 5 or 7 syllables long. Brainstorm phrases that describe your topic like, “The damp, dreary rain is grey,” Little drops tickle my hands,” or “Storms let raindrops go.” This is a fun group project for a  class in preparation for writing your own haiku poems.