Introducing Your Children to Poetry Through Haiku

by Andy Minshew


Happy National Poetry Month! This April observance is a great time to introduce poetry to your little writer!
Teaching poetry to children is a wonderful way to build a child’s reading and writing skills. By reading poetry aloud and writing poetry, children are introduced to the  limitless possibilities of the English language, all while learning vocabulary, rhyme, word choice, and grammar.

There are a variety of poetic forms children can learn about, including sonnets, free verse and blank verse, but the easiest to teach a young child is the traditional Japanese poetry: Haiku. Consisting of only three lines, this type of poetry is simple to teach and master together. If a child can count the number of syllables in a word, they can write a haiku! And since a haiku doesn’t rhyme, many kids find this form of poetry easy to understand and fun to write.

So, whether you are writing about llamas in pajamas or about your funny family cat, a haiku can be a joy to explore! Learn more about haiku and how you can write one together to celebrate this literary month.

What Is Haiku?

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that consists of 3 lines. The poem has a total of 17 syllables. The format or those three lines is broken down like:

  • The first line has 5 syllables (Typically a line that describes the subject)
  • The second line has 7 syllables  (Typically a line that describes the subject more)
  • The last line has 5 syllables  (Typically a line that makes a statement)

Because a haikus are such short poems, they are usually written about things that are easily recognizable to a reader. Typically they are about animals and nature, but there are tons of popular subjects a child can write about, including:

  • Food
  • School
  • Sports
  • Pets
  • Friends
  • Family

For example, your child could write a haiku about something silly that happened at home, like spilling the milk at breakfast:

Full gallon of milk
All over the kitchen floor
Slowly count to ten

To help you get started on writing your own, check out our haiku activity below. Learn the steps of brainstorming and structuring your own haiku!

A Haiku Activity

Although haiku are short and fun to write, they are not a walk in the park. It does take some practice to understand how to format and write these poems! To help you master this poetry, follow these steps:

1. Pick your haiku topic! Are you going to write about nature, the weather, your family fish? Once you pick a topic, start brainstorming what you want to write about or things that describe that topic. For example, if I wanted to write about a snowman, I would brainstorm words like:

  • Cold
  • White
  • Breeze
  • Scarves
  • Coal
  • Melting
  • Carrot
  • Sticks
  • Tophat
  • Snow
  • Sun

2. After you think about what you want to write, think about the last line of the haiku, or the “statement line” where you will make an observation. For my example above, I would like to make a statement about a snowman melting.

3. Start writing your haiku, but keep in mind the syllable format of 5-7-5. Try to think of words that fit the syllables requirements; help your child clap out syllables to see if your lines have 5, 7, and 5 syllables. For example, my snowman haiku would be something like this:

Melting snowman sad
Black holes where his eyes had been
The sun’s not his friend

4. Once you finalize your haiku, write it nicely centered on a page!


Isn’t it fun to write haiku?

As a relatively simple form of poetry, your child can write simple, silly and fun haiku. This, in turn, might ignite their desire to learn more about this type of writing. Poetry is a wonderful way for children to express themselves, so once you master the haiku, look for more to learn!

Below are tons of book resources you can use to  introduce your child to haiku and the wider world of poetry!


1.“I Haiku You” by Betsy E. Snyder
2.. “In the Eyes of the Cat: Japanese Poetry For All Seasons” by Demi
3. “Haiku Picturebook for Children” by Keisuke Nishimoto
4. “Don’t Step on The Sky: A Handful of Haiku” by Miriam Chaikin
5. “What I Lick Before Your Face: And Other Haikus by Dogs” by Jamie Coleman
6. “Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young” by Jack Prelutsky
7. “A Poem for Every Day of the Year” by Allie Esiri
8. Scholastic Poetry Printables: Learn More About Poetry


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