Standard Lesson

Animate that Haiku!

5 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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Although some students insist they cannot write poetry, the haiku's short form and its lack of rhyme will make the students less apprehensive of the task.   Because of their brevity, haikus are perfect for teaching students how to use Animoto, an online web tool to create short slideshows. After reading haikus and examining the haiku format, students write their own haikus that they then animate using Animoto.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Cheney points out that English teachers have oftentimes taken away their students’ enthusiasm for poetry by overanalyzing the literary qualities of poems.  In particular, he suggests that teachers who concentrate on form have not instructed their students on the true essence of haiku poetry.  He believes instructors should focus on the haiku’s quality of capturing a “moment, image, or feeling drawn from the close observation of nature.”

Likewise, according to Parr and Campbell, teachers need to find low-anxiety methods to teach poetry that allows students to delve into poetry without the emphasis on form and rhyme. Additionally, by tying in technology elements with poetry, students may be more motivated to write as Hutchison, Beschorner and Schmidt-Crawford noted that students were highly engaged when using iPads in the classroom.  Furthermore, Parr and Campbell state that students need to be given opportunities to share their own poetry. By using the Haiku Poem App and then creating short slideshows through Animoto, students have two unique platforms to communicate their poems.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Materials and Technology

  • Samples of haiku poetry from books and/or websites
  • Classroom computer with projection capabilities
  • Computers with Internet capabilities and headphones
  • Items from nature such as pinecones, pebbles, and dried flowers



At this website teachers can sign up for a free educator account which provides six-month access for fifty students.

This is the website for noted children’s science author Seymour Simon where each week he posts a "Cool Photo of the Week," which can serve as inspiration for writing haikus.

Although this website is geared for elementary students, it can serve as an introduction to haiku poetry and most of the haikus are illustrated with at least one image.

The portions of the current issue of this society’s journal Frogpond is online.  Since the haikus are not illustrated, the haikus at this website would be useful to have the students identify the descriptive, concise language of haikus.

At this website you will find several haikus under the section Featured Haiku, some traditional and some not.  None are illustrated, so again students can explain what images the language of the haiku evoke.

This website features haikus from children around the world.  You may want to invite your students to add their haikus to this website.


  1. Sign up for a free educator account at Animoto, and then create student accounts.  Instructions for creating student accounts came be found at How Do I Set Up Accounts for My Students?.
  2. Familiarize yourself with Animoto using the Animoto Instructions printout.  Depending on the level of your students, you might want to make one copy of this for each student.
  3. Decide where you will post the students’ finished slideshows.  One possibility is to create a classroom wiki at Wikispaces or a class website at Google Sites.  Both tools are free
  4. Reserve time in your school’s computer lab for one session. If possible, bookmark Animoto or post the link on the class wiki or website.  If neither option is feasible, simply have the students type in the address in the browser.
  5. Select several haikus from the websites listed and/or from the Suggested Haiku Books printout to use during the first class session.  Choose haikus that follow the traditional format as well as ones that do not.  If you use haikus online without images, find at least one image per haiku online that could correspond with these selected haikus.  Save these images to the classroom computer that will be used for projecting.  Least Things:  Poems about Small Nature by Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple is an excellent resource for showing haikus combined with photography.
  6. Using one of the selected haikus, create an Animoto slideshow to share with the students.
  7. Collect nature items, such as pinecones, pebbles, and dried flowers, for your classroom to serve as inspiration during the writing process.
  8. Find nature images online that you can print or use actual photographs to serve as additional inspiration.  If you search “Cool Photo of the Week” at Seymour Simon’s website, you will find many interesting nature images that will engage students.
  9. Make one copy of first page of the Haiku Starter and the Haiku Rubric for each student.
  10. Secure the tablets that students will use in session three.  Download the Haiku Poem App on these tablets. Familiarize yourself with the app, especially how to customize the background image.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • identify the format and topic of traditional haiku poetry.
  • create haikus using concise and descriptive language to evoke images.
  • create haikus using a mobile app.
  • create a slideshow through the use of Animoto to illustrate the descriptive language of a haiku.

Session One

  1. Begin by projecting one of the traditional haikus on the board.  Read the haiku together.
  2. Ask students questions about the traditional format of a haiku.  Cover the following areas:
    • Number of syllables per line (5-7-5 pattern)
    • Number of lines (three lines)
    • Typical nature theme
  3. Ask students to circle on the board the descriptive words they find in the haiku.
  4. Show the image(s) you found for the haiku and reread the haiku. Discuss the following about the image:
    • How does this image fit the descriptive language of the haiku?
    • What emotions does the image invoke?
    • Do these emotions fit the mood of the haiku?
  5. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a traditional haiku to examine and present to the class.  Ask them to discuss the following in their small groups and then share with the class while the haiku is projected (write these on the board or project them for students to see):
    • The traditional 5-7-5 syllable line format
    • Number of lines
    • The nature theme
    • The descriptive words
    • The mood of the haiku
    • What image(s) they imagine would fit their haiku
  6. Project a non-traditional haiku on the board.  Read the haiku together and discuss the following:
    • Number of syllables per line
    • Number of lines
    • The theme of the haiku
    • The concise, descriptive language that is present in all haikus
  7. Project the image(s) you found for this haiku and reread the haiku.  Ask students how this image fits the haiku.
  8. Have students return to their small groups and give each group a non-traditional haiku to present to the class using the same topics above.  If this is not completed during this session, give students time to finish with their groups at the beginning of the next session or require them to finish it out of class.
  9. Share with the students that in the next session they will write their own haikus on tablets using Haiku Poem App.  Explain that after they have written their haikus, the students will then use Animoto to create slideshows of their haikus.  Give the students the Haiku Rubric and show the students the Animoto slideshow you have created to compare to the rubric.

Session Two

  1. Before the students arrive for this session, lay out your nature items (or items that students provided) and hang your images/photos in the classroom.
  2. Connect one tablet to the projector and project the Haiku Poem App.  Together read through the descriptions in the app about What is a Haiku? and How to write a Haiku.  Take one of the nature items or images, and solicit from the class suggestions for the Brainstorming section. Then together create a haiku using the ideas from brainstorming. Remind students that because of the brevity of a haiku, not every item on the brainstorming list needs to be included in the finished poem.  Model for the students how to change the text and customize the background to match the haiku. Model for the students how to save their final poem as well as e-mail to you for printing.
  3. Hand out the tablets with the mobile app to the students. Tell them they may use one of the nature items or images to create their list, or they may choose any other nature-related topic.  Also, remind them that only traditionally formatted haikus require the strict 5-7-5 syllable pattern.  Allow time for students to complete their haikus.  Circulate throughout the classroom, helping those who have trouble with the app and probing those who have problems writing the haiku.
  4. Check that all students have completed their haikus and sent them to you. Print each student’s haiku for use in the next session.

Session Three

  1. Check that all students completed their haikus in the last sessions.  If not, allow time for those who have not finished to complete the assignment.

  2. Again play the Animoto slideshow you have created but do not project the slideshow.  Therefore, the students are just hearing the soundtrack you have selected.  Discuss what emotions the music evokes.  Show the slideshow with projection and discuss how the music and images complement the haiku.

  3. Model for the students how to find images online that will correspond to their haikus.  Discuss the following:

    • Searching using specific words (for example, using tulip instead of flowers)
    • Copyrighted images cannot be used
  4. Model of the students where you want them to save their images.

  5. Model each step of how to make an Animoto slideshow using the Animoto Instructions print-out.

  6. Hand out the students’ haikus that they created on the tablets and you have printed.

  7. Provide each student with a user name and password for Animoto.

  8. Allow students time to work on their slideshow.  While students are working, discuss with students individually the following:

    • Use of descriptive language
    • Images that reflect the descriptive language

    • Music that mirrors the mood of the haiku

    • Problems they have in creating their slide show

  9. When students complete their slideshows, have them work with a partner to check each other’s slideshow against the Haiku Rubric.  Allow students to make any necessary changes.

  10. Collect the students’ printed haikus at the end of the hour, so that this can be used as part of their assessment and for possibly displaying these in the classroom or in the school building.

Session Four

  1. Allow time for students to continue to work on/finish up their slideshows.
  2. When students complete their slideshows, have them work with a partner to check each other’s slideshow against the Haiku Rubric.  Allow students to make any necessary changes.
  3. Collect the Haiku Starter at the end of the hour as part of the student assessment and remind students that they will be presenting their slideshows to the class in the next session.

Session Five

  1. Have each student share his/her slideshow.
  2. Allow time for students to comment on each other’s haikus and choice of images as well as music (you may either have students fill out a rubric for each presenter, or provide some sort of guiding questions that students should use to give constructive feedback).
  3. If possible, post the students’ slideshows to the class wiki or website and encourage the students to share these with members of their families.


  • Have the students draw their own pictures for their haikus.  Using digital cameras, take pictures of their artwork and upload these to Animoto.
  • Use the tablets to take pictures of the students’ own drawing.  Use these images as background in the Haiku Poem App.
  • Have additional books from the Poetry Books with Good Illustrations printout in the classroom and encourage students to read these.
  • Try other forms of poetry and create Animoto slideshows for these poems.
  • Use the mobile app Word Mover to create “found poetry.”
  • Have students share their slideshow with a younger class at school.
  • Invite parents to a Poetry Coffeehouse and share the students’ work.
  • Display the students’ haikus creating using the Haiku Poem App on a class bulletin board or in the hallways for others to enjoy.
  • Invite students to post their haikus to the website Kids on the Net for an even larger audience to enjoy their creative writing.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Examine the completed haikus made with the app.
  • Use the Haiku Rubric to assess students’ finished slideshows.
  • Keep notes on students’ participation in group work and time on task.
  • Ask the students to explain (in a few sentences/paragraph) the relationship between the images and the music they choose for their haikus.

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