Standard Lesson

Learning about Clouds with Haikus

4 - 6
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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Students research the various types of clouds using print and online materials.  Then students write haikus using the Haiku App or the Haiku Poem Interactive, but they do not include the names of the clouds.  The students share their haikus and guess what type of cloud each haiku describes.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Middle school science teacher Anthony Cody discovered that one of the best ways to avoid students just “spewing” back facts from research is to engage the students in a creative writing assignment.  In this type of challenge, Cody found students tend to understand the topic in depth and are “able to explain it [the research] in a way that makes it fresh.”  Assigning the students to write haikus will give them the opportunity to present the facts in a new way that will challenge them to fit the brief form of this type of poetry.

Furthermore, Matthew Cheney explains that students commonly complain about learning poetry because in past classrooms teachers have over analyzed poems, pointing out the literary characteristics.  He suggests that instead educators should concentrate on how haikus freeze single images, which is exactly what the students’ haikus describing clouds will achieve.

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

  • Tablets or computers with Internet access
  • One computer with LCD projector and adapter to connect tablets to this computer
  • Paper to print haikus (optional)
  • Printer (optional)



This website targeted to elementary students can serve as an introduction to haiku poetry.  It would also be good for reviewing what a haiku is if students have already studied this poetry form.

This free app for the iPad features haikus divided by seasons.  It also includes a quiz in which the reader guesses what season is being described by haikus.

This free app for Android devices guides the user through how to write haikus as well as provides many examples.

This website provides easy-to-read descriptions of the various types of clouds.

In addition to the description of the types of clouds, this website includes a memory game and a matching game that might serve to extend the lesson.

This website features an easy-to-read chart of facts about clouds.

This short video is a good introduction to the basic types of clouds.


  1. If using tablets, download the Haiku Poem App. If using computers, bookmark or link the Haiku Poem Interactive to a class website or wiki.
  2. Select two to three haikus from either the apps or from the KidZone Poetry website to use during the first class session that fit the traditional haiku pattern and focus on nature.
  3. Make one copy for each student of the printouts Types of Clouds, Haiku Starter, and Haiku Rubric.
  4. Meet with your school librarian to locate print materials and online databases for information about clouds.
  5. Arrange for students to have access to computers for two sessions. If possible set up a class wiki or website and link the websites for cloud research. If that is not possible, make one copy of the printout Cloud Websites for students to use.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • compare the different types of clouds.
  • identify a cloud based on its description in a haiku.
  • identify the format of haiku poetry.
  • create haikus using concise and descriptive language to evoke images.

Session One

  1. If you are using a tablet for samples, connect the tablet to the LCD projector. If not, go to the website and project one of the haikus you have selected on the whiteboard. Read the haiku together and 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)
    • No rhyme
    • The necessity of descriptive and concise vocabulary in a haiku
  2. Divide the class into partners, and give each group a tablet or book from the printout Suggested Books for Haikus. Ask students to read with their partners several haikus and find one they would like to share with the class. Explain that they are to tell the class if it follows the traditional format and examples of concise, descriptive vocabulary.
  3. Once students have had enough time to prepare, have each pair share their haiku example with the class. Be sure to cover the following:
    • Number of syllables may vary slightly
    • Examples of descriptive, concise words
  4. Project either the Haiku Poem App or Haiku Poem Interactive and read through the section on how to write a haiku. Explain to the class that they will be writing haikus about clouds after they have researched the various types of clouds. As an introduction to this topic, show the video Everyday Science: Clouds and Weather.
  5. Hand out the printout Types of Clouds and discuss with the class what type of information they will be seeking in sessions two and three.
  6. Hand out the Cloud Haiku Rubric and discuss how students will be evaluated. Point out to the students that time on task is a category of the rubric that you will be looking for in the next sessions.

Sessions Two and Three

  1. For these sessions have computers and print materials available to the students. If a class wiki or website has not been established, hand out the printout Cloud Websites. Model for students how to access the websites.
  2. As students work circulate throughout the classroom, helping students who are having trouble locating information. Note students’ time on task so you can evaluate that category on the rubric.
  3. Assign students to complete the printout Types of Clouds if they are not done by the end of the third session.

Session Four

  1. Check that students have completed the printout Types of Clouds. Allow additional time for those who still need to finish the printout.
  2. Revisit with the students the characteristics of a traditional haiku.
    • Number of syllables per line (5-7-5 pattern)
    • Number of lines (three lines)
    • No rhyme
    • The necessity of descriptive and concise vocabulary in a haiku
  3. Hand out the printout Haiku Starter. Discuss with the class that they are to write haikus about the various types of clouds without mentioning in the haiku the name of the type of cloud. Stress the importance of writing descriptive adjectives and adverbs on the Haiku Starter. Explain that the students will share their haikus and their classmates will guess which type of cloud is being described based on the knowledge they have gained from their research, so the more descriptive the phrases they use, the easier classmates will be able to identify the clouds.
  4. Allow time for students to complete the Haiku Starter.
  5. Model for students how to use either the app or the student interactive. Show students how to add other images as well as how to save final project and save to edit. Then give the students time to move their ideas to the app on the tablets or use the student interactive.
  6. Have students e-mail their completed haikus that will come as PDF files.

Session Five

  1. Check that all students have completed their haikus. Allow additional time if needed for students to complete their haikus.
  2. Connect the tablets to the LCD projector and have students share their haikus.
  3. After each haiku is read, have the class guess which type of cloud is being described. Allow time for students to comment on each other’s haikus.


  • Share the haikus with other classes in the school.
  • Post the haikus to a class wiki or website.
  • Try the Haiku Poem App or Haiku Poem Interactive for other projects to practice such as describing characters in literature or recapping events in history.
  • Hold a Poetry Café and invite other classes and parents to hear students read their haikus.
  • Allow students to e-mail their completed haikus to their parents or other important adults in their lives.
  • Have students print their haikus and display them in the hallways or classroom.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Possible student assessment include

From this project I learned ___________________________.
This project was easy for me because ________________________.
This project was hard for me because ________________________.
This project could have been improved by ___________________.

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