Standard Lesson

Reading, Writing, Haiku Hiking! A Class Book of Picturesque Poems

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 45-minute sessions
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Using One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis as an introductory text, students learn to identify elements of haiku poetry. Students go on a class hike to observe nature in their own neighborhood and collect "picturesque" words in their writer's notebooks. They explore syllable counts in their word collections and use descriptive words to compose original haiku. Students then use print and online resources to locate facts for informational notes on the topics of their poems. Finally, students work collaboratively to publish their poetry and notes in an illustrated class book.

From Theory to Practice

  • Poetry encourages word play and exploration of language, connects reading and writing, demonstrates the importance of word choice and word order, and frees students to write creatively.

  • Haiku poems provide a platform for students to explore word counts, syllable counts, and parts of speech.

  • Encouraging students to write poems based on personal experience helps them to view poetry as something connected with everyday life.

  • Teachers should create a safe, low-risk environment in which to share and experience poetry.
  • When students work with classmates in pairs and in small groups, they are often more interested and engaged in activities than when they read and write alone.

  • One of the most popular ways for children to publish their writing is by making books.


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.
  • 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.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

Materials and Technology

  • One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis (Viking, 2002)

  • Classroom computer with projection capability

  • Computers with Internet access and word processing software

  • Writing materials (writer's notebooks, pencils, paper)

  • Publishing materials (book binding tools, scissors, glue, art supplies, stickers, die-cuts, construction paper)

  • Chart paper and markers




1. Obtain one or more copies of the book One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Davidson Mannis. Choose a poem from the book and write it on a large piece of chart paper. To make it easy for students to read and for demonstration purposes, write each line using a different color.

2. Collect additional haiku books, starting with the suggestions on the Haiku Booklist. Note: If your school is in an urban area, try to include copies of A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes and Stone Bench In An Empty Park by Paul Janeczko and Henri Silberman, which have adapted haiku to urban U.S. settings.

3. Make copies for each student of the Picture This! Picturesque Word Wall and Haiku Pattern Template handouts.

4. Test and bookmark the WordCentral and Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion websites on your classroom or school computers. Familiarize yourself with these websites and make sure they work properly on your computers.

5. Bookmark the online examples of haiku poetry from the website Haiku Gallery. Study the examples to familiarize yourself with the form and elements of haiku.

6. Familiarize yourself with the interactive tools Theme Poems and Multigenre Mapper and decide whether you would like students to use these tools in Session 5. If so, test and bookmark the tools on your classroom or school computers and make sure that they are working properly. (You will need to have the Flash plug-in installed.)

7. Visit the Nature Walk site for ideas about how to conduct an observation walk. If you wish to have students read this information, bookmark the site on your classroom or school computers.

8. Plan a Haiku Hike field trip for Session 2 in the area around your school, and get the necessary permission for the trip from the school administration and parents.

9. Based on your students' background and experience with poetry, choose one or more poetic devices as your focus for a discussion of poetic imagery in Session 1 (e.g., metaphor, simile, personification, and assonance). Find appropriate examples of each, preferably using poems from the Haiku Booklist.

10. Prepare a sample scrapbook page complete with a haiku poem, informational notes, stickers, simple sketches, etc. to display. If students will be using the Multigenre Mapper tool or the Theme Poems tool, use these tools in creating the sample page.

11. (Optional) Introduce students to the comprehension strategy of making connections (text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world). You may wish to use the lesson "Guided Comprehension: Making Connections Using a Double-Entry Journal."

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Become familiar with the elements of haiku poems

  • Learn the value of descriptive words (adjectives and verbs) in creating verbal imagery

  • Research and write informational notes

  • Learn to sort words by number of syllables

  • Practice working collaboratively as they write original haiku and plan and create a classroom publication

Session 1: What is Haiku? Before Reading

1. Introduce the book One Leaf Rides the Wind by asking students if they know what haiku is. If necessary, supplement students' responses to include the following information:
  • Haiku is a short poetry form that was developed in Japan.

  • Haiku poems can tell a story or create a picture in your mind.

  • Haiku themes include nature, feelings, and experiences.

  • Most traditional haiku poems include a kigo, a seasonal word or phrase.

  • Adjectives or "picturesque" words are often used.

  • Traditional haiku consists of 17 syllables written in three lines. There are five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.

  • Haiku does not rhyme.
2. Lead students on a picture walk through the illustrations in the book. Ask students to tell you what they see during the picture walk (e.g., trees, leaves, flowers, a cat, fish, birds, a bridge, a house).

3. Introduce the idea of imagery, the use of descriptive words (adjectives and verbs) to create a picture or image in the reader's mind. Discuss some devices that can be used to create poetic images (e.g., metaphor, simile, personification, and assonance).

During Reading

4. Read one or two haiku poems aloud to students. (If you prefer, have students take turns reading different parts of the poems.) Encourage students to listen for ways that the author paints a picture using verbal imagery. Instruct them to jot down notes about the imagery in their writer's notebooks and be prepared to share their observations with the class.

5. Allow students to share their thoughts about how the author used imagery. Compile their responses and examples on a large piece of chart paper.

6. Write the word Haiku at the top of another large piece of chart paper. Ask students to recall the important elements of haiku, and list these features on the chart, reviewing all the points covered in your introductory discussion (see Step 1).

7. Read several additional examples of haiku from the books you have collected. Pause after each poem to allow students an opportunity to count the syllables in each line.

After Reading

8. Have students write responses to one (or several) poems of their choice. Provide an opportunity for students to revisit the text, if necessary. Suggest that their response include
  • What they enjoyed most about the haiku poem they selected

  • Any text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world connections they were able to make (see Preparation, Step 11)

  • A list of descriptive words that they gleaned from the poem or poems
Have a few students share their responses with the class.

9. Introduce the idea of an observation walk using suggestions from the Nature Walk website.

Homework: Send home the writer's notebooks with students. Tell students to take a 10-minute walk through their neighborhood and write down a list of things they observe in nature. Point out that this list will be similar to the list they compiled during their picture walk in class (e.g., trees, leaves, flowers, a cat, fish, birds, a bridge, a house). Tell students to try to include a picturesque word to describe each of the things on their list.

Session 2: A Good Day for a Hike!

1. Prepare students for the hike by asking them to re-read the words and descriptions they recorded in their writer's notebook for homework. Have four or five students volunteer to read aloud what they wrote, and record a few examples on a large sheet of chart paper. If needed, demonstrate for students how to make their observations more descriptive (e.g., brilliant sunshine instead of bright sun, or grass glittering with dew instead of wet grass).

2. On a large piece of chart paper, write examples of picturesque words from the haiku in One Leaf Rides the Wind (e.g., snarling, startled birds, roofs stretch, adrift, pink-cheeked blossoms, glittering koi).

3. Inform the class that in this session they will take a Haiku Hike and collect picturesque or scenic words in their writer's notebooks. They will record adjectives and verbs that come to mind, draw simple sketches of images they see, and record important details or observations they make. Explain that they will be writing about the experience later and using the words they collect in their notebooks to create group haiku poems, so they should take lots of notes.

4. Take students on the hike. Instruct them to write down their observations about their surroundings. Encourage them to find something interesting and look at it closely for at least five minutes. Point out things that students may not notice or pay attention to, recalling the suggestions from the Nature Walk site.

5. Set a good example! Collect words and notes in your notebook as well.

Session 3: Picture This! You Can Write Haiku Too!

1. Tell students that they are well on their way to becoming authors of their very own class book.

2. Revisit the features of haiku on the chart you completed in Session 1 to remind students of the traditional form of haiku.

3. Using a computer with Internet access and a projector and screen, display examples of student-created haiku from Haiku Gallery.

4. Work together as a class to identify the poems that follow the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern and those that do not.

5. To introduce the idea of revising, choose one or two nontraditional haiku poems from Ms. Walter's Class Poetry Page and discuss what would need to be done to change them so that they follow the traditional pattern (e.g., replace some words with words that have fewer or more syllables).

6. Pass out a copy of the Picture This! Picturesque Word Wall handout to each student. Demonstrate how to sort words by syllables and record the words in the correct columns on the handout. Have students use the handout to sort the words they have gathered in their writer's notebooks.

7. Display the poem from One Leaf Rides the Wind you have written on chart paper. Point out how the descriptive and/or action words create images in the reader's mind.

8. Pass out copies of the Haiku Pattern Template and read it aloud explaining how to use it. Using chart paper, model how to select a topic and compose a haiku poem using words from your Word Wall handout.

9. Divide the class into small groups (3 to 4 students per group).

10. Tell students to collaboratively create a haiku poem using words from their personal Word Wall sheets. As students are working, walk around the class and conduct miniconferences, briefly offering additional instruction or help as needed. If time permits, encourage students to create additional haiku.

11. When all students have completed the assignment, provide the opportunity for each group to share their poem (or poems) with the rest of the class.

Session 4: Facts for Informational Notes

1. Using One Leaf Rides the Wind as a model for writing, revisit the text with students, this time taking a closer look at the informational notes in the book.

2. Discuss the difference between facts and opinions.

3. Using a computer with Internet access and a projector and screen, lead the class through the Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion website tutorial. Guide the class through the tutorial, allowing students to participate by selecting the correct answers to the questions.

4. Have students get back into their groups and use print and online resources (the school or classroom library and Internet sites such as WordCentral) to gather facts about the topics of the haiku poems they created in Session 3. Instruct students to record interesting facts that they find in their writer's notebooks.

5. Explain that each student in the group must write a note providing a different bit of factual information about the group's haiku topic. Remind students to write their names and the date on the paper with their notes. Collect the informational notes for assessment and guide students in revising if necessary.

Session 5: Publishing With Pizzazz!

1. Show students the sample scrapbook page that you created, complete with a haiku poem, informational notes, and a simple illustration. Explain that each group will complete a similar page to contribute to the class book.

2. Show students all the writing and publishing materials that are available for their use (e.g., lined and unlined white paper, pencils, colored pencils and other art supplies, scissors, glue, stickers, die-cuts, construction paper).

3. Pass out a large sheet of construction paper to each group to use for their page for the class book.

4. (Optional) Demonstrate how to use the Multigenre Mapper online tool to plan or create a scrapbook page. They can type the topic in box A, the haiku in box B, and the informational notes in box C and draw an illustration in the picture box. Remind students that they must print the page before exiting the program. Have them glue the printed page to their large piece of construction paper and decorate it (e.g. adding stickers around the border).

5. (Optional) Demonstrate how to use the Theme Poems tool to give their haiku shape! Encourage students to use the online Shape Poem generator if an appropriate shape is available. Remind students to print their shape poem, then cut out the shape, glue it to their construction paper, add their informational notes (typed or handwritten), and add other decorations as desired.

6. Allow each group to choose how they will publish their work. Students can hand write their poems and informational notes or use word processing software. Remind them to proofread the text and correct or revise if necessary before attaching the final version to their page for the classroom book. Encourage them to use the art supplies provided to illustrate the haiku and decorate the pages.


  • Encourage students to read the additional titles on the Haiku Booklist.

  • Invite students to write haiku poems individually and add informational notes. These individual works can also be published and added to the class book.

  • Read aloud the animal riddles in haiku form in If Not For the Cat by Jack Prelutsky (HarperCollins, 2004) and encourage students to create their own haiku riddles.

Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Collect students’ writer’s notebooks with notes from their neighborhood nature walks to informally assess their understanding of descriptive language.

  • Keep observational notes concerning students’ participation in discussions and group work.

  • Collect the informational notes gathered by students during Session 4 and assess for accuracy and relevance.

  • Use the Haiku Evaluation Rubric to assess students’ contributions to the classroom haiku book.


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