Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

A traditional Japanese haiku poem is written in three lines:

5 syllables on the first line

7 syllables on the second line

5 syllables on the third line

Haiku is inspired by nature, combining two different images or ideas together.

My son’s 5th grade poetry unit included haiku inspired by Japanese block prints created by Katsushika Hokusai, considered one of Japan’s iconic artists.

I have block prints by Hokusai below that I photographed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Which prints do you like? Do they inspire you or your kids to write a haiku? Please share your poems! Here are my son’s:

Getting Kids to Write Haiku using Japanese Art

Hokusai The Great WaveThe Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai.

It is Hokusai’s most famous work, and one of the best recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats off the coast of the prefecture of Kanagawa. from Wikipedia

Getting Kids to Write Haiku using Japanese Art


Hokusai flower painting 1

Convolvulus and Tree-Frog by Hokusai.

Each print features a flower and an insect (amphibians were classified as insects).

Hokusai flower painting 1

Chrysanthemum and Bee by Hokusai.


Grosbeak And Mirabilis by Hokusai.


Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, Sundai, Edo by Hokusai.

p.s. I have more related posts here:

Connecting Art and Science with Hokusai’s The Great Wave

2nd Grade Color Poems Using What Is Black? by Mary O’Neill

Poetry Book Lists for Kids

Fun and Easy Ways to Expose Kids to Poetry

Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese Art

More fun reading and writing ideas here:

More ideas to expose kids to Asian culture here:

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Jeffrey couldn’t post his comment due to a glitch so I am doing it for him:

    Mia–I tried to write a comment with a link to your haiku post, but couldn’t remove the link and consequently lost the comment. I’ve worked many years with kids on teaching haiku writing and reading with extreme positive success. It’s all wrapped up in my article titled, “Traveling with Students on a Lifelong Haiku Journey,” on The BAM Radio Network’s blog, ED Words. It also appears on EDUCATIONS NEWS. The piece describes my methods, provides samples of the students’ work from our anthology, DANCING THE SPRING RAIN (grades 2 to 6), and a list of references plus haiku collections.

    With kind regards,

    Jeffrey Pflaum

    Here’s the link: http://www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/traveling-with-students-on-a-lifelong-haiku-journey
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese ArtMy Profile

  2. Haiku art is fun to write.
    MaryAnne recently posted…Adorable and Affordable Quality Back to School ClothesMy Profile

  3. Thank you, Mia, for re-posting my lost comment about teaching haiku. The one thing that I got into with the kids is the idea of “freeze frame”: when you look at some “thing” that gets or grabs your attention, for whatever the reason, this moment of “pause” is a potential haiku–the creative thought and perception needed for writing.

    There is great depth in the haiku–yes, less = more. It triggers skills such as: focusing, concentrating, thinking, feeling, experiencing, reflection, contemplation, creativity, self- and other-awareness, as well as awareness of nature and human nature.

    Haiku is an art and discipline that connects kids-with-the-world and their “worlds.” The haiku is something homeschooling parent-teachers and parents can practice with their children by taking mindful walks around their block or a walk in nature/park, zoo, and the city.

    A note to parents: you teach, learn, and share YOUR haiku with your children as they write their poems. This collaborative effort will trigger a positive, emotional, and pleasurable communication between parent-and-child.

    Also, in my opinion, haiku comes “naturally” to because it appeals to the ways kids see the world and express themselves. They describe their lives through short bursts of words in a patterned sequence of 5-7-5. I used this pattern but told children (grades 2 to 6) it doesn’t have to be exactly in that syllabic scheme–they could deviate with less syllables per line.

    The use of the paintings mentioned in your post is strong; you can also use photographic images, even ads in newspapers/magazines to trigger creative responses. I believe in my article I describe reading haiku orally–both Japanese and Western works–to the class for 10 straight minutes. I read poems, for example, by Issa–sans follow-up questions–to get them thinking creatively and then asked them to write.

    They connected with the haiku and came up with their own original poems. I wanted to stir up the imagination so they would discover open pathways to creativity and self-expression.

    And haiku works well with 7 year olds, and you can even bring it down to K and grade 1–with a little “writing” help from adult educators.

    So haiku away the day and get into the present moments of your life and your children’s…

  4. This comment is fro Erik of This Kid Reviews Books. I’m so sorry but my comments seem to be buggy right now.

    “I love haiku!

    Haiku are easy,
    But sometimes they make no sense,


    Thank you!
    Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Poetry for Kids: Haiku using Japanese ArtMy Profile

  5. Renee Alam

    I loved when we did haiku in English class but it’s not as easy as it sounds or at least I didn’t like how most of mine came out. It really makes you think.

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