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Haiku Lesson Plan

Haiku Lesson Plan

Haikus are a great opportunity to teach traditional Japanese culture, as well as new vocabulary, and the added bonus of writing on 原稿用紙(げんこうようし)paper. Start by introducing the differences between English and Japanese haikus:

Haikus written in English have three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7, and the final line has 5 syllables again. The topic of the poem is not limited to anything, and they’re usually quite a fun poem to read, as the authors use the restrictive syllables to get creative.

Japanese haikus are more rigid in some areas, and less in others. There is no set line structure, but there is still the limit of 17  音 (おんsyllables). They are often split into two lines, with the second line offering a surprise twist or juxtaposition. Haikus usually have the topic of daily observation, the four seasons of the year, and the beauty and appreciation of nature.

 

One of the most famous 俳句 of all time was written by Matsuo Bashou (1644 – 1694)

古池や蛙飛び込む水の音

ふるいけやかわずとびこむみずのおと

Old pond

A frog jumps in

The sound of water

 

The imagery in this poem is quite strong since the concept is so simple. The 蛙 (かわず) is the indicator of the season – in this case it’s Spring, which is when frogs come out. In Japanese, the word that indicates the season is called 季語(きご). Challenge your students to include a 季語.

 

Historical and social impact of 俳句

Haikus written in English have three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7, and the final line has 5 syllables again. The topic of the poem is not limited to anything, and they’re usually quite a fun poem to read, as the authors use the restrictive syllables to get creative.

Japanese haikus are more rigid in some areas, and less in others. There is no set line structure, but there is still the limit of 17 on (syllables). They are often split into two lines, with the second line offering a surprise twist or juxtaposition. Haikus usually have the topic of daily observation, the four seasons of the year, and the beauty and appreciation of nature.

Japanese poetry has revolved around lines of 5 and 7 on for over 400 years, first starting with poetry like 和歌(わか) which evolved from early Shinto rituals. 和歌 was refined into 短歌(たんか) and further evolved into the 俳句 we know today.

Poetry was reserved for aristocrats and nobles, and being a skilled poet was a highly desirable characteristic to have. People who were skilled poets were able to rise up social ranks. Poetry and written language play an important role in preserving Japanese history and mythology, with the earliest record of Japanese mythology being written in the year 710. It is called the Kojiki, and tells the history and relationships of celestial deities, the origin of the gods, and the birth of the first emperor.

 

Image from http://tanji.jp/

文法 / Grammar

If you have more advanced students, Haikus are a great way to demonstrate the free word order of Japanese.

Take for example:

 

母が子猫にそれをあげる

母がそれを子猫にあげる

それを子猫に母があげる

それを母が子猫にあげる

子猫にそれを母があげる

子猫に母がそれをあげる

 

For early learners, this is a great opportunity to practice different verb endings so that they verb they want to use will fit into the on count.  Try practicing:

Dictionary form う・る

Te-form

Past tense

Negativesません・ない

 

A third option is different ways of listing.

い・な adjectives

たり、たり、する

 

単語 / Vocabulary

漢字 読み方 英語 季語
はる Spring Spring
Tree
はな Flower
さくら Cherry blossom
咲く さく To bloom
温かい あたたかい Warm
鳴く なく To cry/sing (as in bird’s song)
花見 はなみ Flower viewing
うめ Plum
なつ Summer Summer
太陽 たいよう Sun(shine)
あめ Rain
暑い あつい Hot
梅雨 つゆ Rainy season
青空 あおぞら Blue sky
水泳 すいえい Swimming
昼寝 ひるね Nap
あき Autumn Autumn
かみなり Thunder
稲妻 いなずま Lightning
台風 たいふう Typhoon
天の川 あまのがわ The Milky Way
ほし Star(s)
つき Moon
七夕 たなばた Tanabata Festival
お盆 おぼん Bon Festival
ふゆ Winter Winter
ゆき Snow
初雪 はつゆき First snow
寒い さむい Cold
お正月 おしょうがつ New Year’s
布団 ふとん Futon
炬燵 こたつ Heated table
なべ Hot pot

 

原稿用紙 / Traditional writing paper

There are many resources for Japanese writing paper, but here are a few general rules that are relevant to writing a Haiku:

  1. Write from right to left, up to down.
  2. The title is written on the far right line, with three blank boxes above it.
  3. The poem starts on the third line from the right, leaving one box at the top of the line (like a paragraph indent).
  4. Punctuation marks are put in the upper right corner of their own box, unless it is the first box on a new line – in this case, the punctuation squeezes into the last box of a line in the lower right corner (in the same box as the last character).
  5. Students should write their name on the left line after their text, in カタカナwith a ・between their last and first names. Leave one box empty at the bottom of the line (so they will need to work backwards from the bottom to ensure enough space).

Download 原稿用紙 from this link!

 

Example Lesson Plans / Based on a 50 minute period

Time Activity Student : Teacher Ratio
0 to 10 minutes Settling class, introducing topic and distributing resources for the class. 0:1
15 minutes Short seminar style talk on haikus, and addressing the above information. Take questions from students and run through at least one grammar point together. 3:7
25 minutes Give students the vocabulary list and have them write a haiku. Assist where necessary. 8:2

 

Time Activity Student : Teacher Ratio
0 to 10 minutes Settling class, introducing topic and distributing resources for the class. 0:1
10 minutes Explain how to use 原稿用紙 and allocate a list of 漢字 relevant to your current topic to practice handwriting. Answer questions and correct students’ stroke order and writing styles. 3:7
30 minutes Provide students with questions relevant to the current topic you’re teaching and have them write their answers on 原稿用紙 or have them write a 俳句!Assist where necessary. 8:2
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