Thank you for hosting today’s Poetry Friday link up, Tara Smith! You’ll find a list of today’s poetry posts at Tara’s blog, A Teaching Life.

Happy Poetry Friday, Readers.

It’s May, my month to serve as poet-in-residence at Northfield Elementary School. This is my longest running residency through the Maryland State Arts Council. 11 years!

When I had my orientation meeting with third grade educators this year, they had important information for me. This year’s 3rd graders are active. They need to move! How could we adapt the poetry lessons to meet this need?

We decided to kick off our series of poetry workshops with a haiku hike, inspired by the book HAIKU HIKE from Scholastic. This book won the 2005 “Kids Are Authors” award. It’s a great introduction to haiku and inspired us to go outdoors and gather images for our poems.

Haiku poems have a rich history, steeped in Japanese culture. We talked about a few quick things before we went outside.

  1. Japanese is read from top to bottom, not left to right like English. The 5-7-5 syllable count isn’t a rule, but an attempt to recreate the rhythm of a Japanese haiku. I encourage students to write three lines — short-long-short — or even two lines for their haiku. (We looked at a traditional haiku, in Japanese, from a page in the book WABI SABI, by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young.)
  2. The book HAIKU HIKE introduces the concept of kigo, a word in the haiku that symbolizes the season.
  3. In some classes, we discussed the difference between haiku and senryu.

Then we were ready for our hike.

Each of the five third grade classes went outside for about 10-15 minutes on a series of sunny, very windy days. Wow! They student poets were so observant, paying attention to details small and large.

The wind was so chilly, students lay on the warm blacktop while they wrote down observations.


Thanks to the Northfield 3rd grade team and families for giving me permission to share the students’ poems.

Poet: Jessica M.

Leaves whispering quietly
My name in the breeze
Come outside with me

Modeling for students: flowers in our path/ buttercup turns our chins yellow/ on a haiku hike

Poet: A.J. H.

Itchy eyes
Acorns on the tips of trees
Millions of grass

Poet: Jameson I.

Running in grass
Brown pine cone in our path
Sappy hands

Poet: Sarah B.

On a sunny day
Spring flowers start to bloom
Then I do too


Poet: Sarena D.

Scratch, dirt creaks and crack
Under tree, all alone, far away from home
No movement, no tossing

Poet: Kate A.

Cute little creatures
Scurrying through green tree tops
Eating lots of nuts

Poet: Lucas B.

Shooting star
Some people make a wish
Others just watch

Poet: Milie S.

Shh, the leaves go
Rustled by the spring wind
Nature’s librarian

Poet: Jackson A.

Furious wind
Trees swaying and branches battling
Spring wind war

Poet: Addy M.

Raining, sad, sorrow
Sitting in my lonely shadow
Boom! Crash!

Then, this happened. (Haiku by Ms. Shovan)

windy spring day
student papers take flight
haiku blizzard

Inspired by the wonderful haiku by Northfield third graders, I’ve been working on my own haiku poems this week.

During one of my walks, I took photos instead of notes, then came home and wrote haiku like this one.

May walk
Sun puddles on pavement
Watch your step!

Want to try this lesson with your students? This is the frame I used. Feel free to borrow.

29 responses to “School Poetry Workshop: Haiku Hike”

  1. I love the name on breeze and nature’s librarian. You haiku blizzard is also evocative of the happy chaos nature brings. What an excellent way to introduce poetry to movement. The poems the kids wrote came alive as a result. Love your form, too. So many people forget (or neglect?) the kigo.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Happy chaos! Yes, that’s it. One thing I love about haiku is that I will always remember that moment, because I wrote it down.

  2. What inspiring young poets you’re working with, thanks for sharing their poems!

    I liked your “haiku blizzard,” and I’m going to watch out for those “sun puddles,” on my walk today. I enjoyed all here!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks for reading, Michelle. Going outside inspired the third graders to make close observations. I’m going to make it a regular part of my haiku workshop with kids.

  3. These are lovely haiku! I love how they were able to go outside to observe and then write what they noticed. Who says writing has to be stationary?

  4. Oh, I love this! There’s so much inspiration to be found in nature, and getting outside can be a great way to feed that poetic spirit! 🙂

  5. What fun to have such a history with this school! And I love that you ventured outside even on those windy days.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      It was chillier than we expected. I told the students that they were like poetry-writing lizards, warming their tummies on the sunny blacktop.

  6. Linda Baie says:

    Wonderful to read the students’ writing, Laura. You led them well. There is more than one lovely response, like “Leaves whispering quietly/My name in the breeze” and “spring wind war” plus your own “sun puddles on pavement.” What a nice thing to have worked with this school for so long.

  7. We have Haiku Hike in our library. I love your frame and will use it.

  8. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    “millions of grass”

    “nature’s librarian”


  9. Oh what lucky students to work with a Poet in Residence! And their haiku are wonderful! I’ll have to check out Haiku Hike. You’ve inspired me to write a post about our First Grade buddy class, who have been studying Japanese culture, who just taught my Kindergarten poets to write haiku. Thank you!

  10. What fun! A haiku hike, writing poetry with kids all lead to a blizzard of poetry. The best kind!

  11. Amy Merrill says:

    I love this! Thank you for sharing. I would love to try this with my students!

  12. Oh, consider this entire activity ….sto….er…..barrowed. I could do THIS in my library with my students. The student poems are fantastic. Can you please hug the youngster who wrote nature’s librarian…..tell her I’m a bit more like a tornado in my library. But, she gave me a belly laugh.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Of course, Linda. That’s why I share lesson plans — for you and other educators to test out.

      The nature’s librarian line brought a huge smile to my face.

  13. So much goodness in these compact poems, Laura! These students captured the true essence of haiku – I love different perspectives of what people do when they see a shooting star. =)

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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