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Note To Teachers: This is a general lesson plan that refers to resources at The Haiku Foundation. It is designed to provide some structure, and also be flexible, so you can adapt the plan to the needs of your students. While it was inspired by International Haiku Poetry Day (IHPD), hosted by The Haiku Foundation on April 17, the plan may also inspire a collaborative class poem at other times of the year, and with other subjects.


The goal of this lesson is to offer students of all ages the opportunity to create a collaborative poem, inspired by a “Seed Poem” and the poems of others in the writing group.

Lesson Objective:

To learn about haiku through the example of a Seed Poem, and writing new haiku in response to the poem.

Teachers can adapt the lesson to the ages and skill levels of their students. For example, in the early elementary grades, the teacher may wish to guide the class in writing five poems together. Older students may be ready to write individual poems, in response to the Seed Poem. More advanced students may be ready to also respond to the haiku written by others in the group.

Please refer to EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2015: The Year Of Light to see an example.


About 20 – 30 minutes would be required for the initial presentation of the Seed Poem and instructions, along with some class time to write. One suggestion is to then teach the lesson over a few days, to allow time to reflect upon poems and revisions. Plan to share the collaborative poem in a special way.


The materials needed are basic classroom supplies: chalkboard or easel, writing materials etc. If you are able to use a computer in your class, you can show students the materials at The Haiku Foundation website, and/or read at the site as a part of your general preparation.


1. Write the Seed Poem from EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2015: The Year Of Light on a chalkboard or easel.

will anyone
not be taking up his pen?
tonight’s moon
     — Onitsura (1660 – 1723) (translation Jim Kacian)

2. Read the poem aloud to the group a few times. Allow the students a few moments to listen and reflect upon the poem. Perhaps one or two would also like to read the poem aloud. Ask basic comprehension questions about the author and the poem. Connect the poem with their daily lives.

3. Tell the students that for this activity we will write poems in response to the Seed Poem. What new poems will grow from this classic poem, written by them? Write a poem or two together as a group. Then create your lesson from here, according to the ages and skill levels of your students. Would a few more poems generated by class discussion be a good idea? Or are the students ready to work in smaller groups or pairs, or individually, to write new poems?

4. Share the poems and create one collaborative poem, that in turn can be shared with others. Create a printed copy that students can keep and share. A class reading may be scheduled and/or an art activity inspired by the class poem.


This is a non-graded lesson, designed to be a supplement to your formal curriculum. If the students enjoyed the process of creating a collaborative haiku poem, the lesson is a success! The goal is a positive experience with poetry for all.


1. As discussed earlier, this plan can be adapted to meet the needs of students of all ages, in a variety of settings.

2. Some students may need the support of an additional staff person, peer tutor, or parent volunteer, in order to participate. This could relate to their skills in language arts and/or social skills, since this is a collaborative exercise.

3. Accept new ideas and innovations with their haiku. There is a large selection of examples and resources at The Haiku Foundation: traditional, contemporary, and innovative haiku.

Additional Haiku:

where culture
begins – a rustic
rice-planting song
     — Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694) (translation Jim Kacian)

This is the Seed Poem from EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016: Foodcrop Haiku.

The general methods in this plan can be applied to additional poems.

The theme for 2017 is Reconciliation.

perfuming the man
who broke its branch —
plum blossoms
     — Chiyo-Ni (1701 – 1775)


International Haiku Poetry Day

EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2017: Reconciliation Haiku

EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2016: Foodcrop Haiku

EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2015: The Year of Light

For more haiku lesson plans, specific to age and grade levels, please visit The Haiku Foundation Education Resources. The work of several teachers, poets, and scholars is featured there.

We welcome your feedback and hope this lesson is useful.

     — Ellen Grace Olinger
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