Exploring Japan: Haiku

Before we made our Japanese Curry Rice for Around the World in 12 Dishes, we decided to learn about a new form of poetry – haiku.
Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. The short poems consist of 17 syllables (or characters in the traditional Japanese form). The syllables occur in a 5-7-5 pattern. Haiku poems do not rhyme. Most traditional poems focus on nature and are very descriptive.
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We chose the book If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky for our example of haiku. The book consists of several haiku poems that describe different animals.
We had fun reading the poems and then guessing the animal it was describing.
What I loved about this book is that it was a great example of using just a few words to describe an animal. The girls could easily relate to the poems and were eager to try writing a few of their own.
I began by asking each girl to choose an animal. AJ (age 3) chose the cat and Lizzie (age 5) chose the butterfly.
We then helped each other come up with descriptive words and phrases to describe these animals.
Since the girls are still young, I helped them with the phrasing and formatting to fit within the 5-7-5 pattern.
If your child is already reading and writing, challenge them to write their own haiku in the 5-7-5 pattern.
Once we had our haiku written, I had the girls illustrate their poems. (You may notice that AJ asked me to draw her a couple of pictures that she colored in.)
AJ (age 3)
I catch all the mice
I paw the fluffy carpet
I also catch bugs
Lizzie (age 5)
I drink some nectar
From a colorful flower
I hatch from cocoons
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Have you spent any time exploring Japan through food, crafts, or other activity. If you have, we’d love for you to link up to Around the World in 12 Dishes!


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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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