What is a haiku?

Haikus are very short poems, usually about nature, which children often learn to write in KS2. From syllable structure to information about how they're taught in school, we explain what parents need to know.

What is a haiku?

A haiku is a form of poem that originates from Japan.

A haiku has three lines. There can be any number of words, but there must be 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line and 5 syllables in the third line. Haikus do not usually rhyme.

Here is an example of a haiku:

Fresh air after rain
Wet branches drip heavily
The soil is refreshed.

Teaching haikus encourages children to learn about syllables. Because haikus are very short, composing them is a good way of encouraging children to discipline themselves to find a few really good words to describe something.

Haikus in primary school

When children study haikus they will probably be given a range of them to read. They might be asked to perform the haikus, which would help to consider and convey the meaning of the poem. They would need to do plenty of work on looking at the syllables in these poems. (A good activity to support this is for children to clap their hands on each syllable as they read.)

In the process of writing a haiku, they might be given a subject to write about and asked to brainstorm this, by writing several different ideas on a spider diagram.

Some teachers encourage children to think about all five senses, so if they were writing a haiku about autumn, they might be asked to consider sights, sounds, smells, tastes and things you can touch. They would then need to think about their favourite descriptive words and phrases and try to write these into a sentence. They would then need to edit their writing so that they had achieved the correct number of syllables in a each line. This process of drafting, editing and re-writing is crucial to helping children develop as writers.

Look through all our haiku worksheets to help your child have a go at writing some.