Haiku Poetry, Google Earth, and “Wabi Sabi” Too! (Published Version)

Presented by: Margaret Middleton

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


This literacy lesson is designed for 3rd grade students as an introductory lesson to haiku poetry. The teacher librarian (TL), 3rd grade classroom teacher and art teacher will work together on this innovative lesson by utilizing a picture book, Google Earth technology and collage artistry to teach students how to write and illustrate haiku poetry. This lesson is typically done in April during National Poetry Month to help build an awareness and appreciation of poetry.





http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/98 )



Day 1

Direct instruction:

As the 3rd grade students enter the library media center with their classroom teacher the students will be asked to pick a picture card out of a bag and sit down at the learning tables in the multimedia presentation area. There is a picture of a suitcase on one side and a graphic organizer on the other side (See SM1_WabiSabi).  The students will be asked the following two questions:  What picture do you have on your card?  (Everyone should respond by saying a suitcase, luggage, etc...).  Why do you think everyone has a picture of a suitcase on their card?  (You may get a variety of responses; however, usually one student will respond by saying “Are we going on a trip?”).  The TL will inform the students that they are going on a virtual field trip to Kyoto, Japan to learn about a cat named Wabi Sabi (TL shows them the picture book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young).  TL will explain to the students that they will also learn about haiku poetry which is a very important aspect of Japanese culture.


The TL will then introduce the technology tool Google Earth to students and ask them to share any personal or academic experiences they have encountered with Google Earth. The TL will demonstrate how the tool can virtually bring the students to different places in the world including Kyoto, Japan which is where the main character lives in the story Wabi Sabi.


Modeling and guided practice:

Prior to reading the story the classroom teacher will ask the students if they know anything about haiku poetry. The students will brainstorm a list and the classroom teacher will record the answers on a K-W-L chart (using a large flip chart) what they already know about haiku prior to instruction. The teacher librarian will share a story about Japanese culture, The Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place between January and June yearly in various spots throughout Japan. Japanese families go view the beautiful trees in full blossom, have picnics and write haiku poems while sitting under the cherry blossom trees. The teacher librarian can show a picture of an actual Cherry Blossom Tree from Japan.


Direct instruction:

The teacher librarian will also show a poster of National Poetry Month to the students (poster can be acquired at http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/98 ). The teacher librarian (TL) explains that April is National Poetry Month and their school will be celebrating poetry and its vital place in world cultures. The students will be required to write a haiku poem and create an artistic collage (inspired by Ed Young) to complement each poem’s individual topic. All of the poems will be combined and published in the form of a classroom/library book. The students will be working with their 3rd grade teacher, the librarian and the art teacher to complete this literacy project.


Sharing and reflection:

The students are then asked “What do they wonder about haiku poetry?” The classroom teacher (CT) records answers on the K-W-L chart and is now ready to begin reading the picture book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young.


Day 2 (or continuation of Day 1 if on block scheduling)

Direct instruction:

The students are instructed to keep track of the places Wabi Sabi visits on her journey throughout Japan. The students are to record each place using the Graphic Organizer List which is located on the back of the picture of their suitcase.


The CT begins reading the picture book Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young to the class. As the teacher reads each page she points out the unique writing style the author utilizes, which is a combination of brief text and haiku poetry. The story is about a cat named Wabi Sabi who goes on a journey throughout Japan in search of the true meaning of her name. The teacher also highlights the collage artistry utilized by Ed Young to capture the people and places Wabi Sabi visits on her journey.


Sharing and reflecting

After reading the story the students are asked to add to the K-W-L chart by contributing a list of what they learned about haiku poetry after having heard the story.  The students also share their list of places Wabi Sabi visited throughout Japan (Kyoto-city, Kyoto-woods, Mt. Hiei, Ginkakuji-the “Silver Temple” and back home to Kyoto). The teacher records visited places on chart paper.  The TL will then utilize the students’ list of places Wabi Sabi visited and Google Earth to virtually bring students to Kyoto, Japan and take them on a Google Lit trip of Wabi Sabi’s journey. The students will have an opportunity to share their thoughts about the Google Lit Trip.


Direct instruction:

The CT and TL will use Learning about Haiku Worksheet to provide instruction on how to write a haiku poem.  (See SM2_WabiSabi)


Independent practice:

In groups of two the students will practice writing their own haiku using the Haiku Practice Worksheet and Possible Haiku Topics. (See SM3_Wabi Sabi and SM4_WabiSabi) The TL and CT will circulate through each group to observe students’ poetry writing and provide constructive feedback.  Since haiku writing can be quite simple due to the short length of the writing piece the CT/TL will provide students with additional challenges. All challenges will be provided on the handout Haiku Challenges and Enrichment Activities (SM7_WabiSabi).  Students who want a difficult challenge will be allowed to draw their haiku topic out of a hat. Each topic will include more abstract topics and provide a unique challenge for the writer.  Students who would like a moderate challenge will be asked to pick their own haiku topic, write two separate verses (6 lines using 5-7-5 syllable pattern) for the haiku they write.


Direct instruction:

The CT will provide a recap of key elements of a quality haiku poem and inform the students that they will be writing their own haiku poetry classroom book titled “What Am I?” to celebrate National Poetry Month. The students will be required to create a haiku poem without revealing their topic. Their classmates, teachers, and others will have to guess the topic by reading the poem and looking at the accompanying artwork. This turns the poem into a riddle and adds an interesting twist to writing haiku poetry.   The CT will then distribute the What am I? handout (SM5_WabiSabi) and the Haiku Peer Editing Checklist (SM6_WabiSabi). The teacher will provide detailed instructions on the haiku poetry book making project.


The Art teacher joins the lesson and explains her role in the collaborative book making project. The students will be required to make artistic collages (Just like Ed Young’s) for the background of their written haiku poems.


Independent practice:

The artistic collages will be created during art class. Once the collages are completed the poems will be pasted onto each student’s collage to create a single book page for their classroom book titled “What Am I?”

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