Outdoor Immersive Haikus

Submitted by: Ben Dewar
Grade level: elementary,middle-years,secondary,post-secondary
Core Competencies: creative-thinking,communication,positive-personal-and-cultural-identity
Subject Disciplines: english,fine-arts,language-arts,outdoor-education,health-education,biology

Outdoor Immersive Haikus

The objective of this lesson is to introduce poetry and descriptive writing techniques via authentic sensory experiences outdoors. The duration of the lesson should take approximately 40 minutes

Materials for each student:

– Notebook, pencil, appropriate clothing for the weather

Materials for teacher:

– Dry erase board, written example of haiku (written on dry erase board) and a picture that illustrates it

Method:

Part 1 – Orientation

Briefly introduce and explain the history of Haikus explaining that they’re traditionally nature-themed and the literary equivalent to a photograph. The point is to capture a moment in nature. (5 minutes)

Part 2 – Explain the Haiku form

Structure is typically (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables), though students are welcome to add or drop a beat if they like.  Read an example of your choosing (Basho etc), and show a picture that illustrates this poem. Have students “count the beats” for each line so they have an understanding of how many syllables should be in each line. *Note – some pre-teaching for the concept of syllables may be required depending on participants age and experience. (5 minutes)

Part 3 – Writing with our senses

Draw insight from the class to list all of the senses (sight, sound, smell+taste, touch) and write them down on a portable dry erase board. Invite students to take in their surroundings and consider all that they can see, hear, smell, and feel. *Note – including taste is up to the discretion of the teacher and will necessary measures to prevent toxic ingestion. That said, it can be fun to include with limitations on what it tasted (selective wild berries etc). (5 minutes)

Share out – Ask for students to volunteer those senses and write them down on the dry erase board.  (There should be at least one for each of the senses). Explain that for each of these natural observations mentioned, there is a relationship between each of them and a story that’s yet to be discovered.  (5 minutes)

Part 4 – Free write

Encourage the class to explore the terrain (provide a boundary if need be) and have them begin writing their haiku. *You may want to start with one sense and see if they arrive at others naturally. Circulate and support as needed. (10 minutes)

Part 5 – Share out

Depending on how much time you have, you can have each student share their poem out to the class (5 – 10 minutes depending on the class size). Debrief lesson and challenge students to write a nature haiku every day, or digitally, in their phone notes, or even voice memo.

Follow up lesson (Science/ biology) – Exploration of native plant species, plant, rock and animal identification

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