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Free Printable Haiku Starter Worksheet for Poetry Lessons

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The short poem format of haiku makes it an ideal place for kids to begin composing their own poetry. Just fill out the form on this page to grab our free printable haiku starter worksheets for an easy and fun classroom poetry activity.

What is a haiku?

A Poppy Blooms by Katsushika Hokusai “I write, erase, rewrite…”
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This Japanese style is highly structured and often focuses on nature. They seek to capture a brief moment in time in powerful words and phrases. The poems are written in three lines, with five syllables in the first, seven syllables in the second, and five in the third. That format is sometimes broken, especially when poems are translated from one language to another, but they will always contain just three meaningful lines.

How To Use This Haiku Starter Worksheet

Even though haiku are very short, it can be tricky to write a good one. That’s where our free printable comes in! This haiku starter takes kids step-by-step through the process. Here’s how to use it.

Before You Begin

First, ensure your students have a good understanding of syllables. Practice breaking words into syllables and counting them. This will help them when it’s time to build their poems.

Then, share haiku examples with your students. Find terrific haiku examples here to get you started. Ask them what they notice about each poem, helping them to discover similarities like:

  • They all have three lines.
  • The first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7, and the third has 5.
  • Many of the poems are about nature.

Share a bit about the history and purpose of haiku with your students, learning more about some of the famous poets who used this form. Then tell them that they’re going to write their own.

Using the Haiku Starter

The haiku starter worksheet walks kids through the process step-by-step, making things easier for kids who say “I don’t know what to write about!” or “I don’t know what to say!”

Students who find writing poetry comes easily to them might not need to follow every step in detail. But others will appreciate the guidance. Remind every student that because these poems are so short, each word choice is especially important, so it’s worth taking time to get it right.

Here are a few other notes about using this worksheet:

  • Students start by choosing a subject. Though haiku are often about nature, it’s OK to let students choose other topics. It will be easier for them to write if they make a connection with their subject.
  • As students brainstorm a list of words, encourage them to include nouns, verbs, and adjectives. They should also try to find words of varying lengths and numbers of syllables.
  • When it’s time to start writing lines of poetry, invite students to compose a few different versions of a line. Remind them that poets often refine their words until they find exactly the right ones.
  • Once kids assemble their haiku and make any final changes, don’t forget to have them choose a title. Not all haiku have titles, but a good one can be an important part of the poem itself.
  • Have students use the final page of the worksheet to write the final version of their poem, and add some illustrations too. Now they’ve got a poem they can display proudly at school or at home!

Grab our free haiku starter worksheet

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Just fill out the form on this page to get instant access to your worksheet.

If you like this haiku starter worksheet, check out Inspiring Poetry Games and Activities for Kids and Teens.

Plus, get all the latest teaching news and ideas straight to your inbox when you sign up for our free newsletters!

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