wabisabiThis was another National Poetry Month lesson I did with first grade. We talked about haiku, and amazingly enough they got it! We learned that haiku usually has 17 syllables–5 in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third line–and we read Mark Reibstein’s excellent Wabi Sabi. They loved Ed Young’s illustrations and were constantly trying to figure out what was drawn and what was taken from photos. I really wasn’t sure the kids would get this book, it’s very subtle and addressed beauty in simple things. I need to give them more credit, because they got it. And without really being able to verbalize why, they understood that haiku was poetry even though it didn’t rhyme. They just liked the way it sounded, and they understood that it was different from regular lines in stories.

We counted out the syllables together so they could see how they added up.

Then we read Jon J Muth’s Zen Ties to follow up Zen Shorts, which we read during our Caldecott unit. This was trickier because Muth’s author’s note explains the poems Koo speaks in are not always exactly 17 syllables. He wanted them to feel spare like haiku, but it wasn’t an exact science. But the kids love Stillwater the Panda, so they just enjoyed the story (which also let us talk about being nice to people even when they don’t seem like they’re very nice).

It was fun, I tried this as an experiment and they really went with it.