Teaching Writing

Pocket-Sized Poetry: Haiku Prompts for Writing Outside


This resource is available to support place-based writing outside anytime of year and comes with related resources and age-level recommendations. Originally developed for Write Out (writeout.nwp.org).

“Haiku is a way of culling things from the stream of things that rush past the senses.” – Michael J. Rosen

A Haiku is a form of poetry originated in Japan that uses only seventeen syllables broken up into 3 short lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 syllables again. Traditionally, haiku poems focus on nature and are written with simplicity and directness.

Below you’ll find two short videos  – one from an educator and the other by a Park Ranger – giving their own descriptions of the haiku form along with prompts to write your own.

Writing Sparks

Spark from Delaware Water Gap – Go outside and write a haiku based on your experience.

Content focus: Haiku writing
Age-level recommendations: beginning learner, intermediate learner
Time: 2:13

Ranger Chris walks through a section of the nearly 70,000 miles of woods that straddles New Jersey and Pennsylvania known as the Delaware Water Gap to teach you about the tiny Haiku form of poetry. He makes understanding the 5/7/5 syllable structure a snap! by clapping his hands one time for every syllable, and then he shares his own pocket-sized poem that was inspired by his walk in the woods on an early Autumn day.

Spark from Wileena Booker – Noticing Nature and Write a Haiku.

Content focus: Haiku writing
Age-level recommendations: beginning learner, intermediate learner
Time: 4:18

Educator Wilamena stands under a tree in the Stasburg Community Park, a natural park of native plants that is fully maintained by local volunteers, and writes a Haiku about the breeze. She speaks her 3 lined poem out loud so we can count the 5-7-5 syllable structure with her and then she prompts you to go outside and compose your own Haiku!

More about Haiku

Academy of American Poets Glossary: Haiku – Founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry— the producer of Poets.org, Poem-a-Day, National Poetry Month, and more.

The Haiku Foundation – The mission of The Haiku Foundation is to archive our first century of English-language haiku, to expand possibilities for our second, and to seek active exchange with other haiku languages and cultures around the world.

This post is part of the Poetry-powered Prompts for Writing Outside collection.