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Lesson Plan #:AELP-LIT0010
Submitted by: Jennifer Lindahl
Endorsed by: Don Descy, Mankato State University Date: May 14, 1997

Grade Level(s): 2, 3


  • Language Arts/Literature
  • Science/Entomology


As a teacher, it is necessary to provide many ways to learn. Children learn better in contexts where they feel more comfortable. In this lesson, students who have been studying the spring migration of monarch butterflies have an opportunity to apply what they have learned about the butterflies in a literary way.


Students will have a basic understanding of a haiku poem.


When writing a haiku poem, students will:

  • Observe the rules of haiku rhythm.
  • Incorporate at least one thing they learned about monarch butterflies.
  • Background Information:

    This activity can be used for students with any literary ability. The important thing is not to have a perfect poem, but rather to apply their knowledge in a new and different way. It is helpful if there is a bulletin board available to display student work on when it is finished. Students can write their poems on writing paper, or the teacher can provide paper with a picture of a butterfly at the top, as in this lesson. When the poems are finished, students can mount their poem on black or orange construction paper and find a special place on the bulletin board to put it.

    Concepts: Students will:

  • Know the background information of the haiku poem (where they came from, what they are usually about, when they originated, etc.)
  • Put their knowledge of monarchs into the 5 syllable-7 syllable-5 syllable form of the haiku poem.
  • Procedure:

  • Write the word haiku on the board or the overhead projector. Pronounce the word for the class, and ask for a showing of hands if anyone has ever heard of a haiku poem before
  • Ask if anyone can tell from listening to the pronunciation where the haiku poem comes from. Explain that the poems originated in Japan, and ask for a volunteer to find Japan on the world map.
  • Explain that haiku poems are very old, that they began in 1200 A.D.
  • Haiku poems are very short poems, only 3 lines long, and they are usually about nature.
  • An author once called these poems one-breath poems because you can say them in one breath.
  • There is only one rule when writing haiku poems. You can write them about anything you want, and they do not have to rhyme, but they must have a specific number of syllables. Write this under the word haiku on the board or overhead:
    1. Line 1: 5 syllables
    2. Line 2: 7 syllables
    3. Line 3: 5 syllables
  • Show students several examples of haiku poems you have found in books. Show them one line at a time, and have students clap syllables to be sure it follows the 5-7-5 rule. Examples: Rushing waterfalls Splashing on the jagged rocks Sound like buzzing bees
  • Point out that the examples are about nature, and they follow the guidelines for syllables.
  • Show an example you have written about monarch butterflies to get the students thinking on that line: Monarch butterfly With your painted wings so light Gently fly above.
  • Tell the class that they will be writing haiku poems about the monarch butterflies.
  • Have the class brainstorm to generate a list of ideas which would be appropriate to write about in their monarch haiku.
    1. Monarchs can not fly if the temperature is below 55 degrees.
    2. Monarchs can not walk if the temperature is below 40 degrees
    3. Monarchs have tastebuds in their feet which are 200 times stronger than ours.
    4. Thousands of monarchs migrate from Minnesota to Mexico every fall
    5. Male monarchs die immediately after mating, females immediately after laying their eggs.
  • Write a haiku poem together as guided practice. Ask for a volunteer to give the first line, then count the syllables as a class. Ask for another volunteer for the second line, etc.
  • Remind students that it is important to proofread your first draft. Ask for suggestions of what to look for when proofreading. Make a list on the board for students to refer to when they get to that point:
    1. Spelling mistakes
    2. Capitalization
    3. Punctuation
    4. Syllables
  • Tell students that they will now be writing their own haiku poems. When they have finished their first draft, they must bring it to the teacher to be proofed again. When the teacher has approved the poem, the student will be given a sheet of writing paper to transfer the poem to. ( Note: the teacher should not make content suggestions! The student is free to write anything about monarchs, provided it is appropriate. The teacher should only be checking for spelling, grammar, and syllables.)
  • If possible, have the students mount their poem on construction paper and staple on the bulletin board in any place they choose.
  • Materials:

    • Overhead projector or chalkboard
    • writing paper
    • bulletin board

    Assessment: Assessment should be natural in this lesson. The teacher will be able to tell by what the student chose to write if they have.