Haiku poetry, 1st graders, and Yoga

I love poetry. So you can imagine my excitement when my son’s 1st grade teacher told me they were introducing poetry to the class. His teacher and I have been working on the integration of class topics with movement and yoga.

Since yoga to me can really be poetry of movement, this particular class of integrative learning seemed reasonable and practical. Sometimes in movement as in poetry we have a rhythm and rhyme, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we have a choreographed sequence, and sometimes it is a free form and fluid within its own spontaneity. With children, finding the balance of this teaching without imposing on their natural poetry of movement was my challenge. I also was challenged by limited time: 15-20 minutes in the afternoon at the end of the day, when they were already tired and worn out.
The teacher had just introduced the concept of “non-rhyming poetry” and the kids had heard several examples already. I was set up perfectly to introduce Haiku’s.
Haiku poetry originates from Japan and consists of 3 lines with a 5-7-5 form: the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, the 3rd line has 5. It was easy enough to introduce the idea of this, and explain Haiku in terms of a riddle within a particular form, using nuances and play on words. Each Haiku I wrote represented an animal or something in nature, the kids got to guess what the Haiku meant, and then act out via a yoga pose. One of the poems was a bit too obvious but I started with that one so they got the idea. Here are a few examples:
Armor scales on me
I breathe fire into the night
powerful alert
jump on lilypads
water rushing and still now
long tongue catches a fly
Eagle (everyone said an owl)
Eyes peer through the mist
Sharp beak, broad wings soar above
Small creatures I eat!
summer is coming
blooming, reaching for the sky
red yellow purple
Hard on the outside
i love to be safe inside
huddled in my shell
heavy strong solid
sit silently on the ground
curled into a ball
They loved it! I had to set a few rules to make sure that the kids who were slower in getting it were not left behind: freeze when you get it and don’t say a word (this was difficult for some)…each person got a turn to get a poem…we held the yoga pose for 20-25 count out louds…they could make the sounds of the animals with the pose…they loved being apart of that rule game as well.
All in all a worthwhile experience for all.
If you have a chance, try this at home with your kids, make it a family activity to make them and then act out together. No poetry gift required! 🙂