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How to Use Haiku Poetry in Teaching: Multi-sensory Teaching, Rhythm, Rules, Using the Senses, Syllables, Facts

Updated on August 18, 2018
annart profile image

Ann is a retired teacher of literacy and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) to multi-national & dyslexic students, having a DipSpLD

Learning should be Fun!

It’s proven that if teaching uses a multi-sensory approach then it is more effective. Therefore it follows that the more senses used in learning, the better.

Just to remind you; The Senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste

If we can teach using rhythm and music, colour to enhance our sight, texture to delight the touch, pleasing tastes and even smells, then that experience will have more impact on the mind, last longer in the memory and will therefore be more likely to pass into long-term memory. How many times have you remembered an event when listening to a song or a piece of music? How many times have you thought of Grandma’s house and baking when the smell of bread has wafted along the breeze?

Rhythm is music; it is heard, it can be tapped or drummed, it makes you move to the beat. You can see the words, sometimes the colours of them. Poetry, therefore, can be used as a memory tool for all sorts of information.


Information by Haiku!

The most compact, simplest and fun form of poetry I know is Haiku.

Therefore, it is easy to learn; here's one about itself!

It doesn’t take long,

it's disciplined, channels thought -

creates boundaries.

By its nature, it requires a student to think more clearly, more carefully, more precisely to retain the key words of any subject you care to mention - to produce notes in rhythm! It also teaches a student about syllables, the beats of words.

Visual cues can be added to reinforce what is said and written - the more colourful the better. This in turn reinforces the ideas and adds to memory retention. (For some people, days, seasons, numbers & other concepts are seen in colour - it’s called synaesthesia.)

We are already using sight and hearing. We are using voice to say the poem, we are using rhythm and maybe added music. Touch, taste and smell are a little more difficult to incorporate; however, you could paint your words having added cooking flavourings to your paint (mint, strawberry, lemon), so smell can be included. Different textured paper can be used for each separate subject (or even some letters), to make each one ‘feel’ different. Taste is one to use more sparingly, one because of the practicalities, two because it probably doesn’t apply so easily to everything - but you could accompany the French learning with some simple French food like croissant or French bread with powdered chocolate, now and then!


Rock Erosion

The Cornish Coast; waves pound at the rocks
The Cornish Coast; waves pound at the rocks | Source
The Sands of Time
The Sands of Time | Source
A Glacier forms its Path
A Glacier forms its Path | Source

Now It's Your Turn!

Ok, so pull some key words together for any subject you like and see what you can do.

For example, think of Geography and learning about erosion of rocks. What other words relate to that?

waves, wind, water, ice, sediments, weathering, particles, bedrock,

waves/large bodies of water produce coastal erosion

glaciers pluck - ice forms under rock, cracks, rock is carried off

wind erodes sand in the desert, storms can be dangerous.


We need 5 syllables - Waves erode the coast,

then 7 - Particles pounding bedrock,

then another 5 - Holes in lime, a bridge.


Or perhaps:

Wind lifts sand to fly,

Deserts change, shift, reform land,

Storms blind the eyes shut.


Or maybe:

Glaciers pluck away,

Ice seeps cracks to open rock,

Pieces carried off.


Just think of specific words for the subject, words you need to remember, graphic and dramatic words! Once you've got some, the rhymes come fairly easily even if you have to change some words around. Try different combinations until you're happy with the result and it's easy to remember.


And Finally - a few from me

Here are a few more; you can do better and a class full of pupils will pool all sorts of wonderful ideas!

Just pull out the key words and they'll probably suggest their own explanation.

Science, French, Geography, Reading Patterns or any other subject you like; they can all be accomodated within Haiku, given a little imagination. Rhythm and a few words are easier to remember than just plain facts. So try it and see where it leads!


Any Subject - Let the Students have Fun!

Have Fun!
Have Fun! | Source

Competition Time

You could hold a competition for each subject, as to who can create the best haiku; make a book and use it for revision of various subjects!

Teachers could make a subject haiku book or a general revision book, whatever fits the time and place. There must be prizes, of course, for any good haiku!

Good Luck!


Learning is Personal

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© 2012 Ann Carr

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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      It's amazing what you can use for teaching! I just find that the simplicity and speed of haiku is good - helps memory and produces challenge! thanks for your comments and for visiting!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      fun hub. interesting. I had never considered this before

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