October 22nd, 2007

Egrets Reading

Teaching Haiku

Debbie, Wendy, Amelia, Kathy
Pacific Asia Museum Courtyard, October 21, 2007

This past weekend seemed to revolve around The Pacific Asia Museum.

On Sunday, Wendy, Kathy, and I ran a one-hour haiku workshop for gifted elementary school children and their parents as part of an all day educational program the museum was hosting. In the photo above, we are standing with Amelia Chapman, the educational director of the museum.

It was a lot of fun. The children seemed to really get into it and wrote some amazing poems. First, I talked very, very briefly about haiku and asked for six volunteers. Those children read pre-selected haiku out of my library of classical Japanese haiku translated into English. (I pre-selected the poems in case they accidentally picked something not suitable for children).

Then, I talked about the season and asked everyone to name the first thing that came to their mind when they thought of Fall or October. I allowed them to repeat words that had already been said. So, they said "pumpkins" and "trick or treat" and "halloween" and "leaves" and other "kigo" that they came up with on their own.

I then told them they were going to use whatever they picked in the first line of their haiku. One girl quickly raised her hand and said, "I just wrote a haiku, can I read it?" I said, "yes" and she said something like:

I step in the mud
with my new shoes

(this is not it exactly - but it's close enough to give you the idea). I was blown away. She was in 4th grade.

Then, we divided into small groups, went off to our own area in the museum and Wendy, Kathy, and I coached our little groups for about 30 minutes before we came back to share what they had written.

It was amazing to see how excited they all were. Even some of the parents. One father was getting married and he wrote a haiku about his upcoming wedding and was so excited that he text messaged his fiance this poem he had written, the first poem he'd ever written. Some of the kids wrote multiple haiku, some as many as six.

It was a very, very fun afternoon.