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Haiku Straw and Ink Paintings

Haiku Straw and Ink Paintings
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Students will learn how to write a Haiku poem. They will then discover how to make an ink painting to illustrate their poem.



  • Learn about haiku poetry.
  • Have the experience of writing a haiku.
  • Make an ink painting to enhance the haiku.

What You Need:

  • Haiku poems
  • Example of a Japanese brush painting (optional).
  • Straws
  • White construction or other heavy paper
  • Higgins Black ink with dropper
  • Brush and water jar (optional)
  • Pink tissue paper (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Tell students about HAIKU poetry and read some old and new examples.Structure of Japanese 17th century Haiku poems:
    • Have 3 lines (in classical structure the first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7 syllables, the last has 5 again, but that doesn’t necessarily work in English, because the English language doesn’t have as many words to describe the same things as the Japanese language does.)
    • Refer to nature
    • Use ordinary things to talk about significant issues like finding happiness in the beauty of nature, dying, falling in love, being left alone, not having friends, etc.
    • Can be happy, sad, humorous, frightening, etc.

    The mighty Eagle
    Catches prey with talons bare
    Listen to the squish

    Night and silver moon
    Neighbor playing on his flute
    Very out of tune

    Small, alone, a child
    Sobs and tears in a corner
    Darkness gives a hug

    Winter rainy day
    Playing in the big puddles
    Water everywhere

  2. Have student write a haiku poem. Check it for nature references and correct form.
  3. Have student neatly write the poem on the top left corner of the white paper.
  4. Drop a few (just need a tiny bit) drops of black ink on the paper (not on the poem part).
  5. With a straw, blow the ink around. If you get close you can move it all over the page to get branch-like shapes and little spidery shapes. If you blow hard, you get splat shapes.
  6. For older students, you can add “raindrops” by dipping a brush in ink, then putting it in water to dilute the ink, then holding the brush over the paper and tapping the brush lightly to make drops.
  7. For younger students, you can add “flowers” to the branches by gluing bits of crumpled pink tissue paper to the branches of the dried painting.
  8. Mount on large black paper to make a border around the painting.

Students of all ages LOVE this project, and the combined paintings make a great bulletin board display!

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