A Tree, a haiku nature game

WHR March 2003


 WHChaikujunior – Haiku Exercise Fun

A Tree
A Haiku
Nature Game
Karina Klesko (mom)
and Samantha Klesko (daughter), age 4
Louisiana, USA

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree”
(from: “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer, 1886-1918)

When we read the words, “a tree,” it can force us to think about a tree we have seen before — or one which we can see in a picture — or a tree which is right in front of us.

But as we observe nature carefully, we will become aware of things that we would miss, otherwise.

Let’s try a fun exercise that will help us to look closely at nature. Here is a game that Samantha Klesko and her mother, Karina, like to play to notice the world around them, and to respond with their feelings and thoughts. Parents and their children, and teachers with their students may enjoy making their own versions of the nature game below, to heighten awareness before writing poetry and stories. You may wish to include the five senses — sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, or concentrate on one or two of the senses.

The Nature Game:

Mom: What do you see ?

Samantha: A tree.

Mom: What else do you see?

Samantha: A bird just flew on the top.

Mom: What color is it?

Samantha: Red.

Mom:  What is the bird doing?

Samantha: Singing.

Mom: What else do you see?

Samantha: There are no leaves.

Mom: Anything else?

Samantha: A branch is broken.

Mom: Is that all you see?

Samantha: Well, the spider lives there, that made the web before.

Mom: What happened to the spider web?

Samantha: It rained and washed it all off.

Mom: Anything else about the tree?

Samantha: Remember? We picked figs and the mosquitoes bit my leg.

Mom: Do you think the tree is like a friend?

Samantha: Yes.

* * *

What did Samantha notice?

  • a tree
  • a red bird
  • a red bird singing
  • a broken branch
  • the branches without leaves (tangled)
  • a spider’s home rained out
  • picking figs
  • a friend

Samantha’s poems from the observations:

a red bird
on a broken tree branch

mom and I
picked figs last summer
a red bird in the same tree

no leaves on the tree
the branches all mixed up
waiting for spring

The following haiku came about from the warm feeling of sharing friendship between Samantha and her mother, and by discovering friendship or a connection to the tree in their exercise:

old friends
a bird, a spider
a tree and me

Samantha’s mother likes to write her own haiku, too. Here is one written from their exercise:

a friend and I
stand in the rain together
waiting for spring

Karina Klesko

Sometimes Samantha and her mother write a haiku together from what they both have observed. This kind of writing is called “collaboration.” Here is a haiku written by both Samantha and her mother from the “tree” exercise:

that spider’s web
washed out by the rain
still remembered

Karina and Samantha Klesko

Samantha is 4 years old. Her mother encourages her to compose haiku from these kinds of games. Karina writes Samantha’s observations and answers in a notebook. Then she guides her in writing haiku.

Samantha tells her mother how she wants the sentences and words to be arranged, and what kind of punctuation to use. Her mother enters the finished poems and thoughts into Samantha’s “Daily Journal”.

*Note: Haiku are normally “concrete” instead of “abstract” or “conceptual”. Concrete means that the words are written on subjects as they are perceived with the 5 physical senses. They “show” the scene through the presence vivid images, sounds, smells, textures and tastes. They may employ color, size, degree of light, distance, time, temperature, and many other elements perceived by the senses.

Haiku usually do not “tell about” the scene or say what the author thought about the subject(s), which may be “abstract” or “conceptual” thinking. But the haiku can cause feelings of emotion and inspire many thoughts within the reader, even though words directly expressing emotion are not used.

Haiku generally don’t employ direct “simile”, which is comparing two different things with the words, “like” or “as” — although some can surely be found. Instead, when two things are compared in a haiku, the reader is invited to recognize for himself the connections or comparisons between images — unspoken and indirectly.


This entry was posted in Lessons, Vol 3-1 March 2003 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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