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Haiku - connection between Text and Art

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Literature +4 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

Using  Project Zero Design Thinking "Making Moves" [ressource 4], this activity explores multiple haikus from the Edo period in Japan. Through an analysis of these haikus, students will gain an understanding of: the different topics explored in haikus, their structure and, how text and image are intertwined. This will lead the students to create their own illustration of haikus from the Edo period. 

Step 1: Notice everything

Have students silently notice every details on the four works of art [ressources 1-3] and take notes - they don't have access to the captions nor the descriptions.

“Notice everything” is a learning move that supports design sensitivity; refer to “Making Moves” [resource 4] for more information.

Step 2: Juxtapose

Have student compare and contrast the works of art with one another and draw conclusion on recurrent patterns, topics, questions they want to further explore.

Step 3: Zoom in on Seated Monk 

Have the students discover the meaning of the text (Japanese and English version) and its structure 5/7/5. [Ressource 5]

Step 4: Envision and Hack 

- First, have the students illustrate one of the four haikus of their choice and explain their design in a Pair and Share activity. You will find in Ressource 6 (haiku.pdf) four different haikus for this activity. Ressources 7 and 8 are examples of student work.

- Then, have the students create their own haiku based on the illustrations of the 2 other works of art (Ressources 2 and 3 - Bats in moonlight and The actors Nakamura Utaemon III as Konobei and Nakamura Matsue III as Shiokumi Kofuji). Once they have finished, have them compare their text with the original haiku.

Step 5: I used to think... now I think...

To wrap-up the lesson, students go back to their initial thoughts about Haikus, text and image and, reflect on what they have learned. 

Seated monk and haiku poem

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Bats in Moonlight

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Seated monk and haiku poem

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery


anne leflot