Learning Resource Type

Learning Activity

Dancing to Haikus-Part 1: Identifying Syllables

Subject Area

English Language Arts
Arts Education




The teacher will introduce students to the word syllable and demonstrate to students how to count syllables in words using the digital tool. Next, the teacher will read a haiku poem to students and have the students count the syllables in the haiku using the strategy demonstrated in the video clip. Lastly, the teacher and students will read a variety of haiku poems, with the teacher encouraging the students to identify the syllable pattern in each poem using non-locomotor movements. The students will use mental math to calculate the number of syllables present in each line of a haiku poem and describe how this pattern supplies rhythm in a haiku. 

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit.

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 2


    Identify rhyme schemes in poems or songs.

    Unpacked Content



    • Rhyme schemes
    • Poems
    • Songs


    Students know:
    • Rhyme schemes are patterns of sound that repeat at the end of a line or stanza in a poem or song.


    Students are able to:
    • Identify rhyming words in poems or songs.
    • Identify the pattern of sounds that repeat at the end of a line or stanza in poems or songs.


    Students understand that:
    • Rhyming words have the same vowel and ending sound.
    • Poems and songs often have a pattern of rhyming words, called a rhyme scheme.
    Mathematics (2019) Grade(s): 2


    Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies such as counting on, making ten, decomposing a number leading to ten, using the relationship between addition and subtraction, and creating equivalent but easier or known sums.

    Unpacked Content



    • Fluently


    Students know:
    • how to use mental strategies to add and subtract within 20.


    Students are able to:
    • use addition and subtraction strategies efficiently.


    Students understand that:
    • fluency involves a mixture of "just knowing" answers, knowing answers from patterns, and knowing answers from the use of strategies. The word fluently is used in the standards to mean accurately, efficiently, and flexibly.
    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 2 - Dance


    Connect a variety of moments while manipulating the elements of dance through locomotor and non-locomotor movements.

    Unpacked Content



    • prompts
    • elements of dance
    • locomotor
    • non-locomotor
    • dance phrase
    • structure
    • concept and inspirations
    • for choreography
    • dance phrase
    • improvisation
    • notation

    Essential Questions

    EU: Choreographers use a variety of sources as inspiration and transform concepts and ideas into movement for artistic expression.
    EQ: Where do choreographers get ideas for dances?

    Skills Examples

    • Execute a sequence of movements in different ways (i.e., different levels, timing, directions, body parts).
    • Create a dance based on a short story, with a beginning, middle and end.
    • Create a dance to a short poem and explain why movement expressed the idea.
    • Improvise movement to verbs and adjectives. Recall the movement and sequence to repeat.
    • Using basic stick figures to draw shapes used in a series of movements.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.


    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives

    The students will describe how the syllables in words supply rhythm in a haiku poem. 

    The students will connect a variety of moments while manipulating the elements of dance through non-locomotor movements. 

    The students will fluently add within 20 using mental strategies. 

    Activity Details

    1. Play the video clip: Syllable Video (YouTube, 1:34 minutes). 

    2. After allowing students to view the video clip, have the students practice counting syllables in words using the strategy in the video clip. Display a variety of words using an interactive whiteboard, a traditional whiteboard, or chart paper. 

    3. Ask students to brainstorm additional methods they could use to count syllables in words (i.e. clapping hands, stomping feet, etc.). Group students into partners and have pairs practice counting syllables in the words using non-locomotor movement. 

    4. Display this website for students: Haiku. Read the haiku "Beaches" to students. Next, ask the students to read the poem together as a class. After students are able to read the poem fluently, ask the students to count the syllables in each word. Record the number of syllables in each word. (Note: It would be helpful to have "Beaches" projected on an interactive whiteboard or written on chart paper to record this information.) Lastly, have students use mental math to identify the number of syllables present in each line of the poem.

    5. Repeat the previous activity with at least two other haikus. Students should identify that all haikus have the same pattern: five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. The students may also identify other common elements of haikus, such as: although all haikus have a similar rhythm due to the syllabication, they rarely rhyme, and the topic of many haikus is nature. 

    Assessment Strategies

    Assessment Strategies

    At the conclusion of the activity, the teacher can check for the students' understanding of the stated learning objectives by:

    1. Asking students to describe the syllabication pattern of a haiku poem to a partner. 

    2. Having students use a non-locomotor movement (clapping, stomping, etc.) to count the syllables in a word or phrase. 

    3. Having students count the number of syllables in each word in a line of a poem, then using mental math to calculate the number of syllables present in the whole line of poetry. The teacher can require students to determine whether that line of poetry could fit into the haiku format. 

    Background and Preparation

    Background / Preparation

    The teacher will need to have a computer with internet access and the ability to project sound and video. 

    The teacher will need to have access to several haikus to present to students. A variety of haikus can be found on this website: Haiku.  

    Digital Tools / Resources