Haiku poems may be short in length, but they’re long on vivid
description and imagery that make the most of every word.
Though there are variations, the typical haiku poem contains three lines with a specific syllabic pattern:
Line 1 = 5 syllables
Line 2 = 7 syllables
Line 3 = 5 syllables
For a special holiday twist on the traditional nature-themed haiku, invite your children to pattern a haiku poem after a Christmas carol. This can be challenging, making it a good activity for teens, but younger children might also enjoy giving it a try.
Since it’s rare for the lines of a carol to match the requirement of 5-7-5 syllables, they’ll need to do some creative rearranging of words and lines. Just make sure they stay true to the message of the original song.
Tips for Turning a Carol into a Haiku
Add or remove words to create an accurate syllable count.
O what Child is this (5)
On His mother’s lap, sleeping? (7)
He’s the King of Kings. (5)
Silent, holy night (5)
The Virgin Mother and Child (7)
Sleep in perfect peace. (5)
Hint: If the line has too many or too few syllables, find a synonym or replacement for one of the words. Sleep in heavenly peace contains 6 syllables, but by changing heavenly to perfect, the line now has 5 syllables. Sometimes a thesaurus will be useful in helping your child find an alternate word.
Swap the order of the lines.
Earth receives her King (5)
Ev’ry heart prepares Him room (7)
Joy to the world. Joy! (5)
Pick and choose lines from the carol.
Hark! The angels sing (5)
Glory to the newborn King (7)
Join in the triumph. (5)
Babe in a manger (5)
Jesus lay down His sweet head (7)
Asleep in the hay. (5)
Combine ideas from several lines of the carol.
Town of Bethlehem… (5)
Tonight, everlasting light (7)
Shines in your dark streets (5)
O red-nosed Rudolph (5)
It’s a foggy Christmas Eve (7)
Drive my sleigh tonight. (5)
Dashing through the snow (5)
In a one-horse open sleigh (7)
O’er the fields, laughing. (5)
Choose a lesser-known verse from the carol.
Come to Bethlehem (5)
Worship Christ on bended knee (7)
He whom angels laud. (5)
(based on “Angels We Have Heard on High”)
. . . . .
Need some ideas to get you started? Ambleside Online’s Holiday Carol Book and Caroling Corner list dozens of popular (as well as lesser-known) Christmas songs, along with lyrics, to inspire your young poets.
Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.