Dogs and Haikus-What's the Plot?

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT will use information gained from illustrations and words in print to demonstrate understanding of the characters and plot.

Big Idea

The poetic text and pictures show us the plot!


  • Dogku by Andrea Clements 
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall:poetry, rhythm, plot, character, setting, problem, solution, climax, event, syllables
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • sample haiku on the board
  • 9x11 construction paper and marker
  • lined paper* (I chose to have the kids write on lined paper and use the construction paper for a picture the 2nd time I taught this)
  • Poetry 'tree' (optional)  I'll be using this visual throughout the unit 


I loved this book because it blends poetry and literature!  There are nice clear examples of Haiku in the book and they fit together to create a great plot line. Students often believe that a poem itself is the end result - they read it, look at the picture, and then move on. This book allowed them to see that a series of poems can be blended together to create a story.

The illustrations in this book were wonderful. There is so much information held in those pictures that add to that text. I really want my students to take the time to blend what they read from the fairly limited text with the rich illustrations to create inferences and understand the plot. (RL.2.7) The Common Core Standards ask the kids to go beyond the words and use what the illustrator adds to the text to improve comprehension through prediction, imagery, and inferencing.

I used the 'poetry tree' in all of my lessons in this unit to create a tool that pulled together all of the ideas and kinds of poetry. The kinds of poem are listed down the trunk and the ways that poetry help us are listed on the leaves.Some of my later lessons that allow me to use this vocabulary and the poetry tree are: Poetry What is it?Reading Acrostics-Poetry of LettersPoetry Takes ShapeSynonym, Adjective, Verb.. Put them in a CinquainPieces of Meaning in Free Verse PoetryDon't Worry-Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us, and Long Vowels & Limericks-Looking at Poetry.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Common starting point

  • "We talked at the other day about poetry. Let's take a look at our ideas about poetry."  Review the 'poetry tree'."  (Poetry may have rhythm, rhyme, repeating words, it may not have sentences....)
  • "Today we are going to talk about one kind of poetry called a haiku."  Write that on the tree.
  • "This author uses some really fun Haikus to create a great story about a lost dog that finds a family. Sometimes we read poetry because it's FUN!"  Write that on the tree.
  • This is how this introduction looked.


We discussed how rhyme, rhythm and other elements of poetry add meaning to the text (RL.2.4) in a previous lesson, but it is worth emphasizing again. Students need to realize that the author uses these techniques to specifically help the reader better understand the text and that they bring so much meaning to the poem or story.

This is one of the lessons in the beginning of my poetry unit. I used the 'poetry tree' in all of my lessons in this unit to create a tool that pulled together all of the ideas and kinds of poetry. The kinds of poem are listed down the trunk and the ways that poetry help us are listed on the leaves. I discussed repetition, rhyming and repeated words in my other lessons, including Poetry: What Is It?Poetry Takes ShapeReading Acrostic:The Poetry of LettersSynonym Adjective Verb-Put Them In A Cinquain , Pieces of Meaning in Free Verse Poetry and Don't Worry: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Help Us.

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "A haiku is a poem with 3 lines. It has a pattern of syllables." (Review the idea of syllables - how many syllables in each month.. January 3, February 4,...)
  • "Let's read a haiku and count the syllables in each line."  This was the sample haiku. Count the syllables - 5, 7, 5."
  • "A haiku has 3 lines - the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables."
  • "The story I brought is full of haiku. We'll look at the words and illustrations to figure out the plot of the story."
  • "As we read, listen to the rhythm of the story. Remember, poetry can have rhythm that makes it fun to read."



  • "How do we figure out the plot of a story? We can use a plot line to figure out what is happening. The plot line has the story elements - characters, setting, events, problem and solution."
  • Refer to the story line. "I'm passing out 3 index cards - cut them in half and label them with the story elements - character/setting, event, event, problem, solution, and climax."
  • "As I read, I'll  think about the plot. Since the text is haiku, the text is limited so the illustrations add a lot of meaning."
  • Read the beginning of the book and stop. "On the first card for characters and setting, I'll write 'the dog comes to a house with a family'."
  • Take a minute to verify the haiku pattern in the book. 
  • "I know there's a family because the picture shows a mom and dad with kids. I'll write that on the character/setting card."  Here's how I explained that first event.


Guided Practice

  • "Help me with an event in the story." Read through the page that starts with 'A dog needs a name..."  Make sure to count the syllables to reinforce the idea of a Haiku pattern.
  • "What do the illustrations and words show us?  What event could we write?"  Take ideas - the kids love the dog, he had a bath and some food.  This was our discussion about the dog playing with kids.
  • "Let's add that to the event box."
  • Here is the completed whiteboard after this part of the lesson.

As I read my kids were using other reading strategies - predicting (I think that...) imaging (that family looks different that what I thought) and inferring (Is he named Mooch because he begs?). Encourage this - it's truly to epitome of what we are looking for - readers who use a variety of reading strategies to comprehend the text. Point out these strategies as students use them and guide the class toward more independent use.

Students' Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Now we need to identify the other parts of the story.  You have 3 cards left for another event, the problem, climax and solution."
  • "It's your job to fill out those ideas from the story. You'll need to look at the illustrations and text because both show what is happening."


Let kids work and use formative assessment

  • Continue reading and pause at the pages for another event, the problem, solution and climax.
    • event - page that starts with 'first, "Arf...' or 'Nose out the window....'
    • problem - page that starts with 'chew on dirty socks...'
    • climax - page that starts with 'Dad puts on his coat...'
    • solution - page that starts with 'A new doggy bowl...'
  • In this portion of the lesson, I continued to really emphasize the meaning in the illustrations. My students still want to 'read' through the story to get it done, but need encouragement to take the time to really look at the pictures that bring meaning to the story.
  • As we work, students are sharing out at each stopping place after they write. This is how I use formative assessment - I'm listening to their answers, building on what they say and garnering questions or comments from other students to gauge their understanding.
  • Several of my students continued sharing inferences about the story. Encourage this - they are great models.
  • Encourage kids to do some predicting about the climax of the story. It's a great opportunity to practice that skill and the story really lends itself to some ideas that the kids can relate to (taking care of a pet, pets making a mess)
  • I did put some words up to help with spelling.


Create a plot line

Extend Your Learning

10 minutes

Explain the task

  • "Extend what you've learned by writing your own Haiku about an animal."
  • "Remember the pattern - 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables."
  • "Write the Haiku on the back of your paper and add a simple picture." I did remind them to make a simple picture in the interest of time.
  • This was an example of one of my student's work.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with language challenges may struggle more with this lesson because of the writing involved. They may benefit from working with a partner or from prompts on the whiteboard. They may have the verbal skills to describe the story elements (what the problem is...), but not the skills to describe it in writing. For the haiku writing, I helped a few students with their Haikus.

Those with higher language abilities should be challenged to use more inferences and higher level vocabulary. Instead of just describing the problem - 'the dog made a mess'- they could infer that 'the dog was bored so he got into trouble and created a mess'.