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About this activity

This activity is all about words and pictures.

It encourages students to respond creatively with words to artworks inspired by the different seasons.

The activity would work well as a classroom or homework activity.

Winter Words

Winter Words

Paul Taylor (b.1961)

University of Cumbria


The 'Have a go!' activity instructions have been written so that older students can create a haiku as self-directed activity. Younger or less able students may need more help with researching and writing their haiku.

What is a haiku?

Explain to your students what a haiku is and task them with writing a haiku.

The haiku is a short Japanese poem that often responds to nature and the changing seasons. In seventeenth-century Japan, they were often written by artist-poets (most famously Matsuo Bashō) who would incorporate them into haiga paintings.

In their English variant, haikus tend to be composed of three lines with the following syllabic structure:

Five syll-a-bles first,
then sev-en syll-a-bles next,
then a fin-al five.

Sometimes English haikus have fewer syllables per line, but in most cases, the middle line will be the longest.



2015, two wooden pillars with a poem impressed into them by Jon Plunkett (b.1975) and Patricia Ace (b.1969)

The haiku form is a good way to experiment with writing poetry if you are new to it.

  • It is a short form so is quick to read, write and share.
  • Rhyme clichés are easily avoided as no rhyming is required.
  • It encourages writers to focus on something visual and concrete (like an artwork!), which is always a good starting point for writing poetry, rather than getting caught up in abstract thought.


Have a go!

Have a go at creating your own haiku inspired by the seasons. Here's how...

1. Inspiration: choose an artwork that inspires you

We have pulled together some summer, autumn, winter and spring-themed artworks below for you to use as a starting point.

You could also search Art UK's website to find your own artworks. (Search for the names of the seasons, and also try searching for words that you associate with the different seasons such as 'snow', 'buds', 'sunshine', 'holidays' and 'harvest'.)


Browse winter-themed artworks and choose one that inspires you.


Put a spring in your step (or words!) with these spring-themed artworks.


Warm up your inspiration with these summery artworks.


The days are drawing in… Feel inspired by autumn's colours.

2. Note down your first thoughts

Write down your first impressions of the artwork you have chosen.

This could be about what you can see in the artwork (the scenes, the colours, etc.) or what it makes you feel. It could also be about a memory that the artwork makes you think of.

3. Write your haiku

Use your notes to write your haiku.

Choose the words or ideas that you like best and see if you can form them into the structure of a haiku.

Remember that haikus are usually composed of three lines with the middle line being the longest. And they often have a syllabic structure of five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line and five in the last line.

Try writing a few haikus experimenting with different words and ideas, and choose the one that you think works best.

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