In order to still teach the basics of counting syllables and the power of just a few words to tell a story, I created a Haiku Hunt! I found/made up short sentences that had either 5 or 7 syllables that related to Spring. Each student picked an egg from my basket, opened it, and determined how many syllables were in their line. On the floor I had made a huge circle with masking tape pieces that set the structure of the poem (5/7/5). Once they determined their length, they stood on a piece of tape and made a "Haiku Sandwich." The visual of a sandwich helped a lot, since we made 5's with our hands as the bread and said we'd want to stuff it with 7 beats of the good stuff! 2 pieces of bread w/o the insides is just toast! Once they were in their places, I walked around with a mic so that each group could share the Haiku they had created (and I used "magic" since sandwiches can't usually talk... they had to have the mic in front of them! Amazing how easily that quieted them).
We had a great discussion on how poetry uses feeling words, like HEARing the birds chirping, FEELing the warm breeze on your skin, SEEing the flowers bloom and SMELLing their sweet aromas (CCSS.ELA.RL.1.4). We also had discussions on theme and talked about how certain words point us in the direction of understanding what the poem was telling us (CCSS.ELA.RL.1.2).
What I watched unfold with this activity was students quickly understanding they were counting syllables (CCSS.ELA.RF.1.2), not words, and how they became more resourceful and worked collaboratively, rather than asking me for help. We were up moving and not in the normal table/chair classroom setting, which I noticed led to several students contributing more to the discussion than they typically do (CCSS.ELA.SL.1.2). It was a very engaging lesson and many of them called it a game! Below are photos of the set up I had, and the videos will give you an idea of the Haikus we created.
I recommend using this model for other activities - something that gets students on their feet, moving around the room, and collaboratively creating something.