October 20, 2021

‘Ohana Engagement, Haikus, and an Invitation to Reflect

I recently had the honor of presenting a workshop at the 2021 Ohana Engagement Conference. This virtual gathering is a partnership between Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii Public Schools, and Hawaii Statewide Family Engagement Centers. The conference theme was “Lift the ‘ohana, school and the community through strengthening their health and well-being.” 

My session, Nature-Based Activities for Indoors or Outdoors, featured many resources from our Kohl’s Healthy at Home resource collection, including one of our most popular: Nature-Based BINGO.  

The workshop brought to life one of the activities featured in Nature-Based BINGO: “Write a poem about the Earth …” During the event, I asked attendees to reflect on a personal experience in nature and write a haiku. If you’re new to haiku writing, the structure of the poem includes three lines. There are five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. 

Here’s one of my favorite poems written by a workshop attendee: 

Walking on a bridge / It was made of wood and ropes / A beautiful day 

During the conference, I was fortunate to be teamed up with Nick Kālāmakani Francisco, Literacy Resource Teacher at Kamehameha Schools - Kealapono Department, who explained the Hawaiian cultural practice of “kilo” – or the close observation of nature using all of our senses. During the pandemic, Nick created a resource for 4th and 5th grade students, Daily Home Kilo Activities, which explains that writing poems is a way we can express our observations from “kilo,” celebrate culture and history, and share memories with each other. 

Please consider this an invitation to take a mindfulness break and explore the practice of “kilo.” Follow these steps to get started: 

  1. Pause and take a few deep breaths; we did Flower Breath during the workshop. 

  2. Observe your natural surroundings today or reflect on past experiences in the outdoors. Appreciate and reflect deeply. Notice details you might have previously overlooked. If it’s raining, consider where the rain is coming from, the temperature, and the size of the raindrops. Even reflect on who has been in this space before, who you’re currently sharing the space with, and who will be here after you. 

  3. Then, write your own haiku.  

I’ve included  a few additional poems written by workshop attendees below to inspire you: 

Trout swim in river / Shimmery bodies like opals / Loved day with my Dad 
Along the shoreline / I become the wavy sea / Calm, connected, free. 
In awe I feel blessed / Connection within the earth / A chance to be still 
Calling for guidance / The journey to the forest / For the lehua 
Cold running water / Salmon fishing with family / Going back again! 
Rain fall on my face / Dance in the rain they say / The rain hides the tears 
Walk in the Cane field / The dirt underneath my feet / Memories to me 
Sand between my toes / Radiant beams of sunlight / Salty azure waves 
The rain has fallen / My grass will be green again / Summer drought be gone 
Moon and stars shimmer / Guiding paths in darkness /Never lose your light 
Walking through the trees / Palisades green brown quiet / Red dirt everywhere 
Breathtaking sunshine / Finding my way back to me / Settle, breathe, I’m here. 
Peaceful Giants Sway / Dew Soaked Green Leaves Glistening / My Ohi’a Trees 
Red ʻiʻiwi bird / High in the ʻōhia tree / First time I see you. 
Toes in wet black sand / Waves crashing on lava rocks / Salty ocean breeze 
Many stars in the sky / Campfire sitting with family / Brilliantly shining 

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Nick for guidance in appreciating and learning more about this important component of Hawaiian culture. For additional resources, explore Kamehameha Schools Midkiff Learning Center. 

As Nick encourages his students after practicing “kilo,” share your observations with others. I invite you to share your poems or other nature-based family bonding fun on social media using the hashtag #KohlsHealthyAtHome. 

Daniel Hatcher

Director, Community Partnerships
Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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