Lesson Plans

The teacher resources site and materials are used here with permission from Monarch Lab.  It provides a wealth of activities for teachers grades K-12, links to current research, courses, lesson plans, and outreach materials.  For more lesson plans and resources for teachers, go to Monarch Education on the Monarch Butterfly: North America’s Migrating Insect web pages:

Kick Off

Winter Is Coming
Students will brainstorm ways in which animals survive winter’s cold temperatures. They will create a class list that illustrates the variety of ways in which animals deal with cold temperatures, and compare these to ways in which humans prepare for and survive winter.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/K-2/Winter_is_coming.pdf (for Grades K-2)

Map the Monarchs’ Route
Students will devise monarch migration routes, learning what monarchs might encounter during the fall and spring migrations.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/K-2/Map_the_Monarchs_Route.pdf (for grades K-2)

In the Mexican Mountains

Daughters of the Sun
Students will investigate the significance of the butterfly for the early inhabitants of Mexico and what beliefs about the butterfly persist today.
http://www.fs.fed.us/monarchbutterfly/documents/royal_mail/Daughters_of_the_Sun.pdf (for grades 3-6)

Butterfly Habitat
In this lesson, students will discuss habitat needs and survey a butterfly habitat and surrounding area for species interactions. They will observe many kinds of interactions between the different kinds of organisms that live in a habitat, learning that an intricate web of relationships exists in the natural world.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/MS/Butterfly_Habitat.pdf (for middle and high school)

Pit-Traps and Other Methods For Arthropod Sampling
Students will sample arthropods in different habitats on their schoolyard grounds. The population sampling can occur on a regular basis to sample throughout the season or it can be done once. The methodology and data collected in this study will provide many opportunities for independent student inquiry projects.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/MS/Arthropod_Sampling.pdf (for middle and high school)

Community Conservation in Mexico

Making Decisions in the Forest
There are no easy solutions for the problems which emerge in protecting natural areas.  Solving them requires that the parties participate and compromise in the decisions made.  Students will analyze the problems that the Monarch Butterfly Special Biosphere Reserve in Mexico faces and will propose solutions.
http://www.fs.fed.us/monarchbutterfly/documents/royal_mail/Making_Decisions.pdf (for grades 7-12)

Flight Direction Analysis
Students will observe monarchs in flight, and measure the vanish­ing bearing of those that are using directional flight. They will learn to distinguish directional from variable flight, and gain an understanding of the ways that scientists collect data to answer questions.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/MS/Flight_Direction_Analysis.pdf (for middle and high school)

Little Spaces; Big Results

Bug Safari
One of the greatest things about studying insects is that you can find them in every environment. In this lesson, you take your students on a school yard “safari” to illustrate how diverse insects are.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/K-2/Bug_Safari.pdf (grades K-2)

Where is My Food?
In this experiment, your students will investigate the monarch’s searching behavior and ability to find food. Here, we only use its hostplant, milkweed, but require that the caterpillar find its food in a Y-shaped maze. We do know that females usually only oviposit on milkweed so that the larvae do not initially have to search for their hostplant. However, as they grow they often move to another plant, so they do need to be able to find milkweed.
http://monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/Where_is_My_Food.pdf  (for grades 3-6)

Building the Population

Keeping A Monarch Calendar
Create a calendar based on students’ observations of all stages of the monarch life cycle. Detailed illustrations of observations will serve as the basis of the calendar, though written words may be used to accompany and explain the pictures. The calendar can then be used to to describe the life cycle of individual monarchs.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/K-2/Keeping_a_Monarch_Calendar.pdf (for grades K-2)

How Many Grandchildren?
Students will calculate the number of progeny that one female monarch butter­fly could produce in one year (4 genera­tions).
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/How_Many_Grandchildren.pdf (for grades 3-6)

Measuring Larval Growth and Development
To expose students to data entry and logging information into organized data tables, and to create questions based upon their findings. While this lesson is written to be done with monarchs, the concepts are applicable to any insects.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/Measuring_Larval_Growth_and_Dev.pdf (for grades 3-6)
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/MS/Measuring_Larval_Growth_and_Dev.pdf (for middle and high school)

Where Is My Food?
Students will conduct a simple experiment to determine if monarch cat­erpillars can find food in a simple maze. There are many possible ways to conduct this experiment, and students should be given the opportunity to provide input into the design and interpretation of their research.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/Where_is_My_Food.pdf (for grades 3-6)

Monarchs in Canada

How Much Do Caterpillars Eat in One Day?
Trace milkweed leaves onto card stock in order to make quantitative observations of the milkweed consumed by a monarch caterpillar in one day. Fill in a data sheet and compare the quantities of milkweed eaten over several consecutive days.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/K-2/How_much_do_caterpillars_eat.pdf (for grades K-2)

Milkweed Monitoring
Students will record the growth and development of milkweed plants, tracking their appearance in the spring, and the rate at which they grow. If desired, they can track the use of these plants by insect herbivores.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/Milkweed_Monitoring.pdf (for grades 3-6)
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/MS/Milkweed_Monitoring.pdf (for middle and high school)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Students will first predict, and then estimate, how much milkweed a larva consumes on a daily basis. If the research is carried over several days, they will learn how much milkweed consumption varies with larval age and size.
http://www.monarchlab.org/mitc/Resources/LessonPlans/3-6/Hungry_Caterpillar.pdf (for grades 3-6)  

Project Learning Tree® Lesson Plans

Improve Your Place
This is lesson plan provides a process for planning, designing, and planting a butterfly and pollinator garden, and is a good model to use when creating and planning any service project. In this activity, students are encouraged to plan and carry out a service learning project that focuses on making positive environmental changes in their community.  CLICK HERE for a pdf file of “Improve Your Place.” (for grades 5-8)

Can It Be Real?
A beetle that drinks fog. A flower that smells like rotting meat. A fish that “shoots down” its prey. Are these plants and animals for real? In this activity, students discover extraordinary plants and animals, and gain insight on how they are uniquely adapted to environmental conditions..  CLICK HERE for a pdf file of “Can It Be Real?” (for grades 4-8)