Interdisciplinary, Inquiry-based Projects on Migration of Monarch Butterflies

The Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and academic programs working together to protect the monarch butterfly migration across the United States. In support of its mission, MJV offers the Monarchs and More curriculum, an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based supplement to classroom science instruction. The curriculum is laid out as four projects that immerse students in the biology and ecology of monarchs and other pollinators.

Through project–based lessons spanning the life cycle and ecology of monarch butterflies and other insects, students engage in the scientific process. The activities are designed to help students ask questions, plan and conduct investigations, use appropriate tools and techniques to gather data, think critically and logically about evidence and explanations, and communicate scientific ideas. With its foundation in life science, the curriculum also incorporates concepts and skills in math, reading, writing, technology, art, and social studies through activity extensions. Although monarch butterflies are the primary focus in this curriculum, most of the monarch lessons can be easily adapted to fit other arthropods.

Separate guides are available for elementary school (K–2, 3–5), and middle school. For all grade levels, the curriculum is divided into four projects: Monarch Life Cycle, Monarch Migration, Schoolyard Ecology, Investigations with Insects. Each project includes NGSS alignments, the key concepts and skills addressed in the project, a brief overview of the project, a list of materials, clear procedural steps, and additional resources, such as links or books. Most also include copy-ready teacher and student pages.

Activity extensions follow each project. These activities are rooted in life science but may also incorporate other subject areas, such as art, math, literacy, or social studies. The activities can be done in conjunction with the projects or as standalone lessons. Background information on monarchs, their host plants and predators, and responsible conservation is included at the beginning of the curriculum. This background information provides a sturdy foundation in monarch knowledge for teachers and other educators. A glossary and appendices with tips for teaching outside the classroom, a collection of blacklines (drawings and diagrams that can be copied for students), and a list of monarch community science programs are included at the end.

The Monarchs and More curriculum is available for purchase in digital and hard copies on the Monarch Joint Venture store. The Spanish translation of the version for grades 3–5 can be purchased as a digital download (printed copies available soon). Proceeds from the sales are used to support MJV’s mission and vision for monarch conservation.

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