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Fall Habitat Observations
How is monarch butterfly habitat changing?

Make Outdoor Observations
Go outside on a regular basis and watch the fall season transform the world around you!

Notice changes in daylength, temperatures and plants. Scientists think these are the cues that tell monarchs it's time to migrate.

Even if you don't have monarch habitat at your school, you can observe general seasonal changes and draw good conclusions about the timing of monarch migration.

Record your observations on the datasheet to the right. Continue to make regular observations even after the monarchs have left your region. This will give students perspective on the pace of monarch migration and its relationship to the seasonal changes you observe.

Take or Draw Pictures
If your class has a digital camera, use it to make a visual record of the changes you see. For example, take a picture of one plant each week. Watch the flowers go to seed and the plant die back for winter.

Encourage students to sketch what they see. Drawing helps us look closely and notice details.

Students will enjoy making a slideshow or a flip book as a final record.

Time
ongoing (begin before migration;revisit weekly or regularly; continue until winter arrives)

Materials
Datasheet

Standards

Keep a Journal
Help students make predictions and draw conclusions. Ask them to respond to questions like these:

  • Could monarchs find what they need to survive (or reproduce) today?
  • Will they find what they need in the weeks ahead? Why or why not?
  • How quickly will/did temperatures fall?
  • When will/did the first frost occur?
  • What will happen/happened to the flowers?
  • What is the condition of the flowers? How many kinds are there? How will/did this change over the weeks?
  • How quickly will/did daylength change?
  • What might monarchs use as cues that its time to migrate?
  • Will/did the monarchs leave our area "in time"?
  • Why do you think monarchs migrate when they do?

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