Monarchs have basic needs. They survive only in environments in which
their needs are met. How is monarch habitat changing in your hometown
and how do these changes affect monarchs? In this lesson, students make
outdoor observations to explore these questions. Using the information
they collect and the observations they make, students formulate predictions,
draw conclusions and share their findings in creative ways.
Teacher Guide Includes:
Goals and Objectives:
basic needs of monarch butterflies: food, water, shelter, and space
to grow and reproduce.
where monarchs find food, water, shelter, and space in changing habitats.
seasonal changes in monarch habitats.
how seasonal changes in outdoor habitats affect monarch butterflies.
In this lesson, Fall Habitat Changes and Monarchs’ Needs students
basic needs of monarch butterflies: monarchs need food, water, shelter,
and space to survive and/or reproduce.
data about seasonal changes by observing outdoor habitats.
collected data by exploring how seasonal changes affect monarch butterflies.
how a monarch’s habitat provides for its survival needs: food,
water, shelter, space, reproduction.
how habitat changes relate to fall migration of monarchs.
hypotheses related to the timing of fall migration using habitat data.
how habitat data (temperatures, daylengths, condition of vegetation,
etc.) can be used to predict departure times of migrating monarchs.
Materials List and Helpful Handouts
Viewing Images: Looking for Signs of Seasonal Change
Show students these
images and have them compare and contrast details by describing
similarities and differences. Use these images to introduce the focus
questions for this lesson.
changes can you find in these pairs of photos?
is the condition of the plants in each photo?
time of year do these photos reveal?
details provide evidence to time of year?
or explain the basic needs of monarch butterflies: food, water, shelter,
and space to grow and reproduce.
Questions and Clues
Give each student a copy of the Thinking
Questions. Let them know that these questions require time to
think so you will not be asking for immediate responses or discussion.
Read aloud the questions and then place students in small groups.
Give each group a set of Clue
Cards. Provide time for students to explore how the words are
related to each other and how they might relate to the list of Thinking
Questions. Invite students to use dictionaries to find definitions
for unfamiliar words. After each group has had a chance to explore
the words, challenge them to create fact sentences with related clue
cards. Encourage them to use the Thinking Questions to help them create
them an example to get them started:
each group to share the fact sentences they created with the clue cards.
If students need additional information, provide the Fact
Sheet. Challenge them to connect the fact sentences on handout with
seasonal habitat changes.
Observing Our Outdoor Habitats
Take students outdoors to collect data about the specific
seasonal changes they can see, hear, smell, and feel in your hometown.
(Decide which materials your students will need for their field study:
notebooks, sketchbooks, magnifying glasses, cameras, etc. Be sure
to have them record the date, time, and location of observation.)
students to draw and write about the conditions of plants, the temperature
and weather, animal behavior, and more. Challenge them to zoom in
on the details by observing like a scientist.
students to share their observations when you bring the class back
inside. Create a class chart of seasonal changes by listing the ideas
they share. Ask students to identify which changes impact monarch
a monarch butterfly be able to find what it needed in our outdoor
would the butterfly find food, water, and shelter?
a monarch find fresh milkweed leaves where she could lay her eggs?
larvae have a chance to grow before temperatures drop and weather
conditions become unsuitable?
weather conditions are ideal for monarch butterflies?
weather conditions would be dangerous for monarchs?
or place a star next to the seasonal changes that impact monarchs:
lower temperatures, plants that are going to seed and dying, fewer
hours of daylight.
the next few weeks, make additional outdoor observations to collect
evidence of habitat changes that occur in the fall.
Collecting Temperature and Daylength Data:
How can we use the data we collected to predict the timing of fall
migration? Using the collected data, invite students to predict the
timing of fall migration. When will monarchs leave our area? For specific
details for this activity, see related lesson:
Invite students to choose a creative way to share their discoveries
about seasonal changes and monarch butterflies: (possible ideas)
Nonfiction booklet or slideshow:
Have students work with a partner to write and illustrate their own
booklet or slideshow that describes how seasonal changes affect monarch
Collect a variety of photos or student illustrations of monarchs in
changing habitats. Have students create scrapbook pages with the photos/illustrations.
Have them write informational captions for each photo or illustration
to summarize their discoveries. Collate the student-created pages
into a class scrapbook.
Have students create a large wall poster that includes photos/illustrations
and fact sentences to summarize what they learned about seasonal changes
and monarch butterflies.
Journey North Lessons and Links
Lesson: Too Cold to Fly Today?
Monarch butterflies are in a race against time during
fall migration. They must leave the north before they're trapped
by the cold. In this lesson, ........
Booklet/Slideshow: Nectar and Migration: Finding
Food Along the Way
Where do migrating monarchs find nectar on their journey
south? In this slideshow, students explore the habitat needs
of monarchs during their journey south.
and Definitions Related to Fall Monarch Migration
Build understanding of key concepts by exploring vocabulary words found
in Journey North's context-rich updates, slideshows, booklets, and reading
Vocabulary with Journey North
ideas and activities, check out this link: