Teaching Suggestions

Nectar-fueled Migrations: Comparing a Bird and a Butterfly
(Slideshow Overview)

Like the monarch butterfly, the ruby-throated hummingbird migrates north in the spring, using nectar to fuel its journey. Although one is a bird and the other a butterfly, they are heading north for the same reasons. Use the slideshow and research-ready resources to spark students' curiosity and help them explore this essential question:

Essential Question:
How do the nectar-fueled migrations of a bird and a butterfly compare?

Set the Stage for Learning

1. Display the cover. Share facts and ask questions to assess prior knowledge:

  • Monarchs and ruby-throated hummingbirds use nectar to fuel their migration. How do the migrations of a bird and a butterfly compare?
  • One is a bird. One is an insect. What unique challenges do you think they face as they migrate north in the spring?
  • They fly at different speeds. Who would you expect to see first in the spring?
  • One is warm-blooded. One is cold-blooded. How do you think temperatures affect when and where they can travel?

Slideshow | Nectar-fueled Migrations: Comparing a Bird and a Butterfly

2. Distribute research charts. Use the chart to help students collect their questions about hummingbirds and monarchs. Encourage them to use the chart to jot down questions sparked by the facts revealed in the slideshow. For example, after reading that monarchs and hummers travel north from overwintering areas south of the United States border, students might ask:

  • Who arrives first and why?
  • Where are the first spring sightings of hummingbirds and monarchs?
  • When are the first sightings reported?

Research Chart
Research Chart

Viewing the Slideshow

As a class, read through the pages of the slideshow together. Encourage students to add questions sparked by the information and images to their research charts.

After-Reading Activities

1. Mark up the text. Have students reread the text-only version of the slideshow with a partner. Have them underline or circle key phrases that reveal migration similarities and differences. Page-by-page, challenge them to use the facts to fill their research charts with a variety of questions. Provide time for students to share their favorite questions.

2. Research the facts. Explore the research resources below to help students collect facts about hummingbird and monarch migrations. Have them to use the facts to compare migrations and answer questions they posed on their research charts.

3. Create a Venn Diagram poster. Have students work in small groups to design large posters that summarize comparison facts. Challenge them to think about how their posters can showcase facts they discovered by exploring the essential question: How do the nectar-fueled migrations of a bird and a butterfly compare?

Wrap Up

Explore migration maps. What can we learn by analyzing actual migration data? Have students look at the migration maps to discover patterns, make comparisons, predict patterns, and pose possible explanations for unexpected findings. Challenge them to think about how the facts they discovered apply to migration data revealed on the maps.

Monarch butterfly spring migration map Ruby-throated hummingbird migration map
Monarch Butterfly Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Research Resources

Use a fill-in-the-blank chart and fact puzzle to help students start collecting facts they'll need to compare the nectar-fueled migrations of monarchs and ruby-throated hummingbirds:

Worksheet: Comparison Chart | Monarch Butterflies and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds Fact Puzzle| Comparing Migrations, Monarch Butterfly and Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Comparison Chart
Fill-in-the-Blank | Answer Key
Fact Puzzle
Fill-in-the-Blank | Answer Key

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