Comparing the Real and Symbolic Migrations
Monarch Staging Grounds in Minnesota
Monarch Migration helps students understand and relate to the actual monarch
migration. Here's what the fall symbolic migration looks like:
paper monarchs created in classrooms.
- They first
fly first to the staging ground in Minnesota.
- Next they
travel with UPS to the Children's Museum in Mexico City.
the butterflies come to rest with the school children of Mexico who
provide sanctuary for them during the winter.
monarch butterflies make a similar migration from their northern breeding
grounds to the winter sanctuaries in Mexico.
When your students bid goodbye to their symbolic butterflies this fall,
they can begin to explore the rich symbolism of the journey. Here they
begin a chart of comparisons between the real and the symbolic migrations.
- Ask students
where they think their symbolic monarchs will go when they leave their
classroom. Using information in the background, above, make a class
diagram of the "migration" of 63,000 Symbolic Monarchs. The
diagram should form a complete circle when monarchs migrate northward
in the spring.
- Make a
class chart titled Comparisons: The Real and Symbolic Monarch Migrations.
Label two columns Real Monarch Migration and Symbolic Monarch
Migration. Post the chart and tell students they will be completing
it during the course of the school year. Also pass out the chart as
so students can keep notes in their journals.
- Each time
you receive weekly Monarch Updates, or conduct relevant lessons about
monarchs or symbolic monarchs, revisit and expand the chart. (You might
prefer to first fill in the "real" migration side of the chart
and then add corresponding information to the "symbolic" side.)
The more often you reflect on the symbolism and help students see parallels,
the richer their experience will be. The questions below provide some
student responses to add ideas to the comparison chart.
- How do
monarchs in both "migrations" find their winter homes? Discuss
the monarch's instinctual
navigation and the technologies that enable the symbolic monarchs
to travel their migration route.
routes do the butterflies travel? Display a map of North America to
review the migration
route made by real monarchs from your home to sanctuaries in Mexico
and back again.
- What do
the butterflies need to survive their trip and the winter in the sanctuaries?
(Think about weather conditions, roosting places, and food and safety
- To whom
do the monarchs "belong?" Who is responsible for the real
and symbolic monarchs after they leave here, travel along their migration
route, and cross national borders? (International cooperation is necessary
for the survival of migratory species.)
- When do
the monarch butterflies arrive in Mexico? When do they return in the
- How do
you think people in Mexico respond to the real monarchs' return? To
the symbolic monarchs they receive?
- What risks
to "survival" do the symbolic and the real monarchs face along
the migration trail and in the sanctuaries during winter? What things
can go wrong? (This will help students better understand why they might
receive fewer Symbolic Monarchs than they sent.) Remind students that
not all real or symbolic monarchs will survive the migration.
- Is a butterfly
that returns in the spring something we can take for granted, or should
we regard it as a "gift?" Plan how the class might make the
most of the symbolic monarchs that do return from Mexico. (For instance,
you might make a hallway display.)