As the Monarchs were circling my butterfly bushes this week, it reminded me of a really successful project I did 3 years ago.
Every spring in First Grade students hatch Monarch Butterflies and learn about their life cycle. The fall though is the time when Monarch Butterflies make the great migration to parts of Southern California and Mexico. Around November, during the time of Dia de los Muertos, Monarchs flood the mountain tops just north of Mexico City. People think that these butterflies are the souls of their dead ancestors returning to them. They travel from North America to the same places year after year. Not a single butterfly can make the whole trip. It takes generations of butterflies to make the long trip. Somehow each butterfly knows to complete the journey through instinct!
This is an magical phenomenon that scientists believe will disappear in the next ten years. Many of the habitats that Monarchs migrate to are being destroyed. This project will help support the preserves in Mexico that have been set up to protect the habitat of our shared resource, the Monarch Butterflies.
In art class we create a butterfly using symmetry and send them to Mexico, through the JOURNEY NORTH organization. You can do this too, just click on the link and follow the instructions. There are also great handouts and slideshows to accompany your art lesson. On the back, students write to a pen pal who is also making a butterfly and sending it. Journey North will set up the pen pals so this is very easy to do. In the Fall, when the Monarchs migrate back you will get a package in the mail filled with butterflies other children have made. Each student will get a butterfly from their pen pal. This symbolic migration is a beautiful way to integrate so many subjects while teaching art.
Here are some of the butterflies we got back. I have some students make two butterflies so we have enough for students who are absent. These are the extra I saved.
|Butterflies sent to us in the Fall.|