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The annual migration of Monarch Butterflies between Mexico and Canada is an amazing adaptation strategy. What makes this event even more remarkable is that the butterflies that arrive in Mexico are not the same individuals that departed the Canadian breeding grounds. In this activity students use mapping and an interactive game to discover how this species depends on important rest areas to produce new generations to complete each leg of the journey. Preparing a map of the Monarch migration provides a new appreciation for the challenges facing these remarkable butterflies as students:
Locate key stopover locations along the route and describe the habitat features that support Monarch breeding.
Describe threats to migration habitats and how changes to these areas could impact Monarch populations.
Consider how humans can work collaboratively to support active habitat conservation.
This activity supports Grade 3-6 Science outcomes that explore biodiversity and the link between wildlife adaptations and environment. Students will further develop their understanding of how humans can impact the natural world and the role of responsible resource use in preserving ecological integrity. The lesson also reinforces Social Studies content related to regions of North America and includes a mapping exercise that engages learners in describing both environmental and cultural features of the Monarch migration route while examining varying perspectives on sustainability.
Students could design a peer education project that includes a large-scale wall map of the migration route along with factual information and brightly-coloured origami Monarch. (resource includes a link to a Monarch origami pattern). Supplies and instructions could also be made available for pupils and teachers to create their own Monarch butterflies to take home, along with student-prepared information that identifies how we can all help conserve this endangered species.
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