Northport students exchange paper monarch butterflies with Mexican school

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Sharing a piece of Canadian culture from Grades 2-3

Science teacher Melissa Gould has added a monarch butterfly portion to her lifecycles unit in her Grades 2 and 3 science classes. 

NORTHPORT – This fall Gould’s class studied the migration of the monarch butterflies, focusing on the path which the butterflies follow from Northport to Mexico.  To represent this long journey, her class participated in a symbolic migration by creating paper monarch butterflies to send to a Grade 2 class at Octavio PazJunior High in Mexico.

Gould’s class created one large butterfly to represent the school as a whole, and then each member of the class also created their own smaller butterflies to send as well.

The class joined over 60,000 other students from all over the world in creating symbolic butterflies. They then sent them to schools near winter sanctuaries in Mexico.

They also raised their own butterfly larva and set them free in the fall as part of her class on lifecycles. Although they could not find monarch butterflies for her exercise, they did use a different kind.

The classroom was filled with smiles as the kids described their favourite part of the project, from raising the larvae, to feeding them Gatorade on a cotton ball and even watching their butterflies as they broke free from cocoons.

Gould’s class is now learning about soils and plants, which ties in with the butterfly curriculum, while they await the return of real monarch butterflies from the participating class in Mexico. Some time in March when the monarchs migrate back North, the class will be receiving paper monarchs from the corresponding school in Mexico.

Monarch butterflies are in decline because they will only lay their eggs on one type of plant - milkweed.

Milkweed is a poisonous unwanted weed, and, because of this, many gardeners and farmers will remove it.

The monarch butterfly is something that Canadians have in common with Mexico, a similarity that can be shared by the two cultures, said Gould.

Her class will be creating a butterfly garden at Northport elementary this spring. She is hoping that her class can take a step towards preserving the quickly declining population of the monarch butterfly by providing them with a small sanctuary and milkweed, a necessity to the monarch caterpillars who consume the poisonous leaf for protection against predators.

The idea to implement the symbolic journey of monarch butterflies came to Gould after she attended a two-day teachers workshop on the monarch butterfly.

Organizations: Gatorade

Geographic location: Mexico, Northport

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