Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle and Migration


General Description: Monarch Butterfly

There are nearly 1,000,000 species of insects on our planet.  There are over 20,000 different species of butterflies. They live on every continent. In this unit young students will focus on the characteristics that all insects share, and then the particular characteristics of the Monarch butterfly. They will learn about the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, and how it is the same for all butterflies, but they will also learn about the unique characteristics of the Monarch butterfly.

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Academic Content Standard Subject Area: Science

Grade Levels: 1-3

Primary Common Core State Standards
1st Grade: RI.1.1, RI.1.3, SL.1.1-5
2nd Grade: RI.2.1, RI.2.7, SL.2.1, SL.2.3-5
3rd Grade: RI.3.1, RI.3.3, RI.3.7, SL.3.1-5

Primary Next Generation Science Standards
1st Grade: 1-LS3-1
2nd Grade: 2-LS4-1
3rd Grade: 3-LS1-1, 3-LS4-3

Time Required

Lessons 1-3: 15-20 minutes

Lesson 4 Videoconference: 30-45 minutes


Through classroom lessons and participating in the videoconference, students will be able to
 Describe four main characteristics of all insects.
 Describe the unique characteristics of Monarch butterflies.
 Explain the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly.
 Outline the migration journey of the Monarch butterfly.

Possible Extensions

1. Have students take a field trip to a State Park where Monarch butterflies migrate for the winter.

2. Have students buy milkweed seeds or plants and grow a butterfly garden.

3. Have students create a “Save the Monarch Butterfly” campaign to educate people about why the Monarch butterfly’s population has decreased in recent years.

Academic Contributors

Ruth Landmann
Certified California Teacher
Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Allison Martin
California Credentialed Teacher
Graduate Student, CSUS