Monday, 8 September 2014

Monarch Caterpillar Study!

I'm trying it! I finally found somebody who has a connection to get Monarch caterpillars. I've never actually even seen one before last Friday (when I got mine).

To go along with our study, I created a Differentiated Monarch Caterpillar and Butterfly Inquiry Package. I teach Grades 1 and 2 and have a lot of beginning readers and writers, so it's very differentiated and is geared toward the early Primary learner.

 Differentiated Monarch Caterpillar and Butterfly Inquiry Study for Primary Learners

This weekend, I went to Mastermind Toys and picked up the Zoomy Handheld Digital Microscope. It was $59.95, so it made me a bit nervous. However, I'm so happy I bought it! It connects to my computer via USB and therefore, projects onto the SmartBoard. We were able to see a closer view of our caterpillar as it munched away on milkweed leaves. We can even take videos and pictures of it.

This morning, we decided to go on a milkweed hunt. I told the students our caterpillars only eat that kind of plant and the leaves we had left with it over the weekend were probably drying up quickly. We are lucky to be in the country and have a lot of "wild" around us. I explained to my students that weeds like a lot of sun, so they went running to the sunniest part of the playground - and sure enough, they found tons of milkweed!

 Students going on a milkweed hunt to feed Monarch caterpillars.

We completed the "K" part of our KWL chart. In my package, I made each section an entire page. Students at this age don't know they have to wait until later to fill out the "L" section and often have troubles fitting their large letters (and pictures) into tiny columns. I really appreciated this decision today as my students had no worries when filling out their ideas!

 What do you KNOW about Monarch caterpillars? KWL Chart for Primary learners.

Later, we wrote an observation entry about what our caterpillars did. We began by making a list of what we noticed about our caterpillars. Surprise! Guess what almost all of my students chose to write (and draw) about ... pooping!

 Monarch Caterpillar Inquiry - Observation Sheet

One Grade 1 student said "I wonder if the butterflies are poisonous too because the caterpillars are poisonous." What a great inquiry and it's exactly the kind of language and thinking I want to encourage with my students this year! I didn't tell her the answer - but I'm picking up some books from our local library this evening instead!

The package is available on my TPT store for $3. As I add to it as needed, the updates will be available free of charge. Similarly, if there is something you want to see in it, please contact me or leave a comment!

Take care.

Miss Laidlaw


  1. Looks like a wonderful activity! We purchased caterpillars last year and I ended up caring for a monarch butterfly until the end of January when she died! It was quite the adventure! :)

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

  2. Thanks, Erin! My kids are loving it. I have to add more to the package because the kids have taken some inquiry in a totally different direction than expected - it's amazing! :)