Teaching Suggestions
Monarchs and the Seasons

Month by month, where are monarchs and what are they doing? The facts and photos in this slideshow showcase the monarch's annual cycle. Choose from an array of activities to explore how monarchs respond to the seasons. Discover ways to document the changes you observe throughout the year.

Essential Question
What is the annual cycle of the monarch butterfly?

The Annual Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly

Start With Wonder

Explore Month-by-Month Images
Use the images in the photo gallery to wonder aloud about where monarch are and what they are doing at various times of the year.

  • When do monarchs migrate?
  • Where are monarchs during the winter months?
  • Where do monarchs produce their offspring?
  • When does the breeding season begin?
  • What are backyard monarchs doing in July?

Create Wonder Rings
As students explore the photos and facts, have them write questions on index cards. Punch a hole in each card. Insert the cards onto a metal o-ring. As students learn about monarchs, encourage them to add fact sentences to their wonder rings.


Wonder Rings

Wonder Rings

Did You Know?
The life cycle of a monarch is one generation, from egg to adult. The annual cycle takes place in one year. There are several monarch life cycles (generations) in one annual cycle.

Showcase the Cycle

Select from these activities to extend learning:

Annual Cycle Puzzle
Print the puzzle page and cut into pieces. Challenge students to sequence the events of the monarch's annual cycle.

Calendar Handout
Challenge students to showcase what monarchs do throughout the year by writing month-by-month verbs on the calendar handout. This sheet can also be used for note-taking or assessment.

Hallway Timeline
After exploring the photos and text as a class, create a large timeline to showcase the month-by-month events of the monarch's annual cycle. As you track this season's migration, add your own backyard observations to the timeline. Will your observations match the expected events of the annual cycle or will you see unexpected surprises? Report observations to Journey North.

Seasonal Circle Book
Make a circle book to showcase the cyclical events by season (fall, winter, spring, summer). Encourage students to revisit the slideshow's facts and photos to construct their circle book. Display books in your school's library.

Annual Cycle Wheel
Display and discuss the sample annual cycle wheel. Give your students a design challenge: How would you showcase the significant month-by-month events of the monarch's annual cycle on a circular wheel? What words and images would you use to showcase where monarchs are and what they are doing throughout the year?

Cause-Effect Flow Charts
Sunlight drives seasonal change. Choose key events from the annual cycle and explore cause-effect relationships by creating flow charts. Draw boxes and arrows to showcase the chain of events that start with sunlight changes. Sample Chain of Events:

  • Sun, Temps Warm, Monarchs Warm Enough to Fly
  • Sun, Milkweed Emerges, Monarchs Can Lay Eggs

Other Showcase Challenges
Have students synthesize what they learned about the monarch's annual cycle by designing flip books, desktop calendars, lapbooks, file folder games, or accordian books.


Monarch butterfly

Puzzle Page
English | Spanish

Annual Cycle Calendar

Annual Cycle Wheel

Annual Cycle Wheel
blank | sample

Annual Cycle Cause-Effect Flow ChartCause-Effect
blank | sample

Track this Season's Migration
Report Observations to Journey North
Month by month, what are monarchs doing where you live? Note the timing of annual cycle events and report your sightings. All observations contributed by citizen scientists help raise questions and build scientific understanding.
Report Monarch Observations