Getting Ready for Monarch Butterfly Migration

Student Handouts
Blank Map
Student Instructions:
Grades K-3 (above)
Grades 4+
The process of making a map will orient students to the geography of monarch butterfly migration. It will also give them a context for following news in the season's migration updates.


Laying the Groundwork

  1. Give each student or student group a copy of the handouts listed above. (Note: You can edit the student instructions in Microsoft Word to adapt them for your grade level.)
  2. Show the class where they can access the atlas and any optional resource maps you select.
  3. If you used the grade 4+ instruction sheet, point out the differences between the eastern and western monarch populations (see below).
  4. Give students time to add to their Blank Maps the features listed on the Student Instructions sheet.
  • Ask students to save the maps they develop. As they learn more about monarch butterfly migration during the season, they can add new details and features to their maps. As you review student maps, you can assess their understanding of migration patterns and their abilities to represent them.

Additional Resource Maps

Monarch sanctuaries in Mexico

North America's two monarch populations

Two Monarch Butterfly Populations
in North America

In North America, two migratory populations of monarch butterflies exist.

There is much uncertainty about the exact distribution of these populations!

What follows is a generalized summary:

(Click map to enlarge)

Eastern Monarchs
The bigger monarch population remains east of the Rocky Mountains. These eastern monarchs overwinter on 12 mountaintops Mexico. They breed throughout much of the central and eastern U.S. and Canada.
Most Journey North migration reports highlight sightings of these eastern monarchs.

Western Monarchs
There are 200 to 300 small monarch colonies that winter within 5 miles of the Pacific Coast from Ensenada, Baja California (31.5 N latitude) to Marin County, California (38.1 N latitude). The breeding ground resources are not known, but are assumed to run from California north to Washington and across the Sierra Nevada to Nevada and other western states.

Related Link