Teaching Suggestions

Nectar and Migration: Finding Food Along the Way
(Back to Slideshow Overview)


Monarchs feed hungrily in the fall. They must have nectar to fuel their migration to Mexico. They must also eat enough nectar to gain the fat they'll need to survive the winter. Using the facts and photos in this slideshow, explore this essential question:

Essential Question:
Why is it so important for monarchs to find nectar during fall migration?

Set the Stage for Learning

1. Display the cover. Ask questions to assess prior knowledge:

  • What do you think monarch butterflies need for fall migration?
  • How do you think monarchs fuel up for the long journey south?
  • Where do monarchs find fuel along the migration route?
  • How do monarchs get nectar from flowers?
The Annual Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
2. Preview images in the Photo Gallery. On large chart paper, post the essential question: Why is it so important for monarchs to find nectar during fall migration? Have students make pre-reading predictions based on details they see in the photos.
Photo gallery

3. Preview vocabulary using Word Cards. Have students work with a partner to read aloud each word. Have them predict how the words may be related to the essential question: Why is it so important for monarchs to find nectar during fall migration?


Word Cards
Viewing the Slideshow

As a class, read through the pages of the slideshow together. Stop occasionally to spotlight key words and ideas or ask questions. Encourage students to share their own questions sparked by the information and images.

Optional printed booklet of slideshow can be copied and assembled for partner or at-home reading.

Revisit for Understanding

1. Reread the selection together. Have students identify sentences that give facts specific to the essential question. Page-by-page, challenge them to summarize main ideas and key details.

2. Study the Lipid Graph: Help students examine the Lipid Graph in the slideshow using the Guiding Questions handout.

3. Create a poster. Have students work in small groups to design posters that showcase facts about the importance of nectar during fall migration. Encourage them to provide a summary response to the essential question on the poster. Have them draw illustrations or print out images from the Photo Gallery.

4. Read with fluency and expression. Pair students. Provide a copy of the text-only page. Invite them to read aloud the text together in a variety of ways. This text page can also be used as an oral reading assessment.

5. Ask Assessment Questions. Encourage readers to summarize their learning with questions like these:

  • Where and when do monarchs get the energy they need to migrate to Mexico and survive the winter months?
  • How do monarchs consume nectar?
  • Why is it so important for monarchs to find nectar during fall migration?
Wrap Up
1. Observe and Report  

Where can migrating monarchs find nectar in your neighborhood? Go outside and make a list of nectaring plants you find. Collect observation data by visiting the nectaring plants at about the same time each day. Count how many butterflies you see and the length of time you were watching.

Monarch Butterflies nectaring at New England aster.

Report Your Sightings!

2. Create Habitat Along the Migration Trail

An abundance of nectar sources is especially important for migrating monarchs. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers that bloom during fall migration. Report your garden to the Habitat Project map:

Map: Habitat Projects
3. Track Monarch Fall Migration

As monarchs migrate south, predict when and where they will travel.

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