Teaching Suggestions
Temperature and Survival
The Balance Between Warm and Cold


It can be warm during the day at the monarch's winter home in Mexico, but at night it's as cold as the inside of your refrigerator. This is surprising! Why do monarchs migrate long distances to overwinter in a place that is so cold? This slideshow explores a key question:

Essential Question
What temperatures do overwintering monarchs need to survive?


Lesson Goals

  • Explore how temperature conditions affect overwintering monarchs.
  • Investigate how the forest protects overwintering monarchs in Mexico.
  • Discover the adaptations monarchs have for surviving in cold temperatures.

Instructional Activities
1. Introduce the Slideshow

Examine Cover Photo
This photo may surprise students who think that monarchs migrate to a warm place for the winter. Encourage them to share their thoughts by asking:

  • Why do think monarchs migrate long distances to overwinter in a place that can be cold and snowy?

Make Pre-reading Predictions
Before viewing the slideshow, distribute the Anticipation Guide and have students work with a partner to predict which words fit in the blanks.

View the Slideshow
As a class read through the pages of the slideshow together, stopping occasionally to spotlight key ideas and ask questions. Encourage students to share questions sparked by the information and images.


Monarch butterfly in Mexico
Monarch in Mexico

Anticipation Guide
Anticipation Guide

2.Find the Facts

Distribute the Risks/Benefits Note-taking Chart and have students find and record facts from the text.

  • What are the risks and benefits of cold temperatures?
  • What are the risks and benefits of warm temps?
  • What adaptations do monarchs have to survive the cold temperatures they experience in Mexico?

Encourage students to use their completed chart to write Discovery Statements that summarize what they learned.

Journal page
Note-taking Chart

3. Discuss Key Concepts

Use Guiding Questions to spark discussions about key concepts. Be sure to highlight questions about monarch adaptions. Many of the monarch's adaptations to cold are behavioral adaptations: shivering, climbing, clustering, basking, migrating to Mexico.

Monarch Butterfly Migration Journal

Journal page
Guiding Questions

4. Explore Average Low Temperatures

Revisit the line graph from the slideshow that shows the average low temperatures at the overwintering sites. Use the Questions for Analysis to help students explore the data. Challenge students to write Discovery Statements to summarize what they learned from this temperature graph.

  • Collect and analyze current temperature data:

Line Graph

5. Describe How Forest Protects Monarchs

Dr. Lincoln Brower says the monarch's forest is like an umbrella and a blanket. Analogies help us understand new things because they draw upon our past experiences. This journal page has students use analogies to describe how the forest protects monarch butterflies.

Journal Page

6. Write Your Own Fact Book

Make your own booklet using information you learned about monarchs, temperature and survival. The blank fact book has photos, headings, and space for students to write their own text.

Blank Book