The Monarch’s Spring Migration: A Race Against Time
Teacher Guide
To Slideshow

Spring migration begins every March in a flurry. Monarchs are in a race against time. They cannot stay in Mexico any longer, but they cannot move north too quickly either. Begin your spring migration study by exploring the time-sensitive connections between monarchs and their environment. Spring migration is a flight for survival.

Essential Question
Why is the monarch's spring migration a race against time?


Lesson Goals and Objectives:

Lesson Goals

1. Explore the time-sensitive connections between monarchs and seasonal change.

2. Invite students to be citizen scientists actively engaged in real-world, real-time scientific inquiry with Journey North as a guide.

3. Launch your classroom’s Journey North Spring Migration inquiry-based investigation.

Lesson Objectives:
1. Identify the specific seasonal changes in the monarch’s winter habitat that lead up to the butterflies’ departure: temperature, rainfall, and light.

2. Describe why time is a critical factor as the monarchs begin their spring migration.

Planning Guide

Read through the text-only version of the slideshow as a planning guide. Capture your thoughts: observations, questions, discoveries, vocabulary, possible teaching applications, etc. Share your thinking process with students to model effective reading strategies.


Step-by-Step Instructional Plan

Pre-Reading: Set the Stage for Learning

1. Pre-Reading Challenge
Introduce the slideshow by reading aloud the title: Spring Migration: A Race Against Time. Place students in small groups and distribute a copy of the Clue Words. Ask:

  • Why do you think the spring migration is described as a race against time?
  • How do you think these words are related to monarch’s spring migration?

Invite students to share ideas. Next distribute the Missing Word Challenge. Encourage students to think about which of the clue words can be used to fill in blanks.

Note: Revisit the Missing Word Challenge after reading the slideshow to assess students' understanding. At that time, have students complete the page without using the Word Cards.


Monarch Butterfly Winter in Mexico

Clue Words

Missing Word Challenge

Reading the Slideshow

Introduce the Monarch’s Spring Migration slideshow.

Distribute the Reading and Note-taking Chart. Have students collect a list of Very Important Points (The VIPs) from the booklet in the left-hand column of the chart. Encourage them to jot down their thoughts (connections, questions, hypotheses) in the right-hand column of the chart. Encourage students to highlight words from the Pre-reading Cards to identify VIP sentences in the text.

Reading and
Note-taking Chart

After Reading: Revisit for Understanding

1. Line Graphs
Invite students to share their VIP statements with the class and then ask: How many of you used the photos and graphs to write your VIP statements? As a class, revisit the line graphs featured in the booklet or slideshow. Deepen students’ understanding by examining each graph closely. Ask guiding questions to facilitate a class discussion:

  • What do the dots and lines on the graphs reveal about seasonal changes taking place in Mexico?
  • How do you think seasonal changes affect monarchs and the timing of their spring migration?

2. Journal Page
Use the Journal Page to assess understanding. Have students summarize what they learned after reading the text and examining the line graphs.

Line Graphs

Journal Page | Why is spring migration a race against time?
Journal Page

Wrap Up: Launch Journey North in Your Classroom

After reading, introduce your student citizen scientists to the learning adventure your class is about to begin. Prepare the class for tracking the monarch’s spring migration with Journey North (March through June).

1. Photo gallery
The "Here Come the Monarchs!" photo gallery shows millions of monarchs as they prepare to leave Mexico in March.
Explain, Monarchs are beginning their journey north. Spring brings changes in Mexico and across the continent. Let's take a look outside today:

  • Is our backyard habitat ready for monarchs right now?
  • What changes need to take place before the monarchs arrive?
  • When do you predict our outdoor habitat will be monarch-ready?

Invite students to make outdoor observations and predictions as they anticipate the monarchs' arrival.

2. Invitation
Use this parent letter to encourge students to invite their families to track the spring migration together with your class:

Photo Gallery

Parent Letter