Lesson 2:
Crossing Borders: Rules That Affect Monarchs

Every classroom and family has its own "rules" that reflect its needs and values. Each city, province, state, and nation in which monarchs live also makes its own rules — and these can affect monarchs!

Monarchs have different habitat needs depending on where they are. For instance, they need lots of milkweed in the breeding grounds, oyamel fir trees for winter protection, and nectar flowers along the migration route. Different types of regulations and ways of using land affect monarchs at different times of the year.

Overview: Students examine the concept of rules in their lives. They make connections to the complex issues that surround monarch conservation in countries that have different needs, values, and laws. (Students who are following the actual monarch migration will explore the issues in more depth during the winter.)

Laying the Groundwork

  1. Begin with a statement about rules. "In my house we have a rule that you don't get dessert unless you finish your dinner." Ask a few volunteers to share examples of rules in their homes.
  2. Put students in pairs to make a list of their families' rules (e.g., about TV viewing or snacks) as well as consequences for breaking them.
  3. Call the class together and compile the rules on the chalkboard or chart paper. List each rule just once and use checkmarks to indicate the frequency with which it was listed.
  4. As you review the list, ask, What general statement could you make about rules in our classroom's families? What need and/or value does each rule reflect? Why do you think families have different rules? Would it be appropriate for you to expect your family's rules to be followed in a different household?
  5. Tell students to recall stories they've read or travels they've taken. Ask, Do some rules change when you cross borders? (Examples: speed limits, languages, driving laws, business hours, school attendance.) Why do you think people/countries have different rules? Do you think any rules do or should apply everywhere in the world? Give examples and explain your thinking.
Monarch Migration Route

Exploration: Monarch Migration Across Borders
If you haven't already conducted Lesson 1, do so now or click to enlarge the map (right). Ask, Through which states, provinces, and countries do the monarchs travel on their migration? If a monarch flies from Quebec to Mexico, do you think it sees the borders it crosses? What does it see? (The habitat and resources, such as nectar flowers, it requires.)

Making Connections: Discussion

  1. Discuss what monarchs need in their habitats — and on their migratory route — in order to survive. (Consider the need for flowers and nectar, milkweed, roosting places, clean water, clean air, and safety from hazards such as traffic, predators, and pesticides.) Make a class list. Discuss how crossing through neighboring political units (states, countries, and so on), each with its own laws and land use patterns, might affect a butterfly's ability to meet its needs.

  2. Ask, What kinds of rules, laws, or regulations would you make to help meet the monarch's migratory needs?

  3. Ask, Do you think that different rules in Canada, the United States, and Mexico could affect the monarchs? What might account for these differences? Here are some sample responses you can suggest and discuss:
    * Differences in standard of living might affect economic priorities. (For example, people who are unable to purchase fuel for heating or cooking may need to cut down trees that monarchs also rely on.)
    * Countries might place different values on protecting natural resources.
    * Business interests (e.g., pesticide makers) might have a lot political power in some places.
    * Countries differ in their levels of funding for conservation or in attitudes of law makers.
    * People might have different levels of awareness about what monarchs need for survival; some may not know that the monarch migration is endangered.

  4. Ask, What can we do as individuals to be good neighbors for the monarchs as they pass through our community?