Kindergartners Study Monarch Butterflies as Citizen Scientists

This past Friday, Kindergarten students welcomed Loree Griffin Burns, scientist and author of Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. Ms. Burns joined students in their weekly outdoor classroom experience and presented information about the Monarch butterfly life cycle and the process of tagging. She showed students that they can be part of the scientific process by listening, watching and recording observations and discoveries seen on our campus, in parks within the community, or even their own backyards. You can read more about her experience working with Brookwood students on her website

Ms. Burns' visit was just one experience in a broader unit that is taught by Kindergarten teachers Ms. Alexander and Mr. Polletta. Each fall, students study and raise caterpillars into Monarch butterflies, and after tagging each as part of Monarch Watch, the children wave "goodbye" as the butterflies embark on their migration south to Mexico. 

“Even though I have observed the Monarch life cycle alongside my students for many years, their transformation never ceases to amaze me. I learn something new every year as we study these incredible creatures,” Ms. Alexander says. “Students are always captivated as they learn about Monarchs’ anatomy, habitat, migration, and threats to their survival. They become advocates for butterflies as they help scientists track migration patterns and educate others on the importance of planting milkweed. Students arrive at school each day eager and excited to see the remaining caterpillars build their chrysalises and turn into butterflies!"

In addition to the studies taking place in Ms. Alexander and Mr. Polletta's classrooms, Kindergarten students are learning about butterflies through a variety of projects and perspectives. In Spanish class, they are learning about Mexico and butterfly migration habits. They also learned how to say and recognize colors in Spanish while creating their own butterfly artwork. And they recently completed long-term projects in the art room: large mixed-media depictions of the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. In creating their pieces, they explored and worked with a variety of materials ranging from pastels and crayons, to liquid watercolors and cut paper. The artwork is on display throughout the school and two pieces are depicted in the photo gallery below.

The annual study of the Monarch butterfly life cycle is an example of how Brookwood faculty work collaboratively to create a comprehensive unit that is intentionally carried throughout various classrooms, from the art studio and world language to our outdoor spaces. Through these kinds of hands-on learning experiences both in the classroom and outdoors, we seek to inspire students to find joy in learning, ultimately fostering lifelong habits of inquiry, critical thinking and creativity. 


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Artwork by Mia L.

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Artwork by Porter V.


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