Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A great Earth 'day' project: Save the Monarchs!


We had been planning a unit on recycling to celebrate earth day this year. That, was until I recently I read an article about the decline in Monarch Butterfly numbers.

We love Butterflies and I couldn't imagine not seeing Monarch's in our gardens or at the park in the Summer!

Butterflies were also the reason we began this blog nearly two years ago. For Easter 2011 the Piwis received a butterfly garden. The blog was a way to show family how our painted lady caterpillars were growing. Each day Miss K would type a few words into the title of the post and I would add a picture. Eventually we released the butterflies in the Community gardens.

I showed Miss K the article about the Monarchs and she asked how we could help.

To get a better idea of the reasons for the decline we visited Monarch watch. MW is a group that  monitor the numbers of Monarch and their amazing Migration. They have also begun a program to help gardeners set up 'way stations' for the butterflies.

We have learnt so far that the Monarch Host plants (Milkweed) are less abundant. There are apparently multiple environmental and social reasons for this. Thankfully there is still hope: Chip Taylor (Monarch Watch Director) summarizes the situation:

"All in all, it was not a good year for monarchs. While some of the present decline can certainly be attributed to the seasonal conditions last summer, it is the decline of monarch habitats in the United States and Mexico that is the major concern. The good news is that we can do something about the habitats in the United States and Canada – we can plant milkweed. That said, in order to compensate for the continued loss of habitat we need to plant LOTS AND LOTS of milkweed. To assure a future for monarchs, conservation and restoration of milkweeds needs to become a national priority." (source).

With a bit of planning we came up with:

The Piwi Kids 'Save the Monarch Plan'


  • Produce a Lap book that will outline everything we learn about:
  • The Monarch lifecycle and Migration
  • Native milkweed vs. Tropical Milkweed
  • The causes of the decline in Monarch numbers
  • The causes of decline in host plants.


  • Purchase fully grown Milkweed plants. These are on their way  have arrived from Educational Science.
  • Look into the possibility of  hosting a way station and encourage people and public gardens in our community to also host them.
  • Propagate Milkweed Plants from seeds to give to gardeners in our community. You can find these at Live monarch.com  for a small donation. We are waiting for ours to arrive.
  • Make lots of Butterfly crafts!

Field trips: 

  • Visit local community gardens to observe butterflies and identify host plants
  • Visit a Butterfly sanctuary
  • View 'Flight of the butterflies'

To date we have ordered our Milk weed plants and seeds. Next week we begin our research for the lap book. Should be a lot of fun and learning!

I will be pinning resources for this project on our Pinterest board:

What plans do you have for Earth day?