Family Monarch Study – How To Conduct a Nature Study Follow-Up

In any blackboard reading lesson, and, so far as possible, in individual written work by the children, tell —
First. What I did.
Second. What I saw.
Third. What I thought.
If this order is habitually followed, the children are more apt to think for themselves, and to base their conclusions on what they have seen. If told in the first person, as far as possible, class reproduction is apt to be more thoughtful and the pupil’s work more individual.
Nature Study and the Child by Charles Scott, 1900

What We Did:
We sat in the garden on several occasions to try to spy out some butterflies as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge for summer butterflies. Mom had her camera and was ready to snap some images if a beauty came along. We mostly saw bees of various kinds and the occasional dragonfly.

Fiery Skipper from 2009 – I forgot to plant my cosmos this year…just realized.

What We Saw:
Western Tiger Swallowtail (We studied this butterfly during the summer of 2011.)
Cabbage White
Fiery Skipper (We identified this way back in 2007.)

Swallowtail on butterfly bush
Photo from a few weeks ago showing the damaged wing.

What We Thought:
We wondered why we never see the caterpillars in our yard so we investigated the host plant for the Western Tiger Swallowtail. Turns out we have no host plants so that solves that mystery. The host plants are: willow, cottonwood, and chokecherry. (You can use this link to learn about host plants: Create a Butterfly Garden.)

We also noticed that quite a few of the butterflies that come to our yard have tattered wings. We did a little research and found that butterflies can still fly even with up to 70% of their wings missing. It is really a blessing that they are capable of flying even after a bird has taken a bite out of their wings. (See this webpage.) Did you know that some people actually repair a butterfly’s broken wings? Never knew that.

I forgot to mention here on the blog that my milkweed that I had been nurturing along for a few years in a pot on my deck was totally and completely destroyed by the roofers that came to roof our house back in June. They somehow managed to dump it to the ground and it was just smashed into a million pieces, beyond saving. I shed a few tears and promised myself that I would try again. Reminds me I need to order some more seeds and buy a new pot. I am determined to start a monarch habitat in my yard.

Butterfly garden June 2012 (14)
We didn’t see any monarchs this week but we did last month.

So to wrap up this post, I want to encourage you to try the simple process that Charles Scott outlined in the quote at the top of this post. It is an easy way to structure a nature journal entry….even young children could give a few words in response to the prompts.

 First. What I did.
Second. What I saw.
Third. What I thought.

 

Comments

  1. Oh Barbara, so sorry to hear about your milkweed. I too have been trying to establish a monarch area. One reason is that I would like to buy some caterpillars and they will not ship unless you have the plants. doing research for this falls lessons I came across this video; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah0SBALIc0o
    It actually shows the repair process. It was amazing! Many thanks again for the hours you have given us.

  2. I planted 2 milkweed plants from seed several years ago. Each year they spread and this year I had probably 10 plants. Unfortunately I’ve never seen a monarch caterpillar on any of these plants. And even though they have produced beautiful fragrant flowers late spring/early summer I’ve yet to see even one pod form. It’s been disappointing. I don’t think the drought has helped much either!

    But I keep saying, “Maybe next year!”

  3. I’m sorry about your milkweed. I need to begin some here– do have suggestions for resources for seeds?

  4. Milkweed seeds:

    Free-
    http://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm

    I purchased mine from here:
    http://www.butterflyencounters.com/index.html

    Hope that helps.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We want to establish a monarch area and will be getting a seed kit from Monarch Watch. My hubby is concerned about milkweed spreading all over the yard. So, I’m wondering why yours was planted in a pot rather than the ground. Does this reduce the amount that it will spread?

    Jeni

  6. My milkweed has been in a rather large pot because when I planted it in the garden it didn’t do well. I found it much easier to nurture it when I had it up on the back deck where I thought to water it. I was hoping this year to get it into the ground since it seemed to be doing well but I didn’t get a chance.

    I will try again.

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