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5th Grade Spanish Students Learn About Monarchs

A small tent made of netting sits outside Señora Christine Mayer’s 5th grade Spanish classroom in Schoenberg Hall. Inside the tent, milkweed plants offer a safe habitat and nourishment for caterpillars that will eventually become beautiful monarch butterflies.

“We found the butterflies when we were walking to the pond and we spotted a caterpillar on some milkweed,” Suchitra Thapa ’27 explained. “It was quite the adventure,” added Maahi Saini ’27. Sra. Mayer helped the students carefully collect the milkweed and caterpillars, and the class started learning about monarchs and their journey.

“What do butterflies have to do with Spanish class?” you might ask. Each year, millions and millions of monarch butterflies fly in a great migration from the U.S. and Canada to the mountains in Mexico where they spend the winter. Since our World Languages students go well beyond vocabulary and dive into the history and cultures of the new languages they learn, it makes sense for Middle School Spanish students to discover this important part of the North American ecosystem. “It’s fun to learn about new animals, how they live and how they migrate,” said Saige Rainwater ’27.

The students watched a video called Flight of the Butterflies to learn about the migration experience and they participate in an online tracking system called Journey North, all while watching their own caterpillars transform from chubby, furry bugs to sleek chrysalises and finally to beautiful butterflies. The monarchs will be released near the MICDS pollinator-friendly gardens when they’re ready. As part of their studies, the 5th graders will also draw their own monarchs and write notes in Spanish to students at a school in Mexico.

“Our 5th grade students are like monarchs,” Sra. Mayer said. “They come in and we watch them grow and then fly away to 6th grade!”