Helping Butterflies Spread Their Wings

Helping Butterflies Spread Their Wings photo

Fifth-grade students in Cathy Mongiello’s class alongside Sandra Fantauzzi’s fourth-graders at Cherokee Street Elementary School are helping to repopulate the butterfly population. They are using the school’s native plant community garden, which has been named an official monarch butterfly waystation by the Monarch Watch organization.

The school’s garden, which lies directly in front of the main entrance to the building, is home to a large number of dormant milkweed plants, an important source of nutritional value to monarch caterpillars. With these milkweed plants present, large numbers of monarch butterflies were attracted to the location, and soon began to colonize and make the garden their new home. 

With the assistance of their teachers, the students used their scientific knowledge to classify these caterpillars, and sketched their progress in nature journals as they transformed from larvae to caterpillar, chrysalis and ultimately a beautiful butterfly. They also collected facts on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. According to Mrs. Fantauzzi, the class is hoping to create a photo journal of this experience to share with the community after the adult monarch butterflies take flight.

“Seeing the children come out and experience what’s happening in their environment in a real time, real world setting and be able to connect to it on such a personal level is more meaningful than anything I could have done within the classroom,” said Mrs. Fantauzzi. “Being able to see the excitement within them each day in anticipation of what’s happening next has been so rewarding, both for them and myself.”