Giving Gifts: What to Expect Next Spring
Monarch symbolizes the gift of goodwill that each country must contribute
to ensure the survival of this shared natural resource. Conservation of
monarch habitat depends on citizens and countries that may have different
circumstances, laws, values, and priorities.
Migration is full of risks and dangers. A great many real monarchs never
survive the return trip. The same is true for the Symbolic Monarchs. In
past years, the number of Symbolic Monarchs returned in the spring has been
as low as 60% of those sent in the fall. Our challenge is to make this a
positive learning experience for students. This requires preparing them
in the fall. (This can also be a good springboard for teaching about the
true risks of migration.)
Students explore what it means to give or receive a gift. They can then
align their expectations about symbolic monarch spring returns with the
realities of the Symbolic Monarch project.
A gift bag or a gift-wrapped box
a wrapped gift and ask the class what it represents. Rather than have
students than try to identify what's inside, ask, Why do people
give gifts (e.g., to celebrate occasions or express gratitude, love,
- Pass the
gift to a student. Ask the class to share some appropriate responses
to make after receiving a gift. (Look for examples of both verbal and
written ways of saying "thank you.")
Have you ever given a gift without expecting something in return?
Tell the class that the Symbolic Monarchs they send to the children
of Mexico are gifts; they should be sent without expectation of receiving
something in return.
out that giving a gift also means letting go of something that was yours.
Ask students to think of gifts they've given that they wished they could
- Ask, Why
do you think we are sending these gifts to students in Mexico?
Remind students that the people of Mexico live in or near habitats that
butterflies and other migratory animals need to survive during cold
winters up north. Explain that it is a huge responsibility — and
sometimes a sacrifice — for the Mexican people to preserve overwintering
habitat. Remind them that monarchs travel between some of the richest
and poorest regions in our hemisphere. Our
Symbolic Monarchs are a way of saying "thank you."
that some symbolic monarchs will make their way back north, and ask,
factors (e.g., economic differences) might result in differences in
the appearance of symbolic monarchs that are exchanged.
if students are in a school with no computers on which to type their
will availability and quality of art materials affect the butterflies'
After the discussions, have the class state their expectations about giving
and receiving during Symbolic Monarch Migration. Record their responses
and revisit them in the spring.
- Have students
investigate how they can help protect the winter sanctuaries in Mexico.
Visit the Monarch Sanctuary Foundation
Web site to see what others are doing to help monarchs.
- Last year,
participants in Journey North's Symbolic Monarch Migration raised $6000
for monarch habitat conservation. Discuss how your classroom can participate
in this global community service project to support monarch conservation.
Design a classroom project or campaign for raising money to support
the Monarch Sanctuary Foundation.