Unit 4: Social Studies Connection

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Protecting the Magnificent Monarchs

illustration of a monarch butterfly

Early in 2002, millions of monarch butterflies died from unusually rainy and cold weather in Mexico. Scientists are worried about the survival of these delicate creatures.

The monarchs' home in Mexico is slowly being destroyed. By law, trees cannot be cut down in certain areas of forest where the butterflies spend the winter. However, some people are cutting down the trees illegally.

The trees are very important to the survival of monarchs. "The forest is like an umbrella," said butterfly expert Lincoln Brower. "If you chop holes in the umbrella, you cause trouble. The butterflies get cold and wet and freeze to death."

Mexican government officials are working with scientists to stop illegal logging. They are trying to preserve, or save the forest.

Monarchs on the Move

Monarch butterflies migrate, or move from one area to another. Each fall, monarchs in North America head south for the winter. Most travel to the mountains of central Mexico. Some travel to Florida, California, and Texas. In the spring, the butterflies migrate north.

Some monarchs travel up to 3,000 miles each way! They are the only butterflies in the world that make such a long, round-trip migration. Scientists hope to protect the magnificent monarchs by saving the forest. "If the forest continues to be cut down, the monarchs will have no place to go," said Brower.

Word Wise

delicate:
Easily broken; fragile: The petals of a flower can be very delicate.

destroy:
To completely ruin: My baby brother destroyed my house of cards.

illegal:
Against the law: It is illegal to drive over the speed limit.

round-trip:
Going to a place and back again: We took a round-trip train ride to Boston and home again.

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Activity

Make a glossary for the "Protecting the Magnificent Monarchs" article. Choose ten words, and find their definitions in the dictionary. Write the words and their definitions on a piece of paper. Use each word in a sentence, and draw a picture to go with each definition. You may include the words that have already been defined for you.

Data Hunt

Create a poster to help scientists save the monarch butterflies. Your poster should tell people all about the monarch butterflies and the dangers they face. The poster should include:

  • Facts about Monarch butterflies (You may use an encyclopedia and the article to find these facts.)
  • A picture or drawing of a monarch butterfly
  • Some things people can do to help save the Monarchs (Use your imagination to think of some solutions to the monarchs' problems.)