Elementary students observed monarch caterpillars and worked with their table to sketch a plan for their collaborative collage.
I started this project by introducing my students to our new class pets – four monarch caterpillars! Then, we got comfy on the carpet and read When Butterflies Cross the Sky. I love this book because it accurately describes the life cycle, has beautiful illustrations and gets my kiddos excited about monarchs.
I created a set of photo references for each table; I wanted them to be able to practice drawing each of the stages. I let the students decide how they were going to split up the Sketch Packet. There were four images (milkweed, caterpillars, chrysalis and butterfly) and each of my tables has four seats. With their background knowledge from the book we read, they were able to jump in and use the correct vocabulary for their sketches.
I was so impressed by how intricate their sketches were. Before they started drawing, we talked for a minute about observing and paying close attention to the details we see. It was amazing how much of an impact that quick conversation had!
After they finished practicing their individual drawing, they added their image to the larger sketch. The bigger plan helped them to see how all of the different elements could come together. I reminded them that they could change their mind when they started cutting out and gluing the shapes.
I also included a page where the students could brainstorm as a table about what “extra” thing they wanted to add to their project. It was important to me they were able to add their own creativity. It was such a fun step to have – we ended up with pigs, flowers, monster trucks and all kinds of other additions to our life cycle collages.
For the majority of my students, it took them the whole class period to sketch and plan with their group. If a table finished early, I let them pick out a book about monarchs and read it together. They really enjoyed Hurry and the Monarch, Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, and The Seeds of the Milkweed.