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Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Monarch Search! And Math Game

How is your Labor day going? If you are sitting at your computer, then maybe it isn't going so well!! Get away from here!
No, No NO! Don't go. . .read my blog then you can go!

Someone recently asked what I did on my Labor Day weekend. It usually revolves around getting the last minute things ready for school.

But the most important thing that has happened every year for the last few years is that I collect Monarch caterpillars. In Michigan you can find them all summer long eating on Milk Weed plants. But I wait until this weekend and make a trip back to my mom and dad's farm. They live in a little town called Lennon near Flint, and have a railroad tracks behind their farm. It's loaded with milk weed plants. I take my nieces with me and teach them how to search gently for these critters and how to stay away from the poison ivy!

It wasn't long before we found this guy!

We kept looking and found 6 total! It was a very exciting search!

Life cycles used to be a 2nd grade objective, but now it belongs to 1st. This is one activity I hated to give up! I decided that if I could get my specimens for free, then I could find some time to do a review for these 2nd graders. They (and me too!) find it so interesting to watch the whole process.

Here's some more.

Do you know what that is in the bottom of the jar? Yup! It's poop! Caterpillar poop has a special name. . . it's called Frass! And take one guess as to what color it is?  . . . .
Do you give up?

It's green! Yes it is! Just smear it on paper and you'll see. .  Then go wash your hands!
The ONLY thing that monarch caterpillars eat is milkweed and it's only green, so their poop is only green! This is a great fact that the kids love to remember and share with their families. . .
especially at the dinner table!!!

This little guy died. . . so now I have only 5.

I put this one in my hand so I could move him/her onto some fresh milkweed, and he goes into this fetal position to play dead. . . . but wait!!!
 In just a few seconds, he starts moving around again. . . searching for more green stuff!
Look at the holes in the leaves where they have been eating. Hungry Howies!
This will be their home for the next couple weeks.

I cover the jar with some left over tulle from my kids' weddings and wa la!
We are set to watch them change!
My kids can use this as an intro to our science program, as writing topics, as discussion topics, as measuring their growth, and also as watching them very closely!

Now if you are still with me. . . I have to share something I grabbed from Live Laugh and Love to Learn. 
I saw on her blog a game similar to Boggle, but using numbers instead. If you click on this link and scroll down near the bottom you'll see her game called Add It Up.

I created my own Add It Up game and this is what it looks like.

I'm in the process of making a recording sheet for them to put their problems of adding two or three numbers, but I'm having trouble with excel! Stay tuned. When I get it to work, I'll repost this.

I used my Cricut to make the letters and numbers for this.
 I put them up with clear push pins so I can change them up from time to time.

My kids will use this board when they give those dreaded words we all hear:
 "I'm done! What can I do now?"

I also made a Boggle Board with letters.

I used our Ellison die cut Lollipop letters for the letters and my Cricut for the title.
I'm so excited to have this back up for that Just In Case time!

Ok, now, I'm going to go get some work done on my classroom. . . See ya!
And for all my Michigan friends and others who will see their kids for the first time tomorrow, I wish you a wonderful year with lots of fun while growing and the ability to not let the beauricratic red tape get in your way of doing what you know is best!

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate everyone who comes to visit. Leave me a message and I'll be sure to check out your blog too!


  1. Hi Patty -

    LOVE the monarch caterpillar info . . . we have a little butterfly-weed garden ourselves and got to watch them fight once . . . it was SO interesting! Your students are going to be mesmerized by the process!!

    The Corner On Character

  2. Awesome! I loved doing caterpillars last year!

    Lots of teachers in my building are doing Boggle too... I don't have the space, but wish I did!

    And- yes... let's meet up soon! We should meet up after school one night. I'll come your way since I get out waaaay before you! ;)


  3. Love your monarchs! I do this with Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars in my classroom every year. They eat fennel and their poop is green too! I love it when teachers use natural caterpillars and do not order from the catalogs! :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  4. Awesome!!! Thanks for the shout-out!!! I'm a new follower!!!! :)

    Live Laugh and Love to Learn


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