Each student at SWS visited a museum in December to learn about monarch butterflies, but they didn’t head to the Smithsonian. They went to the second grade hallway!

Ms. Scofield’s second grade class created its own “Monarch Museum” and invited each SWS class to come through to visit the seven student-led exhibits and learn about the butterflies and their magical seeming migration.

Exhibit topics were: Monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis, butterflies, milkweed, life cycles and migration.

Second-grade students broke into small groups over several months to study and research each of these topics, and then presented what they learned over several museum days using multi-media exhibits. The second graders answered questions such as:

  • How many eggs do monarchs lay? (about 200-400)
  • How far is the migration? (3,000 miles)
  • How many eyes do the butterflies have? (6)
  • What do Monarchs eat? (milkweed)

The project grew out of student interest and Reggio-inspired exploration transpired.

butterflyThe project was inspired by several caterpillar eggs that Ms. Scofield brought into the classroom at the beginning of the year. “Since we had the real thing to observe, we began our exploration by looking closely. We looked and talked and then used drawing as a provocation for looking even closer.”

The class watched them hatch into caterpillars and then turn into butterflies. Students became so fascinated by the lifecycle and migration of the butterflies that Ms. Scofield let them research and explore the species. This type of exploration is a perfect example of the Reggio approach at SWS — crafting projects that draw on student interests, and creating an environment to support and extend students’ thinking based on those interests.

The second graders’ research included a trip to the Museum of Natural History, as well as gathering butterfly information inside the classroom and at home.

In Ms. Scofield’s words, here is the unique way this project transpired and evolved:


Rachel Carson is an inspiration for projects like these. She put it like this in her book, The Sense of Wonder:

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement.

It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”


Here are some images from the students’ preparation of the Monarch Museum: