Butterfly Bush Visitors

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The SWBAT conduct research in a collaborative partner team and then create a page for a class book. They will also be able to tell how a plant and an animal are dependent on each other.

Big Idea

Like the milkweed plant, the butterfly bush supports a variety of life. Let's conduct research with a partner using approved websites to find out more!

Teacher Notes

Activity Description:

The children will be connecting what they have already learned about interdependence and apply it to a similar context--a butterfly bush.  Then they will work in a collaborative partner team to do a short research project on an animal by filling in a graphic organizer.  On the organizer, they will note how the animal depends on the butterfly bush and how it depends on the animal.  After, they will use their information to create a page for our classroom book called Butterfly Bush Visitors.  

Note:  The children will need to have access to a computer lab for about 45 minutes.  I split my research times into 2 different days.

NGSS/Common Core Connection:

In the NGSS, the children need to know how living things on Earth are dependent on each other.   In this lesson the children learn about how critters depend on the butterfly bush and how the butterfly bush, in turn, depends on it.  It helps builds their knowledge of interdependence from the lesson titled A Milkweed Community. Also, common core writing skills are integrated as they take it to the next step, and create their own page after completing research with partners.



5 minutes

I call the children to the front to engage them in a research challenge.  I suggest they create a new book titled Butterfly Bush Visitors, instead of Milkweed Visitors. It will explain the life that depends on the butterfly bush and how the butterfly bush depends on its visitors.

Remember when we went on the field trip to my gardens and saw a beautiful bush filled with purple blooms?  It was the bush that you sat by and recorded observations about pollinators.  That bush is called a butterfly bush.  The butterfly bush is just like the milkweed bush.  It has visitors that come and visit it everyday.  Most of those visitors are helpful, but some are not.  Wouldn't it be fun to learn more about those critters by doing some research?  I wonder if we could make a book just like Milkweed Visitors, but call it Butterfly Bush Visitors?

The children are so excited by the idea of researching and writing a book!  They ask if we can go to the computer lab right now.  Some of the children are talking about how this is just the best day.  I honestly didn't expect the amount of excitement that this conjured up.  It really helped that the children had this wonderful real-life experience to connect with.  

If you don't have access to show them a real butterfly bush, don't worry, click here for a photo of one.  Your children will still find this project fun and exciting.  I think the idea of researching on their own and then creating a book is very motivating.


45 minutes

Note: Remember that the research for this project will take 45 minutes.  I divided the time into two different days.  

For this project, I team up partners by varying abilities.  I put an academically stronger child with one that has a more difficult time.  In the NGSS and the Common Core, an emphasis is put on the children working in groups to attain a common goal.  This is paramount in the workforce that they will be in someday.

For this project, I am going to announce who will be working together.  After I have announced all of the names, I would like you to go sit by your partner.  I am going to pass out photos of critters that like to visit my butterfly bush.  I am going to randomly give each partner group one photo and a Research Notes paper.  The photo you receive will be the critter that you will be researching about today.  After you get your photo, I would like you to write the name of the critter in the spot where it says "name of animal."  Then I would like you to give me the photo back so I can keep it for you.  You will need it for your final project.  

For this research, I take the class into our school's computer lab.  They need to find out information about their critter to fill out the graphic organizer.  As part of the standards, they are obtaining information using electronic menus and icons to help them use the media efficiently. The partners work on the same computer, share information, but each need to fill out their own sheet since it makes each person accountable.

Finding websites that are at a second grade reading level is very difficult, so I tried my best.  The websites below offer the best information, but some children will need a strong partner to help with the reading.  I had the computer teacher upload the websites onto the school's webpage for easy access.  My class was able to navigate the websites with minimal directions.  I have also put the websites on a Symbaloo page for easy access.

Butterfly Information Webpages


http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species_search (search by common names)

Insect Information Webpages


(a SUPER very kid-friendly research site )

Frog Information Webpages





Hummingbird Information Webpages






My children had a ball researching.  They did even better than I expected.  I was so proud of the way they were able to find the information and write it down (See student sample of the research).  Even my must reluctant readers were heavily involved in this project because the interest level was so high.  They found out so many interesting facts (see video clip--finding interesting information) and were so excited to share them (see video great investigations)!  They also were checking facts and making connections.  Here is a video of two boys looking at headings to help them find information.




20 minutes

I call the children to the carpet area.  On the Smartboard I pull up a copy of the Butterfly Bush Visitors Final Writing Paper. Click for a Teacher GUIDE of how to fill the organizer out.

 We are going to be completing the next step in the writing process.  You just went to the computer lab and researched lots of information.  As scientists, you will want to share your information with others.  Since we are writing a book to share, you will have to transfer the information you have gathered onto a final writing paper.  I am going to guide you through the process by showing you how to do this step by step.  

For my example, I use my research notes from a photo of a great spangled fritillary (see Butterfly Bush Visitors GUIDED SAMPLE).  Working them through the process helps develop a structure of how the process works.  Many of them have never had an opportunity to complete a writing page like this from their own notes.

On your paper it says "blank is a visitor to the butterfly bush". So on the blank I am going to write Great Spangled Fritillary.  It says it "depends on the butterfly bush for blank."  When I look at my notes I see that I have checked the box that tells that it depends on the butterfly bush for nectar.  So I am going to write nectar in the blank.  The next sentence says "the butterfly bush depends on it for blank."  When I look in my notes, I see that the fritillary helps with pollination.  So I would put pollination in this blank.  Then it says,  "It is blank".  I would have to fill in if it is a predator, nectivore or herbivore.  When I look at my notes, I see I wrote that it is a nectivore, so I will add it here.  

The last part of this paper is just blank lines.  This is where I will write the two interesting facts that I learned.   I need to make sure my ideas are complete.  I need to start with a capital letter and end with a period.  The interesting facts that I am going to write about is that their wingspan is 2 1/2 inches to 4 inches.  

The other fact I found out was caterpillars eat violet leaves.  So I am going to write that information down. When I am done with my work, I will glue the photo into the box.  

Do you have any questions?  I would like you to return to your seats by your research partners and I will pass out your research notes and photographs.  If you need any help, make sure to raise your hand.

Modeling the writing for them is essential.  They need to see how someone writes from their notes step-by-step before attempting it on their own.   

 The students work feverishly to finish the final copy of their research.  Since they had already done all of the thinking and work, this part is going pretty quickly.  I have them glue the photo in the box which really made their work look professional (See Finished Student Sample Butterfly Bush Visitors). Here is another finished student sample. This activity helps them work  towards the goal of obtaining information through research to gather evidence about the natural world.  They will be communicating their information through written form.


15 minutes

As a wrap up, the children will read and share their page with the class.  I celebrate their success and learning with positive praise.  

I am so proud of what you have accomplished!  This is our first research project using the internet.  You did a great job using the menus, icons and headings to help you find facts about your butterfly bush critter.  Then you came back and wrote the information in a final form so you could share the information with others.  Great job, scientists!

After they have all shared, I evaluate their writing, I look for the following:

  1. Did they understand the scientific concept of plants and animals depending on each other? 
  2. Is their information accurate?
  3. Do their ideas make sense?
  4. Do they start each sentence with a capital letter?
  5. Do they end each sentence with a period or exclamation point (if needed)?
  6. Did they write complete ideas?

If a child is having difficulty in expressing their ideas in written form, I will work with them to improve their writing .  One way I do that is to have them express to me their ideas orally and then have them write that same information down.  I also have them reread their ideas themselves to make sure they make sense.