Monarch Visions and a Visit to See the Butterflies

As part of their science curriculum the second grade students at Mount Madonna School have been studying life cycles. Students learned about insect, amphibian and mammal life cycles, and then focused on the monarch butterfly.

For this more focused study, the students read and wrote reports about the monarchs and completed creative art projects. For one of the projects, students folded sheets of watercolor paper in half, then drew partial a butterfly body – one antenna and one set of wings – on half of the paper. They painted the outlines with a mixture of white glue and black tempera paint, and then carefully folded and gently pressed to mark the other half of the paper with a perfectly symmetrical butterfly print. Once the outlines dried, the students painted them with bright watercolors, adding detail.

“I am a big believer in creative expression as another avenue of exploring knowledge, connections and feelings,” commented teacher Hamsa Heinrich, who helped to guide students in their studies and led the art projects. “Some teachers foster this through music, theater or movement, but visual arts comes most naturally to me so art projects are always part of my curriculum. It’s great to have different ways for the children to affirm their learning in a variety of ways. Perhaps some are strong writers or speakers. Others may shine in an artistic interpretation of a subject.”

Their projects were followed up with a field trip the following week to Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, where they viewed the migrating monarchs in their winter habitat of a eucalyptus grove, the only State Monarch Preserve in California.

“The culminating activity of witnessing monarchs in their natural habitat at Natural Bridges, while understanding their migrating patterns, really brought to life the concept of life cycles and the necessary elements living things need to survive,” commented second grade teacher Prema Gammons. “The second graders were able to grasp each stage in this continuing process on a deeper level and how we all are all part of a greater shared environment.”

“I love that our school makes time to take the children outside the classroom environment for further learning,” said Heinrich. “Academically, it gives new insight, depth and reinforces learned information. Equally important, it provides new opportunities for students to connect socially. By creating memorable, positive shared moments within a class, serves to gel students into a community of learners.”



Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.