With all the stressors of testing and standards-driven education, it's time to take the children outdoors for more authentic learning experiences. By challenging, engaging, and getting the kids thinking about their natural surroundings, they will love learning new things. As you teach them about monarch butterflies and their dwindling numbers, engage their imagination and have them come up with ways to help.
It can be as simple as creating a garden outside your classroom window. Let the kids research native plants and plant them. Be sure to add milkweed plants, the only source of food for the Monarch caterpillars. Allow them to tend to the garden and find solutions when faced with problems. You can build upon this experience by making it multi-disciplinary. Bring in language arts by reading aloud to the students outside, use math skills to collect data on the pollinators who visit, and tie in life cycles in science.
Beside the garden, have some tools nearby that will make teaching easier. A whiteboard with markers is a good way to start, and the students can bring their notebooks, pencils, and crayons. Your setting can be formal with chairs, or more relaxed where kids can sit on the ground. Either way, make going outdoors part of your regular routine.
What better way to learn about monarchs and other pollinators than seeing them firsthand? The visual connection and outdoor experience will help children remember and apply what they've learned when it comes time to taking tests. More importantly, they will learn to work together and use critical thinking, skills that will benefit them for life.