De Minnesota a Michoacán: La migración de las Mariposas Monarca
Lesson 03 La Mariposa Bailarina

Submitted by Jennifer Christiansen


Students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the reasons that monarchs migrate.
  • Identify the characteristics of a monarch habitat both in Minnesota, while migrating and in Mexico.


Language: Content Obligatory
Students will:

  • Use key vocabulary words in the story to retell the main events ( Nouns: la mariposa, el bosque, la estrella, la luna, Canadá, la luz , el viaje , la dirección, el calor, el camino, las orugas, los capullos, las alas; Verbs: volaron, bailaba, dijo, llegaron, se convirtió).
  • Use sequence words to retell the story events in order (Primero, luego, antes, un día, después, entonces, finalmente, por fin, el próximo día).
  • Use the imperfect and preterit forms of the verbs (3rd person singular and plural) accurately to retell story events. (volaban, llegaron, había, era, danzaba, soñaba, dijo, contó, estaban, fueron, preguntaron, contestó, apareció, vino, fue, vio, volaron, vivían).

Language: Content Compatible
Students will:

  • Use language to describe the similarities and differences between the story and the video. (Son diferentes porque . . , Son semejantes porque, En el video las mariposas ____________ pero en el cuento ________________. . . )

Learning Strategies / Social and Skills Development:
Students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to differentiate between fact and fiction.
  • Use story illustrations to predict the main events, problems and solutions that will take place in La Mariposa Bailarina.
  • Work cooperatively to complete the assigned task.
  • Use listening skills to infer meaning of new words in the story.

Time Frame:

4-5 50-minute periods

Materials Needed:

  • Book: La Mariposa Bailarina (see Resources below)
  • chart paper
  • preterit/imperfect worksheet (see Attachments below)
  • story pyramid
  • monarch video, VCR
  • sentence strips
  • pocket chart
  • Monarch "double bubble" template using Inspiration software - or Venn diagram using Word, etc. (example in Attachments below)
  • transparencies of Bailarina book
  • sentence strips.

Description of Assessment (Performance Project):

Have students share the poems that they began yesterday. Begin a "Monarchs need" list of the things that monarchs must have when in Minnesota, while migrating and in Mexico.

---Day 1---
Read the book La Mariposa Bailarina by Carlos Ruvalcaba to the class one time. Have students make statements comparing the story to the video that they saw yesterday. (Son diferentes porque . . , Son semejantes porque, En el video las mariposas ____________ pero en el cuento ________________. . . )

Introduce the terms hecho and ficción. Discuss the fact that sometimes ficticious stories can be based on facts. Have students work in pairs to create a "double bubble" chart to list 5 things that the real monarchs and the monarchs in the story have in common as well as 4 things that are different for each of them.

---Day 2---
Read the book again, this time showing the first several pages on transparencies which have the past tense verbs highlighted. Make a chart listing both the imperfect and preterit of the following verbs in both singular and plural third person tenses from the story: ser, decir, contar, vivir, ver, comer. Discuss patterns that they notice in the different ways that the verbs end and begin a list separating the preterit and imperfect verbs.

Continue reading the story, showing the pages as each is read. Have students write down the verbs in the past that they see and hear.

After finishing the stories, have the each group of 3-4 students choose 6-8 different verbs that they recorded and write each one on a separate sentence strip. Have the students decide which category their verbs fit into and bring them up to the chart.

Explain that Spanish uses two different types of past tense verbs; one is used for events that happened and are done, and the other is used for things that continued over a longer period of time. Show students the following examples from the story and discuss why each tense is used:

Hace ya muchísmos años, miles y miles de hermosas mariposas llegaron a un bosque de Michoacón, en México.

Cuando empezaba a atardecer y las mariposas se preparaban para dormir en las ramas de los árboles, Lucero danzaba para ellas y todas aplaudían la belleza de sus movimientos.

Y sin decir más, la Luna se ocultó misteriosamente detrás las nubes.

Ya se terminó el néctar de las flores, se quejaron unas.

Have students work in pairs to choose the correct verb to complete each sentence on the preterite/imperfect worksheet which also contains sentences from the story.

---Day 3---
Have students generate a list of 7-8 activities they have done as a class that week. Write them on sentence strips, and have each of the following sequence words prepared on sentence strips as well: primero, luego, antes, un día, después, entonces, finalmente, por fin, el próximo día. As a class, work to place the events in order and add an appropriate sequence word to the sentence. Explain that they will use those sequence and transition words to retell a shortened version of La Mariposa Bailarina. They will choose at least 4 of the sequence words to use during the next activity.

Have students work in pairs to complete a story pyramid following these instructions:

Story Pyramid
Line 1.
Write the name of the main character.
Line 2. Write two words describing the main character.
Line 3. Write three words to name three things that the character does at the beginning of the story.
Line 4. Write four words to describe the setting.
Line 5. Using five words, write a sentence that tells about the first important event that happened to the character.
Line 6. Using six words, write a sentence that tells about the second important event that happened to the main character.
Line 7. Using seven words, write a sentence that tells about the third important event that happened to the main character.
Line 8. Using eight words, write a sentence to explain the solution to the problem.

After completing the story map, the partners will get together with another pair of students and practice retelling the story to each other, making sure that they are using both transition/sequence words as well as the correct form of the past tense.


The students' story pyramids and double bubble will be collected.

Pairs of students will tape record a retelling of the story to be assessed.

References and Resources:

Monarca "La Leyenda" (2000) [Video tape], Mexico City.

Ruvalcaba, Carlos. (2000). La Mariposa Bailarina. Miami: Santillana. Order from

See the CoBaLTT Strategies module for an editable Venn Diagram graphic organizer


NOTE: some attachments are in PDF form (get Acrobat Reader)

 "Double Bubble" (Venn Diagram) (Word doc)

or alternate concept map
  - Example (jpg)
  - Blank template (jpg)

Preterite/imperfect worksheet (Word doc)