Second Grade Students Build Community Butterfly Garden on Campus

By Luis Arevalo, Second Grade Teacher

With support from teachers and parents, students developed a solution to a cause near to their hearts.
Do you ever wonder about the second grade experience at Crossroads? Second grade is a project year. While in kindergarten and first grade, students work on developing social-emotional skills and listening to others, in second grade they learn to put their ideas into action.

Second grade is where the word “yes” becomes a verb—a place where students with ideas and passions can share them with the School. We bring our social studies units to life with the unique contributions of our students and their experiences. We study identity and students complete an “I am” project; we learn about maps and communities before students tackle a “family history” project; we delve into government and citizenship with their “jury duty” project. Our final unit of study culminates in a restaurant experience at the end of the year. The second grade “restaurant” project teaches students about running and sharing a small business in the real world. 

Like many good project ideas, the Elementary School Butterfly Garden started with three friends in different classes at recess. Melanie Pulido, Audrey Valdez and Lexi Zhang couldn’t help but notice that butterflies don’t stop to visit the Elementary School courtyard. These friends paused their playtime to ask: “Why don’t the butterflies stop by the courtyard? What can we do to help them to visit us?” The students wanted to know more about the issues butterflies faced in our natural world, so we decided to host a Q&A with Crossroads landscaper Will Garcia. We invited Will to our classroom, and he helped the students learn more about butterflies and how their life cycles, needs and habitats have been endangered by global climate change and human encroachment. Students learned that certain plants attract butterflies and can provide a food source for caterpillars, too. This set the stage for what came next! 

During their next recess, the friends created an animal rescue club to save the butterflies and bees. They asked second grade teachers if they could take instructional time to announce their animal rescue club to the class and recruit more friends to join them. Immediately, the second grade teaching team said, “Yes,” and “What else can we do to help?” 
In the weeks following, Melanie’s parents donated a mix of Vibrant Red Monkeyflower and Narrow Leaf Milkweed plants from the Theodore Payne Foundation, a nonprofit nursery dedicated to California native plants. Melanie’s father, Carlos, is a professional landscaper and arborist. He hosted a butterfly care and preservation workshop and, along with all the children in second grade, planted a butterfly garden in the courtyard, next to the Elementary School Admission office. This student-initiated project is the perfect example of where the magic of Crossroads begins, and now, we’re all working towards a shared purpose.

Next comes the work of maintaining our butterfly garden for years to come and continuing to build on the legacy of these second grade students. The only question left to ask is: “What’s our next project?”