Taking Action Through Literacy and Artwork: Helping Butterflies | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G2:M4:U3

Taking Action Through Literacy and Artwork: Helping Butterflies

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In Unit 3, students apply their knowledge about plants and pollinators to help one important pollinator: butterflies. Building on knowledge from Modules 3 and 4, students read about how planting wildflowers helps butterflies. For their performance task, students are invited to take action by creating a wildflower seed packet to then give away a school or family member. The front of the wildflower seed packet includes a title and colored pencil drawing of a monarch butterfly. The back of the wildflower seed packet includes instructions for planting wildflower seeds and an opinion piece telling people why they should help butterflies.

During the Closing of each lesson, students complete both a written and oral reflection. This reflection serves as a scaffold for the Unit 3 Assessment, in which students share their formal reflection on their work and learning throughout Module 4 in small groups. As a culmination of the work of Module 4, students write letters inviting school and family members to a Celebration of Learning, where they share their reflections and give their seed packets to a guest.

Recall that EL Education believes that high-quality work is a reflection and result of the high expectations teachers have for all students. Thus, it is a means to excellence and equity. The performance task for this module allows for students to create high-quality work based on their deep knowledge of pollinators. Using the literacy skills built throughout the school year, knowledge built in Modules 3 and 4, and cycles of drafting, critique and revision, students are able to create a high-quality product (the performance task) that showcases their learning for the year.

Unit 3 supports this work with both the design of its lessons and the use of optional flex days. In addition to the opportunities for critique, feedback, and revision, students are given an opportunity to present their work to an audience from outside of the classroom. Creating work for an authentic audience motivates students to meet standards and engage in revision. Through the process, they develop perseverance and they realize that they can do more than they thought they could.

The purpose of the optional flex days in this unit is to allow for additional time, as needed, to support students with use of technology, drafting of artwork, and student presentations for a high-quality end of year performance task. Refer to the unit-at-a-glance chart for additional information.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How can people take action to help butterflies?
  • If we do small things in our community, we can make a big difference.
  • How does reflecting help me grow as a learner?
  • Reflection helps students to see their growth as learners.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Taking Action Through Literacy and Artwork: Helping Butterflies
  • Task: Wildflower Seed Packet
  • Targets (CCSS explicitly taught and assessed): SL.2.1a, SL.2.1b, SL.2.6
  • Text:  A Place for Butterflies


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one  standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the Integrated Literacy Block of the school day. The module also intentionally incorporates science and social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in second grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies or science standards during other parts of the school day.)

NGSS Science Standards:

  • 2-LS2-2: Plants depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Civ.2.K-2: Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play important roles in a community.
  • D2.Civ.10.K-2: Compare their own point of view with others' perspectives.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students continue  working to contribute to a better world. Throughout Unit 3, students work to apply their learning to help their community by creating and distributing wildflower seed packets that support butterfly growth and survival.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across all three components of this primary curriculum: module lessons, Labs, and the Reading Foundations Skills Block (see the module overview).

For Unit 1, during the independent reading in the Skills block, reinforce the comprehension skills and standards that students are practicing during the integrated Literacy block:

  • RI.2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
    • Invite students to use both the illustrations and the text to answer questions about key details.
    • Read aloud the first few pages of an informational text and ask:
      • "What is the gist of this text? What new information did you learn?"
  • RI.2.3: Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
    • Invite students to paraphrase the steps in a procedure to ensure understanding.

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 8-10, as students may need additional time to orally process and prepare notes for their Module 4 reflections. Be sure to complete the Language Dive in Lesson 8. Consider using additional flex days to do so, or placing less focus and condensing instruction on writing wildflower seed planting instructions in Lesson 4 and on seed packet assembly in Lesson 8.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in a Mini Language Dive in Lesson 1, and ELLs can participate in an optional Language Dive in Lesson 8. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in deconstructing, reconstructing, and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from guiding questions and teacher models. See the Tools page for additional information on Language Dives.
  • Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Goals 1-4 Conversation Cues (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). See the Tools page for additional information on Conversation Cues.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students discuss taking action to contribute to their community and protecting pollinators. Invite students to share experiences with taking action in their communities and with pollinators and plants in their families or amongst their cultures. As you prepare for the Celebration of Learning at the end of the unit, consider arranging for school staff or community members to provide oral interpretation for parents who speak languages other than English. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion concerns.
  • Wildflower seed packet writing piece: Students use their research from Unit 2 to write a short piece stating two reasons to plant wildflower seed packets. ELLs benefit from returning to familiar content and text structure. Make use of anchor charts and their work from Unit 2 to engage this prior knowledge. Consider encouraging students use the color-coding system from Unit 2 to support their work on this piece. For heavier support, consider working closely with a small group of students to complete the piece as a shared writing experience.
  • Writing reflection notes and presenting: Throughout the unit, students respond to prompts to write notes on their reflections about their work and their areas of growth throughout Module 4. It may be challenging for some students to articulate some of these concepts, as expressing long-term growth requires the use of abstract language. Consistently model and think-aloud the cognitive process and expression of reflecting on growth. Invite students to practice using the provided sentence frames orally and in writing before thinking and writing independently. As students rehearse and present their reflections, consider strategically sequencing the presentations, inviting more confident students to present first.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
A Place for Butterflies
by Melissa Stewart
One per student
ISBN: 9781561457847

Preparation and Materials

For basic lesson preparation, refer to the materials list and Teaching Notes in each lesson. The following are unusual materials that may take more time or effort to organize or prepare.

  • Lesson 1: 5 seed packets (variety of flowers and/or produce) purchased from local hardware or gardening store; image of local butterfly printed in color
  • Lesson 2: Drawing paper (blank; heavy weight such as cardstock if possible; 4.5" x 5.5"; 1 piece per student)
  • Lesson 5-7: Device (for word processing; one per student)
  • Lesson 8: local wildflower seeds
  • Lesson 12-13: Device (optional: for use sharing "Bunnyyarl the Flies and Wurrunnunnah the Bees" videobooks)

Technology and Multimedia

  • YouTube Additional research: Students view Amanda's video to to learn more about her family's trip to see the monarchs. 
  • Word-Processing Tool - Type wildflower seed packet writing piece: Students use a word-processing tool to type their wildflower seed packet writing piece. 
  • Google Docs - Students view writing and revising process online: Students view the Celebration of Learning welcome letter in an online format, and help write and revise it. 
  • Butterflies and Moths website - Localizing the performance task: Students find images of local butterflies to use when creating their wildflower seed packet butterfly drawing. 
  • Video Device (e.g. laptop, interactive white board, or smartphone) - Show videobooks during the end-of-module Celebration of Learning: Students invite guests to view "Bunnyyarl the Flies and Wurrunnunnah the Bees" videobooks from Unit 1 using a device with video capabilities.


Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day.  They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages:  Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Invite school community members or families to share their experiences with gardening/growing plants that attract pollinators.


  • Invite a gardener, groundskeeper, or entomologist to visit the class and teach about local wildflower/butterflies.
  • Invite students from the upper grades to come and talk about how they liked to play when they were in second grade and how they learned to share.


  • Take small groups of students to search for local wildflowers and butterflies in gardens or natural areas surrounding the school.
  • Take the class to a school or local butterfly garden or nature park/preserve to learn about local wildflowers and butterflies.


  • Invite students to read grade-level folktales or fable to a younger group of students.


  • Choose a local butterfly to have students draw for the performance task (a wildflower seed packet).
  • Plant a butterfly garden near the school. Invite another class of students (younger or older) to help plant wildflower seeds. 

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