Mirabella the Monarch's Magical Migration Make-A-School Project. Pictured here are the student illustrators standing in the shape of a monarch butterfly.
Parker Woods Montessori mural close up. Caterpillar dreaming of becoming a butterfly mini-story.
Here is a close-up of a four-panel mini-story created by Scott and three students at Parker Woods Montessori. (Read more about the story below.) We're honored that our mini-story got featured in the middle.

Success — More monarch butterflies and more young readers

Pictured above is the incredible tile wall installed this school year at Parker Woods Montessori. This tile mosaic could last a 1000 years. I hope my book lasts half that long! Below we highlight some more projects that coincided with our Make-A-Book Project. It was a busy year. c

Side note: If you read all our posts about this book project, you’ll see many more great activities, like the Glow Show Art Show.

Here is a low-resolution picture of the butterfly section of a giant mosaic tile wall. These are a few nice drawings that didn’t fit in the book, plus a variation of the cover with my favorite inspirational quote, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” In this case, a caterpillar dreams of becoming a butterfly.

4-panel, mini-story

Mural close-up of a four-panel, mini-story created by Scott and 3 students. It goes like this: 

1) The mother butterfly asks the caterpillar. “If you could do anything, what would you do?”

2) The caterpillar dreams of becoming a butterfly.

3) She grows into a beautiful butterfly.

4) Then in the last square, she gets married, has her own children and lives happily ever after.

I hope every student who sees this asks themselves the same question. “If I could do anything, what would I do?”

Parker Woods Montessori Mural
Parker Woods Montessori mural by PTO co-president, Kate Demske and installed by Rick Wolf of Wolf Custom Tile. The mural is now a permanent art installation in the school.
Parker Woods Montessori mural close up.
Parker Woods Montessori Mural close-up of the blue panel

Below you’ll also see some more pictures of my garden. At the book celebration event, not only did every student get a free book, but they got a packet of seeds to help butterflies and other pollinators. So, I imagined our whole Northside neighborhood has about 500 new gardens. I planted about 3 dozen milkweed plants in my own yard. Milkweed is the only plant caterpillars eat. I also have about 5 giant butterfly bushes. These are like nectar gas stations for the monarchs on their long journey both north to the Great Lakes and back south to Mexico. So, I counted monarchs and got up to 26 this year. I think that must mean that there were at least 260 who visited my garden and are on their way to Mexico. I think I even had one caterpillar based on a defoliated milkweed plant. So, I call this a big success.

Parker Woods Montessori Elementary School website homepage featuring Scott's picture of the students in staff standing in the shape of a monarch butterfly. Notice the orange and black colors.
An unexpected success! I love these kinds of serendipitous surprises. Cincinnati Public Schools liked this photograph so much they featured it on their website homepage. It’s the students and staff of Parker Woods Montessori standing in the shape of a monarch butterfly. Notice the orange and black colors.

My first year here, my front lawn was nothing but grass and I never even saw one monarch butterfly. A few swallowtails, but no monarchs. It did take a lot of effort to terrace my yard and plant a garden instead of grass. Now I have created a whole ecosystem. Not only bees and butterflies but earthworms and all kinds of other things. And all this has attracted a flock of orioles and so much more. I’m telling you a grass lawn is the next worst thing to a parking lot.

I’m hoping the butterfly count at Parker Woods Montessori is going just as well. I haven’t talked much about the book itself. But I have met quite a few kids and they all said they enjoyed the story. Just getting a kid to read a book these days seems like a win. And, of course, we got about 100 student drawings in the book and about 150 honorable mentions.

And another BIG SUCCESS! We gave away 545 books to students, plus about another 60 books to teachers, libraries and other schools. since then I’ve met quite a few students who loved the book. One parent said that their child reads the book every night before they go to bed.

Once again, thanks to all the volunteers to make it happen!

A clipping from the school newspaper with the story of Carson the Caterpillar and an illustration of a monarch chrysalis.
A clipping from the school newspaper with a story, “The life of Carson the Caterpillar.” I was surprised to see what might be called a prequel to “Mirabella the Monarch.” I was happy to see that the book project inspired these two young authors to keep the story alive.
Two monarch butterflies on a butterfly bush
Two monarch butterflies on a butterfly bush. Lots of students began their own butterfly gardens. Actually, we gave a pack of native flower seeds to every family!
Male monarch butterfly on a butterfly bush
Male monarch butterfly visiting my monarch butterfly garden. Here he is drinking some nectar on my butterfly bush. In the backyard, are the milkweed plants for the caterpillars.

Acknowledgments: The mural was created by art teacher Suzanne Nall, PTO co-president and artist Kate Demske, and Rick Wolf of Wolf Custom Tile and Design.

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More stories about the making of this book

Finally, the best part of the whole project — the book celebration. We were honored to have hundreds of community members attend and support both the book and the monarch butterfly.
Like many species on our planet, monarch butterflies face many challenges. The population has shrunk dramatically, and their great migration has nearly collapsed more than once. Here is how you can help.
This is another one of my favorite all-time photographs. Unlike the past three photographs where I was standing on the roof of the school, this is photographed using a drone. It took hours of preparation and was called off several times. Read more about how I made this photos.
Footprint in the sand

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