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Moon Phases

Compiled By: Mrs. G

Have fun while teaching the phases of the moon with these exciting activities.

Moon Phase Book
Posted by: Lori 2

A neat project that I have done with much success is a moon phase book. We do this project after I have read The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Branley and/or Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. We also do this after the students have observed the changes in the moon over a period of time or we have shown how the moon phases work in class with a flashlight, globe and ball.


4 cheap paper plates -- the real flimsy kind that you don't want to eat on because the won't hold the food -- per student

Brads -- 1 per student

crayons -- at least one black for each student


Hole punch


Color one whole plate black.

Students may color the other plates yellow or just leave white. If they want they may draw moon features on the other plates. Leave one of these plates whole. Cut one of the plates in half. Keep half and discard the other half. Cut the other plate so that you wind up with a crescent and gibbous moon shape.

Now stack the plates together beginning with the black whole plate on bottom, the crescent shape next, then the half, then the gibbous moon shape and top it off with the whole white plate.

Punch a hole through all layers at the bottom. Make sure you catch the crescent and gibbous shapes.

Now flip your book open so that the black plate shows. This is your new moon. Flip the crescent shape over the full moon to represent the waxing crescent. Then the half plate for a waxing quarter and the gibbous for a waxing gibbous. Then turn up the full plate for a full moon. Now hold the book the opposite way and repeat the process folding down the plates for the waning phases of the moon.

I hope that makes sense. It's difficult to write without pictures to show how to put it together and use it. Once we get our moon books made and practice a few times, I'll ask the class to show say a waxing gibbous and have them hold their books up for me to see. I can easily see if anyone is having difficulty.

phases of the moon lesson
Posted by: lh

I am doing a solar system unit now in 3rd grade.
I am actually trying to do a lesson plan for the phases of the moon right now.
An activity I found was taking a white ball or ballon, and coloring half of it black (sit it on something so it does not roll). Have the kids sit in a circle around the ball and talk about what night and day is, review revolution and rotation (if you have covered it already) and after your mini discussion, have them draw what they see looking at the ball on black construction paper with white chalk. The students will put them up on the board in the order they are sitting in the circle and they will see the phases of the moon!
This is just one of many great activities I have found (my cooperating teacher says this really works) and if I have time, I will post a couple more after I am done lesson planning!

the moon
Posted by: Jo

I always buy small styrofoam balls ( size that will fit on the end of a pencil. Then we color half black with a marker. As they hold the ball in front of them they can see the moon phases.
We also make huge cutouts of the phases and keep them on the wall. Then post the dates that we see that particular phase each month.
We also made flip books that show the changes as you flip them. These are all basic ideas that probably everyone uses.

Moon Pies
Posted by: Dawn

Hey! I have already taught this unit this year and the ideas that I had to offer have already been mentioned. We did the above activity of "eating the phases" and did it with Moon Pies. The kids loved it. Then we had them look at the moon each night and we would record what it looked like on the calendar each day. Over a period of time, they began to notice the changes and the patterns. Good Luck!

phases of the moon
Posted by: johnsju

I do something similar to what knamom mentioned. I get a large ball (one of those cheap colorful ones from the drugstore) and tape a black trashbag to half of it. I number 28 pieces of black construction paper and draw chalk circles on them. I seat the kids in a circle around the ball, and they each use chalk to draw whatever portion of the ball they can see. The finished product almost looks like a flip book...makes a great bulletin board!

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Simple, Maybe Not
Posted by: CatBells

Set up a lamp and darken the room. Give a student a styrofoam ball on a pencil to represent the moon. The student "rotates" around the sun (the lamp) stopping at eight points to take note of the "shape" of the moon. This works pretty well if the room is really dark.

I have also seen the phases modeled by having the kids scrape the icing off of Oreos to represent each phase. That one's cute, but I try not to do to much eating in Science.

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ScottForesman Science
Posted by: Lodi 3rd

Has a great science "experiment" for this. Using a shoe box, golf ball, string, tack and flashlight. The string is thumbtacked to the golf ball and hung form the center interior lid of the shoebox. TApe the lid down. Cut a hole for the flashlight at one end. Cut 3 eye holes on the remaining sides of the shoe box. then peer through and record your observations of the phases of the moon.:cool:

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Bill Nye
Posted by: camillew

The Science Guy has a great video on the phases. Honestly, it didn't click for me until I saw it, even though I thought I had a good grasp on it to begin with. He likens it to a baseball field - Earth is always the pitcher, the sun is always the catcher, and the moon is running the bases. 1st base = first quarter, etc.

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Posted by: mombktt

I use a blank calendar where the students draw what the moon looks like each night. When they turn it in we compare and find the patterns.
I also have a book by Gail Gibbons about the moon and it covers it beautifully!
Somewhere I found a "Moon Phase" wheel that you cut out a peek through window and turn it w/ a brad. You might be able to create your own??
I have done the Oreo as a wrap up of the unit. I gave each child one and they slide the lid to show it waxing and waning (sp?). They really liked that lesson too!

liketeaching1 - I love your lesson! LOL! Any new teacher should take warning! LOL

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No title
Posted by: kaijai3

That does look great! I have small pics of each phase of the moon. I give students a copy, they then cut them out and write the phase number on the back and keep them in an envelope in their desk. They take them out when they may have three or four min, to spare and put them in order.

When I saw the standardized test, the students have four choices and they had to decide which one was in the correct order. Seeing the way the phases take place is great. I might buy this!

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We observe the moon....
Posted by: ScienceGeek

I don't know if I would call it a journal, but my students are required to observe the moon for a set period of time. They record what they observe each night on a worksheet which I provide. Most of the students continue to observe the moon even after the assignment is over because they find it interesting.

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Moon activity
Posted by: Mrs. T.

Another fun activity to go along with the phases of the moon....the students use vanilla wafers as the moon, and they dip them in chocolate to model the phases of the moon. (they dip 1/2, 3/4 , etc.).

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phases of the moon
Posted by: beachmom

I gave my students black paper (strip) and we ate our way through the phases using a vanilla wafer cookie. We glued the parts we did not eat. A new moon we traced using a template and ate the whole cookie. It was great. I gave out extra cookies to enjoy! LOL

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Posted by: RTH

The stories by Frank Asch would be good literature tie ins for K - 2. Some of the titles are Mooncake, Moonbear, and Moon Dance. Also, Regards to Man in the Moon by Ezra Jack Keats and Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle. Frank Brantley ( spelling may be incorrect) has several early science book about the moon. I think one is called Why Does the Moon Seem To Change?