Are you looking for teaching ideas to incorporate into your phases of the moon unit? Here are 5 ideas to use with your students to help them understand the sun, earth, and moon model during lunar phases.
Having students make models of the lunar phases while including the sun and earth is a fun way to become acquainted with the phases of the moon.
There are different ways to accomplish this, one of the popular ways is through using Oreos, however between allergies, the potential for germs, and the attraction of insects, I chose a different method this year.
Instead, try round cosmetic pads! Students can either cut the pad, or use a black marker to show the different moon phases then place them on a black piece of construction paper, and draw the sun and earth.
- Round cosmetic pads
- Black construction paper
- Colored pencils / crayons
Charting Moon Phases
While teaching a lunar phases unit, I like to chart the moon phases. My chart includes:
- Sunrise Time
- Sunset Time
- Moon Phase
In addition to seeing the moon change throughout the month, including the sunrise and sunset times makes connections to the rotation and revolution of Earth, which is a later unit. This moon chart allows students to see how we gain or lose sunlight, depending on your charting time.
Use graphic organizers as a way to summarize the unit. Students can work on this independently using the notes they completed in class.
Allison, a 4th-grade teacher, tried this strategy and said, “These notes were so great for my 4th graders. I printed this so that it would fit in their science notebooks, and we filled it in together. I loved that it combined information from many different worksheets into one easy to find page.”
Moving Moon Phases
Another way to make the moon phases stick is by having the students act out the phases. To do this, you’ll need:
- A pencil
- White styrofoam ball (5 cm or bigger)
Then group students and have them complete the following:
- Place the lamp in the middle of the room.
- Have students poke a hole into their sphere with their pencil and hold the pencil, with the sphere attached, in one hand. They should be holding what looks like a spherical lollipop.
- Explain to students that the bulb is the sun, each sphere is the moon, and each student is Earth.
- Rotate around the room for each of the lunar phases. Remind students what they are doing in 30 minutes takes the moon about 30 days to complete one full circle around Earth.
Birthday Moon Project
Bring student interest into your moon phases unit by having students complete a birthday moon project.
To do this, students will research which moon phase they were born under. They will also research 3 interesting events that happened on their birthday.
The final project will include:
- Birthday Moon Phase
- Explanation of the lunar phase
- Sun, earth, moon model
- Three interesting events that happened on their birthday
Students enjoy this project because it personalizes the moon and allows students to see that they are all born under different moon phases despite being close in age. This will further explain how the moon orbits the earth every 29.5 days.