Moon Phase Activity / Lesson For School Teachers

Here is one moon phase activity school teachers can do with younger students. In science classes the moon is a favorite topic because observing the moon can be a fun learning experience for students.

Instructional Objective: Students will understand the different phases of the moon and/or study the moon's surface

Time: 29 nights to view a complete moon cycle, or just one or two observing sessions for younger kids to examine and appreciate the moon

For this activity, children will need a notebook, a drawing pencil, and a clear night sky to see the moon. A pair of binoculars or a telescope will be fun to look through, to better see the moon's surface, but it is not required. If you choose to do this moon phases lesson on only one night, it will help to know ahead of time when the moon will be visible and in a good viewing phase. You can find this information in various places online, including using our moon calendar for the phases only. Many everyday calendars include the main four quarters of the moon. However, a more convenient and complete method, especially for multiple activities, is to use our moon software. The software will tell you when the moon is visible, the phase, and allows you to print a moon calendar.

The best time to view the actual surface of the moon is of course during a full moon. All the craters and patterns are viewable. The crescent and quarter moon phases are also a good time to view the surface because the craters and mountains cast shadows, adding definition.

Simple Instructions for Students: To complete the activity, record the date, write a brief description of how much of the moon you see and draw a picture of it. Take your pencil and draw in the dark areas and light areas. To see more detail, you can use binoculars, or a telescope with the help of your parents.

Learning the Moon Phases: Each day as students draw in the differing amounts of the moon that they can see, they start to develop a series of drawings showing all the different phases of the moon. At the end of a 29 day cycle, when they all bring their charts and notebooks back to class, the teacher can generate a discussion of why this moon phase activity occurs (also see moon phases lesson plan). This can lead into learning the different names for each phase, such as waxing moon and crescent moon. The students can compare their drawings with a moon calendar for that month and determine whether they were correct. This in turn can lead into predictions of when the various moon phases will occur during the following month.