Here is a clip of the moon phases obtained from

external image Moon_movie.gif

Science Content and background knowledge

  • Students need to know the relation of the moon to the Earth.
  • Students need to know that the moon orbits the Earth.
  • Students need to know that it takes about 28 days for the moon to orbit the Earth fully.
  • Students need to know that the moon spins counterclockwise with the Earth.
  • Students need to know that the sun lights the moon up.

external image moonbar.gif

Activities / Lesson Plans that are related to the phases of the moon:

NCSCOS 3rd grade science

Competency Goal 3: The learner will make observations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the earth/moon/sun system.
3.02 Observe that objects in the sky have patterns of movement including:
  • the moon
3.04 Use appropriate tools to make observations of the moon.
3.05 Observe and record the change in the apparent shape of the moon from day to day over several months and describe the pattern of changes.

Here are some lesson plans and activities that we found that teach about the phases of the moon.
  • Have students create their own moon journal by observing the moon for two weeks to observe multiple phases from the new moon to the full moon. Have students note any questions that they have about the moon in their journals. Have students write down their observations and any comments about the moon that they see. Have students decorate the cover of their journal in relation to things that deal with the moon.
  • Show the moon's phases by using:
    • Light bulb on a stand or clamp (or lamp with its shade removed)
    • Extension cord
    • Styrofoam balls or light-colored spheres
    • Pencils

Distribute one Styrofoam ball for the model Moon to each student. Have students stick a pencil into the ball to make it easier to hold as well as observe the phases of the model Moon. Ask students to hold the model Moon at arm's length. Allow time for them to explore how the model Sun's light reflects off the model Moon as they place it in different positions around their heads.
Have students model the other moon phases: the full Moon, the third quarter Moon, and the new Moon. As students learn where to hold the Styrofoam ball for each phase of the Moon, challenge them to determine the direction that the Moon travels around Earth to create the phases in the correct order. (This can be demonstrated by moving the ball from right to left around the head.)

Here is an example of this activity that we did in GS 4401.

HPIM1905.jpg HPIM1906.jpg

HPIM1907.jpg HPIM1908.jpg

  • This activity shows students how much that they would weigh if they were on the moon
  • Write your weight (or an estimate)
  • Multiply your weight in pounds by 1/6
  • TADA you weigh
  • Here is an example for you to look at
Example for the Moon - for a person weighing 60 pounds on Earth:

60 x 1/6 = 10

A 60 pound person would weight 10 pounds on the Moon!

Phases of the Moon

Grade Level:
Duration: 25-30 minutes
Description: After listening to Goodnight Moon , students use construction paper and coat hangers to construct lunar calendars. This lesson could serve as a starting point for a unit on space or space exploration.
Goal: Students will learn about different phases of the moon.

  1. Students will be able to identify four phases of the moon (new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter).
  2. Using hangers and construction paper, students will be able to construct a lunar calendar for the current month.
  • a copy of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon (preferably a big book)
  • computer(s) with Internet access
  • coat hangers (one for each student)
  • white or yellow construction paper
  • pre-made calendars
  • scissors
  • lined paper
  • string or yarn
  • glue or paste
  • hole punch
  • pencils

Lesson Introduction:
Read Goodnight Moon to the class. Ask students, "What did you notice about the moon on each page?" Prompt students if necessary to get them to respond that the moon is full in each picture, except the pictures featuring the cow jumping over the moon. "What do you think the word lunar means? What is a calendar ? What do you think a lunar calendar is?"

Lesson Focus:
Divide students into small groups (depending on the number of computers available). Students will access web sites provided by the teacher (see Internet Resources below). Students will research the names of each phase of the moon along with what the phases look like and what a lunar calendar looks like. Monitor students' progress, and answer questions as they are asked. After students have finished their research, have them sit in a circle to share what they discovered.

Inform students that they will be constructing a lunar calendar for the current month. Each student will receive a hanger and construction paper. Students will take a piece of construction paper and cut it in the shape of a rectangle to make the calendar. (The teacher can have pre-made calendars ready that can be glued onto the rectangular piece of construction paper.) On the calendar, students label the days that each phase falls on for the current month. The completed calendar can be tied to the center of the coat hanger with string or yarn. Students can also draw the phases of the moon on smaller pieces of construction paper and cut them out. The phases can be tied to each side of the lunar calendar on the coat hanger.
Students will have the opportunity to review what they learned. If students have science journals, they can write about what they learned and their feelings about the topic or activity.

Assessment: Students will be evaluated on their class participation during discussion opportunities. Review students' lunar calendars to check for accuracy. As an extension, students can develop additional lunar calendars for the rest of the year.

external image moonbar.gif

Phases of the Moon

Each month our Moon passes through eight phases. These phases are named after how much of the moon we can see, and whether the amount visible is increasing, or decreasing each day.

It takes the our Moon about 29.5 days to completely cycle through all eight phases. Occasionally (about every 2.7 years) there are two Full Moons in the same month. This is referred to as a Blue Moon. Hence the saying "Once in a Blue Moon".

New Moon external image Moon_new.gif
The side of the moon facing the Earth is not illuminated. Additionally, the moon is up through out the day, and down through out the night. For these reasons we can not see the moon during this phase.

Waxing Crescent external image Moon_waxcres.gif
During this phase, part of the Moon is beginning to show. This lunar sliver can be seen each evening for a few minutes just after sunset. We say that the Moon is "waxing" because each night a little bit more is visible for a little bit longer.

First Quarter external image Moon_firstqtr.gif
During first quarter, 1/2 of the moon is visible for the first half of the evening, and then goes down, leaving the sky very dark.

Waxing Gibbous external image Moon_waxgib.gif
When most of the Moon is visible we say it is a Gibbous Moon. Observers can see all but a little sliver of the moon. During this phase, the Moon remains in the sky most of the night.

Full Moon external image Moon_full.gif
When we can observe the entire face of the moon, we call it a Full Moon. A full moon will rise just as the evening begins, and will set about the time morning is ushered in.

Waning Gibbous external image Moon_wangib.gif
Like the Waxing Gibbous Moon, during this phase, we can see all but a sliver of the Moon. The difference is that instead of seeing more of the Moon each night, we begin to see less and less of the Moon each night. This is what the word "waning" means.

Last Quarter {3rd Quarter} external image Moon_lastqtr.gif
During a Last Quarter {3rd quarter} Moon we can see exactly 1/2 of the Moon's lighted surface.

Waning Crescent external image Moon_wancres.gif
Finally, during a Waning Crescent Moon, observers on Earth can only see a small sliver of the Moon, and only just before morning. Each night less of the Moon is visible for less time.

external image moonbar.gif

Questions that we still have about this topic:

  • What makes craters form on the moon?
  • Since the moon is made of rock, why can you see footprints?
  • What is a moonquake?
  • How do you measure a "moonquake"?
  • How long does it take for astronauts to get to the moon?
  • What keeps the moon in orbit?
  • How old is the moon?
  • Why is the earth the only planet with one moon?
  • How far away is the moon?
  • How many people have landed on the moon?
  • Why is the moon in different places?

external image moonbar.gif

Myths, Legends, and "Moontastic" Facts

  • Old wives tale: If you trim your hair during a full moon then it will grow faster.

  • Myths: obtained from
    - A full Moon on Christmas day brings bad luck.
    - Two full moons in the same month will cause severe weather in the following month. It's also called a blue moon!
    - It is unlucky to look at the new Moon through a window for the first time.
    - Chickens lay more eggs under a Moon in its last quarter.
    - A full Moon during harvest means a good crop.
    - A new Moon brings good fortune.
    - Blowing nine times on a wart while the Moon is full will make the wart go away.
    - A wish while looking up at a new Moon is thought to come true within the year.
    - It is best to cut your hair when the Moon is waxing; it grows strong and healthy.
    - It is unlucky for a child to be born when the Moon is waning.
    - A ring around the Moon is a warning of rain or snow to come..
    - Bowing to a new Moon and turning over silver coins will result in doubling your money by the end of the next cycle.
    - There is no gravity on the moon.

  • Moon phrases: obtained from
    - To shoot for the moon: To be very ambitious.
    - Over the moon: Delighted about something - maybe shooting for the Moon proved successful!
    - Crying for the moon: Longing for what is beyond reach, The French have a similar expression,
    Il veut prendre la lune avec les dents, meaning he wants to take the Moon between his teeth,
    from the old story about the Moon being made of green cheese.
    -It's all Moonshine: It's nonsense, imagination, caused by the effects of the Moon on the mind.
    - I know as much about it as the Man In The Moon: I know nothing.
    - For moonshine in the water: For nothing.
    - The Moon is made of green cheese: A term from the sixteenth century. "Green" refers not to
    the color of the moon, but to new immature cheese. Round like the shape of the moon with a mottled
    surface and color similar to that of the moon.
    - Moon about: To wander listlessly, especially if in love.
    - Once in a blue Moon: Very, very, rarely!
    - To Moon Over: To think about something or someone.
    - "To the moon, Alice!" - Famous threat used by Ralph Cramden (Jackie Gleason) to his wife Alice.
    - Minions of the Moon: Night-time thieves. Also known as 'Moon's men", and particularly
    referring to highwaymen.
    - To find an elephant in the Moon: Something that seems like a great discovery, but is not! The phrase
    came about when a seventeenth century man proclaimed with much pride that he had discovered an
    elephant on the Moon. It turned out that a mouse had crept into his telescope, and he had mistaken
    it for an elephant.
    - The man in the Moon: Said by some to be a man carrying a bundle of sticks collected on the Sabbath.
    - Some say he also has a dog with him. Another version is that the man is actually Cain, with his dog and
    thorn-bush. The thorns symbolize the fall, and the dog represents the foul, animal side'of man. He has also
    been said to be Endymion, taken to the Moon by Diana. Also meaning to see human face-like features
    on the moons surface.
    - Diana's Worshipers: A name given to midnight revelers. They come home by moonlight, and so
    put themselves under her protection.
    - Casting beyond the Moon: To make wild speculations.

Jan. 3, 8:57 a.m. EST – The Full Wolf Moon. Amid the zero cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the “Moon After Yule.” In some tribes this was the Full Snow Moon; most applied that name to the next Moon.

Feb. 2, 12:45 a.m. EST – The Full Snow Moon. Usually the heaviest snows fall in this month. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some tribes this was the Full Hunger Moon.

March 3, 6:17 p.m. EST – The Full Worm Moon. In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. A total lunar eclipse will take place on this night; the Moon will appear to rise will totally immersed (or nearly so) in the Earth’s shadow over the eastern United States. The rising Moon will be emerging from the shadow over the central United States, while over the Western U.S. the eclipse will be all but over by the time the Moon rises.

April 2, 1:15 p.m. EDT – The Full Pink Moon. The grass pink or wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and -- among coastal tribes -- the Full Fish Moon, when the shad came upstream to spawn. This is also the Paschal Full Moon; the first full Moon of the spring season. The first Sunday following the Paschal Moon is Easter Sunday, which indeed will be observed six days later on Sunday, April 8.

May 2, 6:09 a.m. EDT – The Full Flower Moon. Flowers are abundant everywhere. It was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.

May 31, 9:04 p.m. EDT – The Blue Moon. The second full Moon occurring within a calendar month is usually bestowed this title.

Although the name suggests that to have two Full Moons in a single month is a rather rare occurrence (happening “just once in a . . . “), it actually occurs once about every three years on average.

June 30, 9:49 a.m. EDT – The Full Strawberry Moon. Known to every Algonquin tribe. Europeans called it the Rose Moon.

July 29, 8:48 p.m. EDT – The Full Buck Moon, when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes also called the Full Hay Moon.

Aug. 28, 6:35 a.m. EDT – The Full Sturgeon Moon, when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because the moon rises looking reddish through sultry haze, or the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon. A total lunar eclipse will coincide with moonset for the eastern United States. The Central and Mountain Time Zones will see the Moon’s emergence coincide with moonset, while the western United States will see the entire eclipse.

Sept. 26, 3:45 p.m. EDT – The Full Harvest Moon. Always the full Moon occurring nearest to the Autumnal Equinox. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice— the chief Indian staples—are now ready for gathering.

Oct. 26, 12:52 a.m. EDT – The Full Hunter’s Moon. With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, also other animals that have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest. The Moon will also be at perigee later this day, at 7:00 a.m., at a distance of 221,676 miles from Earth. Very high tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with full Moon.

Nov. 24, 9:30 a.m. EST – The Full Beaver Moon. Time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. Also called the Frosty Moon.

Dec. 23, 2:51 a.m. EST – The Full Cold Moon; among some tribes, the Full Long Nights Moon. In this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are at their longest and darkest. Also sometimes called the “Moon before Yule” (Yule is Christmas, and this time the Moon is only just before it). The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long and the Moon is above the horizon a long time. The midwinter full Moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low Sun.

external image moonbar.gif

Children's literature that relates to moon phases

Books obtained from

  • Full Moon Rising by Joanne Taylor; illustrated by Susan Tooke

  • Home on the Moon: Living on a Space Frontier by Marianne J. Dyson
Considers the moon as a frontier that has been only partially explored, looking at its history, geography, and weather, as well as what people would require to live and work there.

  • If you decide to go to the Moon by Faith McNulty; illustrated by Steven Kellogg

  • I'll Catch the Moon by Nina Crews
A child imagines going into outer space, catching the moon, and taking it on an around-the-world adventure.

  • Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
When Kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, she ends up tired, wet, and hungry trying to reach it

  • Long Night Moon by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Mark Siegel
Text and illustrations depict the varied seasonal full moons that change and assume personalities of their own throughout the year.

  • Papa, please get the moon for me by Eric Carle
Monica's father fulfills her request for the moon by taking it down after it is small enough to carry, but it continues to change in size. Some pages fold out to display particularly large picture.

  • Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin; paintings by Wendell Minor

  • Sometimes Moon by Carole Lexa Schaefer; illustrated by Pierr Morgan
A girl describes how sometimes she sees the changing moon as thin and silver like Grandpapa's dory boat, sometimes as a half circle like Mama's knitting basket, and sometimes round and chubby like the baby's cheeks.

  • The Moon by Seymour Simon

  • The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
Identifies the moon as our only natural satellite, describes its movement and phases, and discusses how we have observed and explored it over the years.

  • Why does the moon change shape? by Isaac Asimov
Explains why the moon changes from crescent to full moon every twenty-nine and one-half days.

  • What the Moon is like by Franklyn M. Branley; illustrated by True Kelley

external image moonbar.gif

Other helpful websites

external image moonbar.gif
· On Saturday March 3rd, 2007 there will be a lunar ecclipse that will be viewable from Eastern North America between
5:44pm-6:58pm. Look at this website for more details.

Photos of the lunar ecclipse on March 3rd, 2007. Photos and text from

external image 070209_lunareclipse_hmed4p.rp350x350.jpgThe moon shadowed by the Earth is seen during a eclipse on late 03 March 2007 in Lausanne. Total lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are all in alignment and the Moon travels into the broad cone of shadow cast by the Earth. The Moon does not become invisible, though, because there is still residual sunlight that is deflected towards it by the Earth's atmosphere, most of which is light in the red part of the spectrum.

external image dv_to_getty_1112278_0.rp350x350.jpgA combination photo shows three faces of a lunar eclipse late over Athens 03 March 2007. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon in orbit around the Earth passes through the earth's shadow, which can be seen cast on to the moon.

external image 73468620bv005_astronomers_v.rp350x350.jpgLONDON - MARCH 03: The earths shadow begns to engulf the moon during the total lunar eclipse on March 3, 2007 in London, England. For a little over an hour the earth passed between the sun and moon, casting a hue of red over it as the suns light is forced through the atmosphere.

external image ajm10303040153.rp350x350.jpgThe moon is seen over one of the statues that top the colomnade of St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on the night of a total lunar eclipse, early Sunday morning, March 4, 2007. The first total lunar eclipse in three years will give nearly every continent at least a partial view when the moon turns a shade of crimson as light reaching it from the sun is blotted out by the Earth. The event is rare because the moon is usually above or below the plane of Earth's orbit. Sunlight still reaches the moon during total eclipses, but is refracted through Earth's atmosphere, bathing the moon in an eerie reddish light.

external image sofi_composite_2_crop.jpg A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun; therefore, totally or partially obscuring Earth's view of the Sun. A total eclipse occurs when the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon. The intense brightness of the Sun is replaced by the dark outline of the Moon. Solar eclipse used to be considered mythological and rather frightening. During a solar eclipse the sun can completely disappear in the middle of the day and create complete darkness.
Diagram of lunar eclipse

Illustration NASA

Past, Present, and Future Eclipses
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: 2006 Mar 14
Total Lunar Eclipse: 2007 Mar 03
Annular Solar Eclipse: 2008 February 07
Total Solar Eclipse: 2006 Mar 29
Partial Solar Eclipse: 2007 Mar 19
Total Lunar Eclipse: 2008 Feb 21
Partial Lunar Eclipse: 2006 Sep 07
Total Lunar Eclipse: 2007 Aug 28
Total Solar Eclipse: 2008 August 01
Annular Solar Eclipse: 2006 Sep 22
Partial Solar Eclipse: 2007 Sep 11
Partial Lunar Eclipse: 2008 August 16
Transit of Mercury: 2006 Nov 08

For a complete list of past present and future eclipse please visit this website: