Hello, I am creating a lesson plan for my science class. I would like to know if anyone knew tip or activities to engage the students on the moon phases. I would like the activity to be done in class. 

Thank you,

Tiffany Yang

Tiffany Yang
Tiffany Yang
2395 Activity Points

Hello Tiffany,


I taught a lesson to 5th graders a while ago about the moon phases. The purpose of the lesson was to have them realize that the moon looks different at different times during the month. To do this, I had a small styrofoam ball attached to the end of a pencil. The students would them stand in a circle around a light bulb and hold their "moon" out in front of them. They would then turn a quarter turn and observe that the shadow of the moon changed. At each turn, they would record where they saw the shadow. This helped them recognize that the moon is not changing shape, but the shadow of the moon was changing based on where it was in relation to the sun. We did more with this activity by having students predict what phase the moon would be on a certain day after they knew how long it took for the moon to go through a full cycles of phases. The students enjoyed the activity and they saw the connection between what they saw in the experiment and what they see when they look at the moon at night.


There are lots of fun and engaging science activities in the resources section on the NSTA website.

Daniel Price
Daniel Price
2260 Activity Points

The Learning Center has a lot of great resources on this topic! 

1. Access the Learning Center here. 

2. Type in your key search terms like "moon phases". Click search. 

3. When the results appear, narrow them to your parameters. I would suggest selecting "Lesson Plans and Activities" and your appropriate grade level. Then you can peruse the options.


Here are a few at the elementary level I found you may be interested in:

Here is one at the middle school level:

Emily Faulconer
Emily Faulconer
4630 Activity Points

Hi Tiffany!  I may have some suggestions, but it would be helpful to know what you want students to learn about the phases of the moon (the learning goals) and what grade level you are teaching. Looking forward to hearing from you! -- Mary B. 

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
10070 Activity Points

Hi Tiffany!

I agree with a previous comment- the Learning Center has awesome articles and lessons posted that might help you.

Check out these articles (free as a NSTA member): 

1) There is a fun experiment/investigation you can do in this article... https://s3.amazonaws.com/nstacontent/sc0809_30.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1558545279&Signature=vrmV7nF8dhujVeLokHhbsldUPgY%3d

2) You could have your students arrange balls to show/model the positions of Earth and our moon during a full moon...? https://s3.amazonaws.com/nstacontent/ss0211_48.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1558545603&Signature=lIdPBqLLp0e7rf58PWp12TeAS3o%3d

3) This article utilizes tradebooks for teaching about the moon/moon phases! It has great ideas for grades K-3 and adaptations for grades 4-6! https://s3.amazonaws.com/nstacontent/sc0809_20.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIMRSQAV7P6X4QIKQ&Expires=1558545686&Signature=my%2bnblrV6a5B15DMtlPII43%2buP8%3d

Another idea I had for you right off the bat was having your students work on a (month-long) moon journal and make observations about the phases of the moon. You can have your students do this as an at-home assignment - where they go outside and draw what they see each night, OR since you said you'd like to focus more on this topic in-class, you can look up the moon from the previous night and have your students make their observations in-class. 

Additionally, you could have your students create a foldable with key terms (waxing, waning, etc.) or the different phases of the moon.

Good luck, and happy teaching!

-Lauren Walls

Lauren Walls
Lauren Walls
1405 Activity Points

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers