Phases of the Moonby: Geoff Holt and Nancy W. West

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Every 29.5 days, the Moon’s shape appears to change in a predictable cycle. We call the shapes phases of the Moon. This activity will show how the Moon’s orbit causes the Moon’s phases. Students use Ping-Pong or Styrofoam balls to model the way the Sun illuminates the Moon as the Moon orbits Earth. Then they model the orbit of the Moon around Earth using a painted ball to understand why the Moon shows phases.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:25 AM

This is an awesome resource that gives you specific activities to teach about the phases of the moon. It also address the misconceptions that students may face about the moon and its phases. Not only are the activities hands on, but they create opportunities for the students to better understand the concepts. Additionally, I think the chapter is very resourceful because it gives you options for differentiated learning as well as how you can incorporate different subjects and make the lesson interdisciplinary.

Molly Hart
Molly Hart

  • on Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:16 PM

What a great resource! Understanding the phases of the moon is always a struggle for my kiddos, and the activities in this book will be so helpful! In particular, I like the partner activity where one student walks around "the moon" and draws the phases as he sees them. Brilliant!

Amy O'Neill
Amy O'Neill

  • on Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:00 PM

If one is looking for a comprehensive lesson on how to teach about the moon phases, how to access student preconceptions and misconceptions, and how to help students create accurate knowledge about this important topic, look no further than this book chapter. There is plenty of background information for the teacher and great hands-on activities for the students. The materials are simply one bright lamp and extension cord, one Ping-Pong ball per student, safety goggles, a 15-cm Styrofoam ball, black paint for the Styrofoam, a bit of cardboard and a pencil. I highly recommend this lesson plan if you are contemplating teaching about the moon’s phases.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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