Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Many Phases of the Moon

Elizabeth Elliott
Colleges and Universities - Florida


This lesson expands students' knowledge of the phases of the moon. Using a daily newspaper from the Internet, students develop an understanding of the phases of the moon in relation to the calendar days. ESOL strategies are incorporated to assist with reading and include cooperative learning activities.


The student knows the relative positions of the Moon, Earth, and Sun during each of the phases of the Moon.


-Book: [The Moon Seems to Change]by Franklyn M. Branley.
-Butcher paper
-Markers, crayons, water colors
-Science journals
-Computers with Internet access to all Websites listed in Weblinks


1. Bookmark the computers with the listed Websites.
2. Set up butcher paper, watercolors, markers, crayons, etc.
3. Have children's literature and copies of the attached activity sheet available.


Gain familiarity with the content of the lesson prior to teaching.

Set up computers by bookmarking the Miami Herald Website and the additional moon Websites.

1. To develop an understanding of the phases of the moon and as a preteaching exercise, read the book [The Moon Seems to Change]. Using a KWL chart, determine what the students know and want to learn at the beginning of the lesson.

2. Students begin to develop a visual representation.

3. Use the basketball to represent the moon, and the flashlight to represent the sun, and demonstrate the phases of the moon.

4. Shine the flashlight around the basketball to show how the shadows make parts of the basketball darker and similiar to the phases of the moon. Show students where the earth is and how the moon revolves around it as it revolves around the sun.

5. Students journal their ideas about the phases of the moon after the reading of the book and the demonstration.

6. Conduct a whole class discussion of moon facts.


1. Use the guiding questions below to assess students' knowledge of the phases of the moon:

1) What causes the moon to look different each day?
2) Why is the moon light/white in some places but black/non-visible in others?
3) Does the moon orbit the sun or does the sun orbit the moon? What about the earth?
4) Where does the moon have to be in order for it to be full?


1. Assess students' prior knowledge by dividing the students into four groups (one for each week of the month).

2. Using the Websites (see Weblinks) and other resource materials, have the students explore and answer the questions on the activity sheet (see associated file).


1. To complete the research questions, have students write the answers on the activity sheet.

2. Instruct each group to develop, from their research on the Websites, a pictorial view of that phase of the moon.

3. Designate time for students to present projects to the class.


1. Groups present the representation of the phases of the moon.

2. Next in whole group discussion, have the class share and compare facts about the phases of the moon.

3. Then instruct students as a class to create from the collective parts, a whole representative model of the moon and its phases.

4. Tell students they may return to ideas presented in journals for clarification and checking for understanding of the concept.


Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly. Observe students as they work, making sure they remain on task while on the computer collecting information for the activity sheet. Check for understanding of the positions of the moon, Earth, and sun during the moon's phases in their science journals. For the cooperative activity, assess the students' work products and presentation of information for accuracy.


1. Continue study of the moon in conjuction with seasons and weather.
2. Allow students to explore other Internet sites at home and in school.
3. For homework, have the children write a story based on the moon during that week of study.
4. Compare current month to student's birth month (information can be found at
5. After teaching the basic lesson, have the students work in groups to create their own representations of the phases of the moon and have them explain and display them to the class.
6. Have students illustrate their journal entries to further determine their understanding of the content.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Many Phases of the Moon
The Phases of the Moon

Web supplement for The Many Phases of the Moon
Miami Herald Online Paper

Web supplement for The Many Phases of the Moon
The moon phases by birthdays

Attached Files

The associated file is the activity sheet.     File Extension: pdf

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