Kimberly Baker - Marquette East 

Moon Phases

Kimberly Baker Marquette East
6201 S. Fairfield
(773) 535-9500


A moon phase chart is an easy way to illustrate the waxing and waning of
the moon. Students can discover why the moon isn't visible. They also come to
understand why varying locations warrant different phases.
This lesson is designed for second grade, but may be used for upper
grades as well.

Materials Needed:

One large poster board
One medium - large size ball
An overhead projector
30 paper circles about 8cm in diameter, made from black construction
A calendar with dates of the new moon, 1st quarter, full moon and the
4th quarter
White chalk


1. Make a chart to show the phases of the moon.
2. Use black circles (8cm in diameter) to show the thirty phases
of the moon.
3. Use white chalk to show the white portions of the moon phases.
For example:
4. Paste or tape the various moon phases in order on the large poster
5. Number and label each card, under each moon phase, in the following
order: 1 - New moon; 2 - New Crescent; 3 - Crescent; 4 - Crescent;
5 - Crescent; 6 - Crescent; 7 - Crescent; 8 - First Quarter; 9 -
Gibbous; 10 - Gibbous; 11 - Gibbous; 12 - Gibbous; 13 - Gibbous;
14 - Gibbous; 15 - Full Moon; 16 - Gibbous; 17 - Gibbous; 18 -
Gibbous; 19 - Gibbous; 20 - Gibbous; 21 - Gibbous; 22 - Gibbous;
23 - Last Quarter; 24 - Crescent; 25 - Crescent; 26 - Crescent;
27 - Crescent; 28 - Crescent; 29 - Crescent; 30 - Old Crescent.

Performance Assessment:

1. Have students circle the projector and ball. As the students
circle, the ball's crescent grows from First Quarter to First
Gibbous, it becomes obvious to them that the Moon's change is
gradual rather than a jump from one phase to the next as pictured
on some calendars.

(Of course, since each child is in a slightly different
location with respect to the ball (Moon) at any given
moment, each is seeing a different phase.)

2. Students may also be assessed while having fun with musical moon
positions. Chairs are optional. Music should be used. While
students slowly circle the moon (ball in front of overhead
projector), call stop, then ask students to identify the
phase they see.

(This demonstration actually shows the phase changes of an
inferior planet rather than the Moon; it is not intended to
be accurate, only to show phases.)

3. To be sure that students have grasped the pattern of moon
phases, refer to a calendar for the current moon phase and have
each student, on a blank calendar, draw moon phases accordingly.
Students can check their accuracy each night by watching the moon.

(Again, warn students that, because each child is in a slightly
different location with respect to the Moon, each is
seeing a slightly different phase.)

4. Have students chart the phases from their calendars on the board.
Start with the more significant phases first, ie New Moon, 1st
qtr., Full Moon, etc... Next, fill in all of the other phases.
Be sure to inform students on whether white shading will
represent the lightness or darkness of the moon in its phase!


A moon phase chart is an easy way to illustrate the waxing and waning
of the moon. Children who follow a phase on the moon chart each morning will
not grow up thinking that the moon has only four phases and will be in a
better position to understand other gradational processes in nature.


Science and Children. May 1982, Vol. 19, No. 8

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