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Earth and Space Science

Moon phases

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Katie Majano Katie Majano 3390 Points

For my class, methods of teaching science in elementary school, I had to do a lesson plan on the phases of the moon. I am not going to lie I was pretty interested while I was working on the lesson. I believe that not a lot is taught about phases of the moon. When I asked my peers if they can name some of the phases of the moon the most I got was just 2 or 3 names and that was it. The moon is cool and fun to talk about it, I just wish students were taught more about it. 

Moon Phases Collection (11 items)
Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92364 Points

One of the issues in elementary school is that there is more of a focus on reading and math, and rightly so. The fallout of that is, most teachers receive little to no professional development in science methods. When teachers do teach science, they rely heavily on textbooks, and cutesy fun things that do little to impact learning for students. Even teachers who don't do the cutesy things will cover the content once and not refer back to it after it is taught initially. I have students go out every night for about 31 days to draw what the moon looks like in the evening. If they forget or it's too cloudy to see the moon, I cut out the moon phases section in the local newspaper and we look it up online. I also introduce the Old Farmer's Almanac to them where it shows the optimum time to plant new crops and we discuss how many farmers would use this guide to plant their crops. I live in the south and there are farmlands around where we grow soybeans, sugar cane, rice, and in some areas cotton. I totally agree with your thinking, Katie. Thanks for sharing the links.

Laura Cruz Laura Cruz 1320 Points

I completely agree with you. I also completed a lesson on the phases of the moon with my fifth grade class, in which I am currently student teaching in. I myself, had to review the phases and found a interesting way to show my students the different phases using different models throughout the class. They really did enjoy it, but I agree they should be taught more about it.

Michelle Nguyen Michelle Nguyen 1435 Points

Hi there! I enjoyed reading your post and couldn't agree more with what you had said in your post! I had learned about the Phases of the Moon recently in my education class also and found it fascinating on how the Moon words. As you had stated, when my Professor asked the class if we can name some of the phases of the moon and pretty sure we all had the same answers of being able to only name just 2 or 3. I definitely agree with what you said about how students should be taught more about the moon. Since you had to do a lesson plan on the Phases of the Moon, I was wondering how did it turn out? I am sure the students are eagerly to learn since the Moon is something we can see from a distance in our daily night skies.

Krystal Brea Krystal Brea 4080 Points

I love learning about the moon and its phases. I actually observed a fifth grade lesson in which the teacher incorporated Oreos to the lesson. The students removed the top of the Oreos and had to remove the cream with a spoon to show the different phases of the moon after learning about it. This can only be done if none of the students have allergies, luckily in her case all her students were able to eat Oreos. After completing the phases, the students shared their creations with the class and had a snack. I agree that learning about this should be more encouraged.

Daisy Hinojosa Daisy Hinojosa 1020 Points

I also had to teach a lunar phase lesson, and i was worried that i would not be able to keep the students as engaged because the concept is a bit abstract. This is a lesson that would have to be taught over a couple of days so that the material could be reinforced and they are able to understand the material. I did not do the lesson with the oreos because i just did not like it, i found the Styrofoam ball to be a bit more interactive.

Brenda Lopez Brenda Lopez 765 Points

At one of my classes, we did see moon phases to give us some ideas how to teach it. Our teacher used a styrofoam ball and a stick. We also used a flashlight and we used ourselves to turn around so the light could hit the ball. I think that it can help the students an idea on how the moon revolves and rotates around the earth.

Hello! I am also one of those people that can only name 2 or 3 phases of the moon. I think children should be taught about this topic more in depth. I wish I knew more without having to always run to google. Using a styrofoam ball was the way my teachers use to teach the phases of the moon. It shows how the moon rotates the earth! I think it is a great topic.

Edgar Juarez Edgar Juarez 4225 Points

I agree with you since I remember in elementary school, we really did not put in a lot of attention about the phases of the moon. Not a lot of people remember the names of each phase of the moon. I personally find learning about the moon and its phases fascinating. It is interested to learn how the moon can cause the Earth to have different tides during different times of a lunar day. Since we had a state assessment each year, the assessment only focused on language arts and mathematics. Only two grade levels took a state science assessment. Language arts and mathematics was put a lot of attention. One way that could possibly help students understand the phases of the moon is they can act out the different phases of the moon. It depends on how the teacher wants the students to act it out. Another way is students could observe the moon for one month and draw a picture of the moon each night. Then the teacher could have a class discussion with the students and see what they had observed.

Alexandra Ulsher Alexandra Ulsher 840 Points

I agree. The moon is very cool. I did an activity with a 6 year old I nanny and he was extremely interested in the moon, its phases and the tides in relation to it.

Tara Spitzer-List Tara Spitzer-List 60 Points

The moon is very interesting, but the phases seem to be one of the more difficult concepts for students to understand. I think because it is abstract, and very spatial. Some students can see it, and some just have a hard time visualizing.

I don't spend a lot of time on the names of the phases, but the process/concept.

I usually have the most success with Styrofoam balls where one side is blackened and one side is white, it can then be moved around to be viewed from different angles.

I have never done this whole set up, but had them move the ball around. I would love to try this set up sometime! (not my image) The moon is very interesting, but the phases seem to be one of the more difficult concepts for students to understand. I think because it is abstract, and very spatial. Some students can see it, and some just have a hard time visualizing.

I don't spend a lot of time on the names of the phases, but the process/concept.

I usually have the most success with styrofoam balls where one side is blackened and one side is white, it can then be moved around to be viewed from different angles.

I have never done this whole set up, but had them move the ball around. I would love to try this set up sometime! (not my image) http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HHqFmLL4OeQ/UU4omMEkeiI/AAAAAAAABNE/xxRV17S8aFg/s1600/blogger-image-88083963.jpg

Matt Bobrowsky Matthew Bobrowsky 6325 Points

I'd like to comment on this thread about teaching the phases of the moon. Some great ideas have been suggested, along with some not-as-great ideas. I'll say what I think is lacking with the latter suggestions, suggest one additional extension, and offer a moon observing activity. I trust that this will be all right since this is a learning community, and, reciprocally, I welcome anyone to improve on what I suggest. > I also introduce the Old Farmer's Almanac to them.... I would advise against using the Farmer's Almanac as a scientific reference. [url=http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/09/09/farmer_s_almanac_old_farmers_almanac_have_terrible_meteorological_track.html]http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/09/09/farmer_s_almanac_old_farmers_almanac_have_terrible_meteorological_track.html[/url] Next, I hope that nobody thinks that having students memorize the names of the phases of the moon (using Oreos or otherwise) constitutes "covering" the phases of the moon. Someone can learn to draw or identify each phase while having absolutely no idea (or the wrong idea) about the cause of the phases. And, it's good to directly address the popular misconception that the phases are caused by the earth's shadow on the moon. Another misconception that needs to be addressed is that there's one side of the moon that is permanently in darkness ("the dark side of the moon"). To address this misconception, I always refer to the dark side as the "nighttime side" of the moon, analogous to the nighttime side of the earth. And I explicitly explain to the students why I use the word "nighttime" to avoid perpetuating the misconception. Using the Styrofoam balls illuminated by a bright light representing the sun is a good idea. I wonder whether the painted-balls demonstration shows as clearly that the phases really do occur naturally when you have a light source shining on a sphere. Rather than you demonstrating it, let each student have their own ball on a stick (or toothpick). If they do it themselves, they don't have to abstractly visualize it; rather, they can see it directly. Their head represents the earth, and their eyes represent them standing on the earth, looking out toward the sky. As they slowly turn around (moving the moon around with them), they see the moon go through different phases. A practical tip: The phases can be hard to see if there are bright walls, which will reflect light onto the nighttime side of the moon. This activity needs to be done in a room with dark walls... or outside using the real sun! And this leads to an extension: On a sunny day when the moon is visible in the sky, take the students outside with their Styrofoam balls and have them hold them up with their hands stretched out in the direction of the moon. Each student's ball should almost, but not quite, be eclipsing the moon. It should appear right next to the moon so they can see both at once. The phase they see on their Styrofoam balls will be the same as the phase of the moon! The phases are the same for the same reason: the geometry involved is exactly the same for the ball as for the moon. And this can be repeated by holding up any spherical object (a basketball, an orange, etc.) in the direction of the moon. I also have an outdoor observing activity where students observe the moon at the same time each evening for two weeks and observe both the changing phases and the changing position of the moon in the sky. You'll find it attached, along with some additional info for teachers. This activity also gives students practice making a hypothesis -- in its proper scientific sense -- as a tentative explanation for some observed phenomenon. More on hypotheses [url=https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4H43FbXC7hcQ3pzcmpsVWJSczc2Vk4zYnl0aUZGR1hRdTlF]here[/url].

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