The Patterns of the Moon!

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SWBAT observe, record and identify predictable patterns of the Moon's phases.

Big Idea

When you look at the moon, how does the shape seem to change over time? In this lesson students will use Oreo Cookies to learn about the Phases of the Moon.

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this lesson students will explore the Phases of the Moon. 1-ESS1-1 asks students to use observations to explore the predictable patterns of our Moon.  Before starting this lesson my students have been taking home Science Bag and Moon Journal to observe and record the moon at night.  Each day the Moon Journal is shared and the findings are recorded on our classroom calendar. In this lesson students will use the information collected to describe any patterns that we have found thus far. We will also use another Moon calendar to look closer at these patterns and use that information to further our exploration of these patterns.

Home to School Connection:

We will be learning about the sun, the stars and moon. The NGSS asks that students to observe, describe and predict how the sun and moon changes over a period of time. I send home two science bags that will allow students to observe the night sky.

The Sun Bag: In order for students to observe the changes of our sunset, each day a different student takes home our Sun Bag that includes a Sunset Observations sheet, The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley, a box of crayons and a parent letter. Students record his/her findings on our class Sunset Calendar. We observe the sun for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the sunset changes.

The Moon Bag: In order for students to observe the change of the moon, each day a different student takes home our Moon Bag which includes a Moon Observation Form (black paper), The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons, white crayons and a parent letter. Then students record his/her findings on our class Moon Calendar. We observe the moon for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the changes it goes through in one full cycle. If the moon is not visible that student will record the night sky and then the next day we will predict what it would have looked like had it been seen.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.


KLEWS chart - Does the moon have predictable patterns?

Oreo Cookies

Phases of the Moon Guide - Print and glue into Science Journal

Phases of the Moon Song

Moon Flip Book:

1. Booklets (8 pages) - black construction paper

2. Yellow construction paper

3. Construction paper: various colored strips


15 minutes

In order to activate prior knowledge I introduce this lesson using our KLEWS anchor chart. In our last lesson students closely observed monthly moon calendars and on our KLEWS anchor chart, we recorded our E-Evidence, L-What we learned, and K-What we now know. 

Boys and girls, in our last lesson you learned that not only does the the moon have a predictable pattern, you learned that the moon starts off small and then gets bigger and bigger and then is shrinks again.  Another way to say that is the moon starts off bright and then gets darker and darker.  Then the moon gets brighter and brighter.  The Full Moon is the brightest moon and the New Moon is the darkest moon. 

I use this song and my Moon Phases Chart from our last lesson to build upon the idea of dark and light.

The Moon Pattern Song (If you are happy and you know it)

The Waning Moon!

When the light is on left it's getting dark (clap, clap). When the light is on the left it's getting dark (clap, clap). When the light is on the left then the moon is getting dark, when the light is on the left it's getting dark.

The Waxing Moon!

When the light is on the right it's getting bright (stomp, stomp). When the light is on the right it's getting bright (stomp, stomp). When the light is on the right, then the moon is getting bright, when the light is on the right it's getting bright! YEAH!

 Do you remember seeing the moon go from a Full moon to "no" moon?  That is a predictable pattern.  Our moon changes shape by going from a Full Moon to a New Moon over and over again! Today your job is to create a model of the phases of the moon. 


25 minutes

I ask my students to describe the different Moon phases in friendly terms with their turn and talk partners. I purpose for this is that it allows students to make a connection to the different shapes before being asked to learn the different names. The NGSS does not require that students know the names of the phases so this lesson will focus primarily on the changing pattern of the moon.

Boys and girls you noticed that reflection on the Moon makes different shapes.  Let's see if we can think of something that looks like each of these shapes. 

Full Moon - I tell my students that when we can see the entire face of the Moon it is called a Full Moon. My students describe it as a circle, clock face, bowl of milk (connection to Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes)

New Moon -  A New Moon is made when the side of the Moon that is facing the Earth is not illuminated. You can see a new Moon during daytime but not the night. My students describe it as invisible. 

Crescent -  In this phase you can only see a small sliver of the Moon. My students describe it as a banana.

Gibbous - When almost the whole Moon is visible it is called Moon.  My students describe it as an oval or a squished Full Moon.

Quarter - In this phase only half of the Moon is illuminated. My students describe it as a half circle, half of a pizza, the letter D, half of a cookie.

I have students working independently or with partners. I give each child one Oreo cookies to create the phases of the Moon. I pass out a napkin, 1 Moon Phases Guide, 1 Popsicle sticks and 1 Oreo cookie to each partnership. Students each create the moon phases starting with the full moon.  After making a phase they find that moon on the Moon Phases Guide. 

This next part is very guided.  Together in as a whole group we work through each phase.  My students twist open their cookie. I ask my students, "What phase do you see on both halves of the cookie?" My students yell, "New Moon and Full Moon!" I ask my students to find these moons on our guide.  After finding the moon I ask them to put the New Moon in the corner of their napkin and using the Full Moon turn it into a Gibbous Moon.  This is where they can work with a partner.  They use the guide to help find the Giibbous Moon and then try to create it on their cookie.  I noticed that many of my students prefer to use their fingers rather than the Popsicle stick to carve the frosting.  YUM!We continue this all the way down to the New Moon....and then CRUNCH! My students eat their cookies.

As my students work I walk around and confer with each group naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. My goal with this conference is to prompt each group to try and think about the Moon patterns and use that pattern to try to put their cookies in order.  If this is too challenging I will encourage them to use the Phases of the Moon Guide.


10 minutes

In this section I bring my students back to the carpet to have a discussion.  I ask my students about the different Moon phases.  Boys and girls you just made the different Moon phases using an Oreo cookie.  Turn and tell your Turn and Talk partner what was easy and what was hard.  Talk about how you were able to make the different phases in the cookie. As my students are sharing I am careful to listen in on conversations.  I am listening for students to use the scientific names for the different Moon Phases as well as conversations about predictable patterns.


10 minutes

Research shows that our students are more likely to gain a deeper understanding of the science concepts when they are actively engaged in doing science. I believe that technology can allow children to experience this type of learning.  To elaborate on the learning from today's exploration my students listen to this song about the Phases of the Moon while eating a cookie.




25 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals.

For this formative assessment I ask my students to create a  Moon Flip Book. In this book students draw and cut out the phases of the moon and then label each moon phases. For support, I put a copy of the moon phases on our white board.  As students work I check in to see if my students put the moon phases in the correct order.  I am not too concerned if they mix up the names but I do want the pattern of the moon phases to be the correct order.

How to Make 1 Flip Book:

1. 8 sheets of black paper (4.5x3)

2. Staples sheet together on the short side of booklet

3. Have student number the Moon Flip Book pages from 1-8

4. Student draws and cut out the different Moon Phases and glue them into their Flip Books in order

5. Student labels the Moon Phase