Let's Take a Trip to Our Moon

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SWBAT explore the craters of the moon through literature, internet and hands-on inquiry.

Big Idea

When you look at the sky, what do you see? Let's take a close-up look at our very own 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. In this lesson students will observe how craters are created and record their findings on a Moon Crater Recording Sheet. 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 surface of the Moon. This lesson will provide students with background knowledge that will propel us into our unit that addresses standards 1-ESS1-1.

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 anchor chart

What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley

Explore Section: Plastic Container, flour, cocoa powder, Investigation Tray: Moon Crater Popsicle Stick (for measuring), various size balls (magnetic balls, golf ball, ping pong ball) and our Moon Crater Recording Sheet

Elaborate: Anchor Chart - Would you like to go to the moon?

Evaluate: Science journals - I just use blank paper in my journals so my students have space and freedom to experiment with graphic organizers, illustrations, etc.


-black card stock (1 per student)
-white and yellow crayon
-Moon Tracer
-white paint and a paint brush
-flour or corn starch
-Empty pop/water bottle with plastic cap


15 minutes

In this lesson I will be using our KLEWS anchor chart. This is a tools that allows students to track their understanding of a concept throughout a lesson.  All of the work on the KLEWS chart is done under an overarching theme or question.  Our overarching questions is: Does the moon have predictable patterns? 

I launch into this lesson with an Interactive Read aloud with the book, What the Moon is Like by Franklyn M. Branley. I don't read the whole book but rather the pages that talk about the moon's surface: craters, valleys and mountains.

Quality read-alouds are ones that allow children to be actively involved in asking and answering questions as well as making predictions.  There is a lot of research that states interactive read-alouds help students make gains in vocabulary development and comprehension. In these interactive read-alouds my students do more than just talk. They are asked to analyze information, make predictions, share their inferences, as well as share their thinking and pose thought provoking questions. As I read the book the children will be introduced to new vocabulary: crater, mountains, valleys.  I will write each new word on a card and add that vocabulary to science bulletin board.  At this point I only want to introduce the word to build prior knowledge.  As we continue through the unit we will build upon this learning.

After our read aloud I begin our discussion by asking my students if they have ever wondered what it would be like if they took a trip to the moon.  I ask my students to share their ideas and and then I ask, What is the moon's surface like?  After giving my students some think time, I ask them to share their ideas with their turn and talk partners.  As my students are sharing I listen in on conversations and when I bring them back together I share what I heard them say:

Boys and girls, I notice you all said the moon has craters, rocks, holes, and dirt. I even heard you say that you would see BIG, BIG holes and small holes. You are right! Those holes are called craters. Some craters are big and some are small. Have you ever wondered why the craters are different sizes? We are going to be investigating that question today!! I write that question on a sticky note and put it on our KLEWS chart.


25 minutes

In this section we will be investigating our testable question: Why are craters different sizes? I record this question on our sticky note and place it on our KLEWS chart.

In this lesson I group my students into four groups. I typically like using partnerships over small groups because I feel it allows for more student engagement however this lesson really calls for students to be in groups of four. My experience is that the larger the group the less students participate so I have a strategy that helps to support student engagement: JOBS!!!  I love assigning jobs to students in groups of 3 or more because each child has a special role. For this lesson I have "made up" four jobs.

The Dropper – This child drops the ball

The Measurer – This child measures the hole of the crater

The Recorder – This child records the observations on the recording sheet

The Manager – This child makes sure that everyone is doing his/her job.

Students will rotate these jobs by passing the job tags so each person gets a chance to do each job. You will notice that my recording sheet includes four different balls. That allows each child a turn to drop a ball (the most desired job).

Before sending my students off to work in groups I take time to teach how to choose jobs and share jobs. This is really important.  If you take time to set the stage by teaching respect and how to be agreeable, sharing job and group work will run smoothly. I start by giving my students talking prompts like:

*What job would you guys like?

*Would you mind if I was _____ first?

*Sure you can be the ____ first. Can I be that after you?

Next I teach my students what it means to be agreeable.  It is really important that my students know that being agreeable helps to create a great working environment. I tell my students, When you are agreeable magical things can happen in your investigation.  When groups are agreeable they have SO much more fun than groups that argue and disagree.  Sometimes when you don't get your first choice you can pat yourself on the shoulder and say, 'That's okay. That's okay. I can do that first another day.' Give that a try if you start to help you be agreeable.

Getting ready for group work

In this section, we are going to explore how moon craters are formed using plastic shoe containers, flour, cocoa powder, Moon Crater Popsicle stick (for measuring), various size balls (magnetic balls, golf ball, ping pong ball, marble) and our Moon Crater Recording Sheet. I remind my students that the moon has thousands of bowl-shaped holes called craters. I tell them that these craters were formed by when meteorites (pieces of rock or other matter that have fallen from space) or other space objects crash into the moon. I tell them that today they will have a chance to study different craters and their sizes. I want my students to make reasonable explanations for the different size craters on the moon.

Boys and girls, today you are about to study craters. You will be given a plastic container that has flour and cocoa powder. Your job is drop (you may not throw) these magnetic balls from different heights and observe what happens.  Then you measure how deep the crater is and record that on your Moon Crater Recording Sheet.  Once you have done this three times, you get to try the same thing with the golf ball and then the ping pong ball. Today I want you to try and figure out this question,  "Why are craters different sizes?" 

Making Craters

The Common Core asks students to explore with non-standard forms of measurement. In this lesson students will be using Popsicle sticks with markings to measure the depth and width of each crater. I model the creation of a crater using the magnetic balls. I drop one of the balls into the flour at a full arms length and then again at only a half of an arms length. Then I model how to measure the depth and diameter of the craters using the Moon Crater Popsicle stick. Next I show them how to record their findings on our Moon Crater Recording Sheet.

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.  The students respond with, "Look the magnetic ball made a deeper crater than the ping-pong ball.  That is cool." I will ask, "Why? What made the whole deeper?"


10 minutes

In this next section I want my students to share their findings with their peers.  Before sending my students to share their work I ask them to include their data and thinking. I put two groups together to share their findings and listen in on the conversations. I then ask my students, Now that you have listen to someone else share their research has your thinking changed?  We do this several times so that my students get a chance to share their findings with different groups.

I bring the class back together in our meeting area to fill in the rest of our KLEWS anchor chart. We go back to our claims and record more of the "Learning" and "Evidence." I use arrows on the chart to connect claims to multiple pieces of evidence. 


10 minutes

In this section students will watch actual footage of the moon. My students can see some of the rough terrain that the astronauts walked as well as footage of an actual crater up close.

On my chart I have an anchor chart called Would You Like to Go to the Moon? I have my students write their names on a card and then glue it in the column labeled YES or No. I have them turn and share their reasons with their Turn and Talk Partners.

Boys and girls in total 12 people have walked on the moon but The Unites States of America was the very first country to put man on the moon. These men were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The name of their spaceflight was Apollo 11 and it landed in 1969.  Let's look at our class timeline and put a picture of Apollo 11 on it.  It was because of this mission that we got some of the first pictures and video of what it is really like on the moon.  Today you are going to watch three short videos of this very exciting time in our history.

This video Neil Armstrong describes the surface as a fine powder.

This video is an overview of Apollo 11's mission to the moon.


5 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.

I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write about our investigation today. I ask, "Why are craters different sizes?" As the students write I tell them to refer back to the research we did today. I tell them to use information from their recording sheet to help with their scientific writing. I am looking for answers that include words like crater, rocks, deep, meteorites, etc. This formative assessment gives me insight on the learning that is taking place.

I use my Document Camera to show students examples of quality scientific writing and illustrations to act as model for students needing extra support. 


20 minutes

Moon Art: My students have tons of fun creating textured Moon Art. 

You will need:
-black card stock (1 per student)
-white and yellow crayon
-Moon Tracer
-white paint and a paint brush
-flour or corn starch
-Empty pop/water bottle with plastic cap

I prepare the paint and flour mixture by mixing 1 part paint to 1 part corn starch. After I mix the ingredients it is consistency of oatmeal.

My students use the Moon Tracers to trace a circle onto their black card stock using a white crayon. Students paint in their circles using the paint and flour mixture and then before it dries they press the cap of the pop bottle into the paint to create craters.   After the Moon Art has dried my students use the yellow crayon to draw stars around the moon.