Let's Observe the Moon! - Day 1

10 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify the patterns of the moon.

Big Idea

Let's get outside and observe the moon during the day!! What patterns do you notice?

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.


Our Night Sky anchor chart

KLEWS Chart - Does the moon have predictable patterns?

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

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

Science Journal Prompt: What are the patterns of the moon?

Journal Prompt: What are the patterns of the moon?


15 minutes

I want to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration. In our earlier lesson, Our Sky I asked students to observe the sky and record their "noticings" in their science journals. 

WOW! Do you remember when you observed our day sky?  Vincent yells, "Oh yeah! We saw the moon." Do you remember that you observed our moon during the day and at night?  That was such a smart observation. You scientists are always observing and noticing new things.  That is what science is all about! Your observations will make you very good a discovering new stuff. 

I tell my students that we are going to be studying our very own moon for the next couple of weeks.

Boys and girls in our lesson title "Our Sky," you made some amazing observations about objects in the sky.  Let's look again at our anchor chart and see what we found: stars, planets, sun, and moon. I hold up a picture of the sun. Do you know what is in this picture? You are right! This is the MOON.  The moon is a sphere or a ball just like the Earth and the sun. I hold up one of our recess balls and toss it to a couple students in the classroom.  

For the next series of lessons we will be using the same anchor chart.  A KLEWS anchor chart is described as a tool that allows students to track their learning throughout an investigation, building up to the understanding of a scientific principle. Our KLEWS chart will track the learning about the moon for our next lessons.  I show my students our KLEWS anchor chart and read the Essential Question that will guide our lessons: Does the moon have predictable patterns? If so, what are they? My students are familiar with this question because our last KLEWS chart asked a very similar question about the moon.

Do you remember using that word predictable when we studied the sun? What is a prediction?  You are right! A prediction is a guess that is made based on clues.  We also talked about that word pattern?  Turn and tell your partner some examples of a pattern. My students share examples and I listen in on their conversations so I can share some examples when we regroup. What does it mean, “A predictable pattern?”

Great JOB! This is exactly what we are going to be observing or discovering. Does the moon have a pattern that repeats over and over again just like the sun did?


25 minutes

The NGSS asks that students observe the moon so for this lesson we will be heading outside. Be sure to start this lesson either a week before or a week after a full moon. That is when our daytime moon will be present in either the afternoon or morning.

Do you remember how surprised you were when we saw the moon in our day sky! Well, guess what? The moon is visible in the sky again today. We are going to spend some time studying the moon. 

We head outside to do some moon observations. Attending to precision is a skill that I work on all year with my first grade students. I encourage my students to create accurate representations in their moon drawings.  I ask them to pay close attention to the color, lines, and shape of the moon as well as where it is located in the sky. I ask questions like: Is it up high or low? Is it really dark? Is it light?  Is it completely round?

Today we are going to go outside and observe the moon and you are going to make some predictions about what the moon's patterns. When you do your observations you will be drawing like a scientist. Remember when we watched the video about Austin's Butterfly.  He had to work very hard to create an accurate representation by paying close attention to the lines, size and angles. Today I want you to do the same exact thing. When you look up at the moon you may want to draw a quick circle and then say you are done because many times when we think of the moon we think of a circle in the sky.  Today I want you to look closely at the moon and draw exactly what you see. I want you to pay close attention to the color, lines, and shape of the moon as well as where it is located in the sky. Do you remember how we decided how high the sun was in our sky? What tools did our friends suggest we use to measure?

In our lesson Let's Observe the Sun-Day 1, I asked my students to think of a way to measure how far the sun was from our horizon. This question really stumped them until one of my students suggested using a pencil. I remind my students of this conversation and suggest using the same tool. 

Each student takes along a clip board, writing tools and their science journals and we head outside to do some observations.

 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 with questions that will allow for their illustrations to be accurate representations of the moon. I want them to notice where the moon is located and how that is different from seeing it in the night sky. I also am hoping they will notice that moon is not a full moon and thus not a full circle however that observation may be a little hard to notice during the day. 


10 minutes

Back in the classroom I have my students share their drawings. The common core writing standards asks student to focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed. This can be done by sharing illustrations as well.  My students share their drawing and respond to feedback or questions from their peers. 

After a few minutes I bring them back together to fill in our KLEWS anchor chart. We will look at our illustrations (our evidence) and share our observations.

Boys and girls today you observed the moon.  Did anything surprise you? My students share that the moon was really low and not up high like at night. You are right! That is because our moon moves across the sky. Let's watch this video. Watch and you can see the moon moving across the sky.

Boys and girls, what can we write under the word "Learned?"  My students share, "Our moon moves across the sky."  Boys and girls that is a pattern. Every night we can count on the moon moving across the sky. I write that on our anchor chart.

How about the shape of the moon?  Was it a circle? I am hoping that they noticed that the moon was more oblong missing one of its sides. What does that tell you about the moon? Yes! You are right! The moon changes shape.  Let's write that under the word "Learned."

As the students share I record their findings on KLEWS chart under E-"What is our Evidence?"

I record:

The sun moves across the sky.

The sun was low in the morning.

The sun was high in the sky at lunch.

At afternoon recess it was low again.


10 minutes

I continue this lesson with a read aloud: Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle. If you want you could always use the video but be sure to have the book along to tie in the ELA standards. I hold up the book and ask my students if this book is fiction or nonfiction.  The Common Core English Language Arts Standards asks our students to explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types. I ask my students to "explain" their thinking to their turn and talk partners.

Boys and girls this book is written by one of the authors we have been studying this year -Eric Carle.  I hold up the book and then open it up and flip through the pages so they can see the father climbing a ladder to the moon. As you look at this book are there any clues on the cover or in the pages that tell about the genre of this book?  Do you think this book is fiction or do you think it is nonfiction? Look and think carefully.  When you have a thought please give me a thumbs up. Please turn and share your thinking with your turn and talk partner. Please be sure to share why you think that.  Tell you partner what clues from the book helped you come up with an idea.

You are right! This book is fiction.  I love that one of you said that you cannot climb a ladder to the moon. I noticed someone else said the pictures look like a work of fiction. You are right. These illustrations do not look very realistic.  They are a beautiful work of art though. Today as we read this book I want you to know that some books can take factual information and make it silly.  This book actually does that.  I want you to listen for some information that might be factual as I read along.

I read the book aloud to my students, stopping at conversation points.  I allow the children to have rich conversations about the changing size of the moon.

Boys and girls did you notice any information that could be factual in this book or did this book remind you of something you already know about the moon? 

I record their thinking on our KLEWS chart under Know - What we "think" we know!

Student List:

I know the moon is big.

It is really far away.

There is a face in it but it can't really talk.

It is really bright.

It really can change sizes.


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 the answer to our big question: "What are the patterns of the moon?"

As the students write I tell them to refer back to the research we did today. I am looking for answers like, "The moon moves across the sky." or "The moon can change its shape and move." This formative assessment gives me insight on the learning that is taking place.