Let's Observe the Moon! - Day 2

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SWBAT observe monthly calendars and identify that the moon does in fact change in a pattern.

Big Idea

Let's investigate!! Does the moon have a predictable pattern like the sun? Students get to investigate predictable patterns by studying moon calendars.

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.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this lesson students will be introduced to the Earth, moon and sun (our star). 1-ESS1-1 asks students to use observations to explore the predictable patterns of our moon, sun and stars.  The Next Generation Standards also asks that students themselves carry out investigation and use first hand observations.  In this lesson students will use their observations of the moon to further their understanding of the predictable patterns of the moon.

Scientific Process:

The scientific method is a form of exploration that allows scientists to explore observations and answer questions. This exploration can be used to notice when changes in an object cause a change in another object (If you shine a light on an object, that object will reflect light but if you move the object the way the object looks changes).  This allows scientists to discover cause and effect relationships in our environment.

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 Observation 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 Phases 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.


Video: Outer Space: "Time to Shine," The Moon Song by StoryBots

KLEWS Chart - Does the moon have predictable patterns?

Moon Calendars - I group my students by table and give each table moon calendars for the months of January - December.

Venn Diagram

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: Does the moon shape change in a predictable pattern?


15 minutes

In order to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration. I begin this lesson activating prior knowledge for my young students with this fun video about the moon.


In our last lesson we started our KLEWS anchor chart titled, "Does the moon have predictable patterns? If so, what are they?"

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.

Boys and girls looking at our KLEWS chart from our last lesson you learned that the moon moves across the day sky.  We also learned that the moon changes shape! Isn't that exciting? We are finding more patterns in our sky!!

Today you are going to make some more observations about the moon.  We learned that the moon changes shape. Are you wondering something about our moon?  What are you wondering? Please share your questions with your turn and talk partner. I allow my students a few moments to share. As they share I sit and listen in on conversations and guide questions to support our investigation. 

My students say things like:

I am wondering why does the moon change?

I wonder if it changes all the time?

I wonder if it is a predictable pattern?

I bring my students back together. I am wondering the same thing as all of you?  Will you please take a moment and write your question on this sticky note?  Once you have written your question, you will come over to our KLEWS chart and stick it under the "What -What are you wondering?" column. 

After the students have placed their sticky notes on the KLEWS chart, I read over the questions and then point out which question we will be investigating in today's lesson.

Today we will be investigating this question, "I wonder how many shapes the moon can turn into? Is that a pattern?" 

I change the question just a bit and say, Let's investigate this question together, "Does the moon shape change in a predictable pattern?"


25 minutes

The NGSS asks that students develop a model to represent patterns in the natural and designed world. In this lesson students will observe moon calendars to determine if there is a pattern to the changing shape of the moon. They will have to look closely at multiple calendars to determine if there is a pattern to the changing shape.  I have calendars for each month of the year for students to examine. I found my calendars on Moonconnection.com.

I show my students the Moon Calendar that we have been filling in each day as students bring in the Moon Bag.  We look at our own observations and try to make some predictions about the changing shape of the moon.  We talk about the patterns on our classroom calendar. Then I show my students the monthly calendars from Moonconnection.com.

I ask my students, "Does the moon change in a predictable pattern?" In our investigation your job is to try and answer this question. You will need to look very closely at these moon phases calendars.  These calendars show the shape of the moon each night for an entire month. I hold up the January calendar. This calendar shows what the moon looks like for the whole month of January. I hold up the February calendar and March calendar. These calendars show what the moon liked in March and in February.  You will have see if you notice a pattern to the changing shape.  You will need to look at more than one month to see you can find a pattern to the moon's changing shape. . 

As my students are working I walk around and confer with each student 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. 


10 minutes

In this section my students analyze their data to answer our questions from above.

I bring the class together to share their observations with their turn and talk partners.  The strands of science proficiency involve students to participate productively in scientific practices and discourse.  I allow my students to think science and talk science.

I have my students talk about their observations with their turn and talk partners.  I listen in on conversations and then bring the class to attention to add to their observations.

I show my students a chart with the different phases of the moon and we review each moon phase. I point out the pattern on this chart.  The students yell, "That's what we saw too!"


10 minutes

The Common Core ELA standards asks that students explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types. Students are also asked to identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic. In this lesson we compare our fiction read aloud from our last lesson to our non-ficiton read aloud in this lesson. 

We read a nonfiction piece of literature: Phases of the Moon by Gillia M. Olso. In this section we compare and contrast the information from book we read in our last lesson. We compare Eric Carle's book Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me to today's read aloud.

Boys and girls in Eric Carle's book you heard a fictional story about a girl who played with the moon.  How is that book different that this book: Phases of the Moon? I record their thinking on our Venn Diagram.  How are these two books the same?  Did you notice any information that was factual in both books? I record their thinking in the middle of our Venn Diagram. 


10 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, What patterns do you see in the moon over time? Explain what makes these patterns. 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 phases of the Moon, patterns, etc. I am looking for illustrations that will show my students are beginning to understand the predictable patterns of the Moon along with its phases.  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. 

At the end of this lesson, I bring the students back to our KLEWS chart to close out the lesson. With the class, we move the sticky notes "wonderings" that were answered in this lesson over to the "Know" section of our KLEWS chart.  We talk about how these questions were answered and pat ourselves on the back for doing "good science."