The Earth's Moon

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SWBAT explain information about the appearance of the moon as seen from Earth.

Big Idea

Using age-appropriate texts, students do some research of their own!

Teacher Preparation

In this lesson, students will learn about the features of the moon including how astronauts have been able to travel to it and what we have learned from their visits! It is important for students to understand how we have the scientific understanding and knowledge that we have. This lesson serves to explain that for students by exploring the idea of space travel. Also, during this lesson, students will create a paper model of the sun, moon, and Earth to illustrate how the moon orbit the Earth and the Earth and moon (together) orbit the sun. This lesson is being taught after students have a firm understanding that the sun is the center of the solar system. This lesson aligns to Essential Standard 1.E.1.1, Recognize differences in the features of the day and night sky and apparent movement of objects across the sky as observed from Earth. Our essential questions for today are "Why can we see the moon?" and "How does the moon move?" which were asked by students at the beginning of this unit. Click for for my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question. This lesson also aligns to NGSS 1-ESS1-1, 'Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted' as students use their own observations and observations from media to describe the patterns of the moon in the sky.


*Nonfiction text such as The Moon by Seymour Simon

*Science journals & pencils

*1 copy of Earth/moon/sun model per student (I found mine by searching online)


Warm Up

5 minutes

To begin this lesson, I direct students to review the questions they asked at the beginning of this unit. They had several about the moon. We have already completed two STEM Lab cycles where they learned about the phases of the moon and the lunar surface. Now, it is time to focus more on the movement of the moon as seen from Earth and the characteristics of the moon. I say,

"Two of the big questions you had at the beginning of this unit were "Why can we see the moon?" and "How does the moon move?" Now, take a minute and talk to your neighbor and see if you can develop one more really good scientific question together."

Asking scientific questions supports Science and Engineering Practice 1. After 2-3 minutes, I ask for students to share and we add any more questions to our chart. Then, we begin the activity.


30 minutes

First I read the text The Moon by Seymour Simon to provide explicit scientific information to answer many of my students' questions about the moon. This specific text has many photographs, diagrams, and other illustrations that are useful in explaining abstract ideas about the moon and space to students. Using media, including texts, to gain scientific information supports Science and Engineering Practice 4.

As I read the text, I stop at the end of each page to make sure my students understand what I have read. I see if it has answered any of their questions and we continue. After the text, I say,

"Who has a question that was answered with information from this text? Okay, what was your question and what was the answer?"

Sharing and communicating information about scientific information supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.

Next, I say,

"So our second question was about how the moon moves. The scientific word for that is 'orbits'. Who knows something about that?"

Since we have already talked about the Earth orbiting the sun, the students have some background knowledge about how this works! I explain how the moon orbits the Earth. Then I say,

"Now we are going to make a paper model that shows how the sun, Earth, and moon all work together. Which one is bigger - the sun, Earth, or moon? That's right - the sun is much bigger! So in our model, the sun is the biggest, although if this was truly accurate the sun would be way bigger than this!"

We continue to make our model so my students further understand how the moon orbits the Earth and then the Earth orbits the sun. Making a model to understand a scientific concept supports Science and Engineering Practice 2, 'Developing and Using models'. We use accurate colors to finish our models, then we move into our wrap up.


Wrap Up

2 minutes

We spent a lot of time talking about the moon, specific facts, and asking and answering questions today, so the wrap up is very quick! I say,

"Turn to a neighbor and tell them one thing you thought was really interesting that you might like to learn more about the moon!"

Again, communicating about scientific information supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.