Ways to Remember Waxing and Waning Moon Phases

Teaching about the moon phases can be a fascinating and exciting experience for both teachers and students. Here are some more ideas and tips on how to make the learning experience more engaging:

Use Technology to Teach the Moon Phases

There are several online resources that can help you teach the moon phases. For example, NASA has a free app called “Moon Phases” which shows the current phase of the moon as well as its libration (the wobbling of the moon as it orbits the Earth). You can use this app to show your students the current phase of the moon and compare it to the phases they are learning about.

Another great website to explore is this Moon Phases Interactive Chart!

Use Visual Aids

In addition to the anchor chart, you can use other visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, and videos to help your students understand the moon phases. For example, you can show them a time-lapse video of the moon phases or a diagram of the moon’s orbit around the Earth.

Connect the Moon Phases to Real-Life Situations

Ask your students if they have noticed the moon in the sky recently. Have them observe the moon every night for two weeks and record its phase. Then have them compare their observations to the moon phase chart. This will help them understand that the moon phases are not just abstract concepts but real-life phenomena that they can observe.

Here are some free moon phases tracking sheets to use with students:

Create a Moon Phases Song or Rap

Many students love music, so why not create a song or rap to help them remember the order of the moon phases? You can use the acronym “OMG” as a starting point and have your students come up with rhymes or lyrics for each phase.

Have Students Create Their Own Moon Phases Project

Encourage your students to use their creativity and come up with their own moon phases project. For example, they can create a diorama of the moon phases or a stop-motion animation video showing the moon’s cycle. Remember, the key to teaching the moon phases is to make it fun, engaging and interactive. By using a variety of strategies and techniques, you can help your students understand and appreciate the wonders of the moon.

Creating Moon Phases with Oreos: After introducing the phases, we dive into a hands-on activity that brings the moon phases to life: creating moon phases with Oreos! This activity not only reinforces learning but also stimulates students’ creativity and critical thinking skills. Here are the steps to guide you through this tasty project.

  1. Provide each student with a set of Oreos and a plastic knife.
  2. Demonstrate how to carefully scrape away the cream filling to represent each phase, starting with the New Moon.
  3. Guide students as they arrange the Oreos in the correct sequence on a plate or tray.
  4. Encourage students to label each phase and discuss its characteristics as they create their edible models.
  5. Once complete, invite students to enjoy their delicious creations while discussing what they’ve learned about the moon phases.

Addressing Common Student Confusions

Students often struggle with distinguishing between Crescent and Gibbous phases. To address this confusion, I teach them a simple mnemonic device: “C” for Crescent and “G” for Gibbous. The letter “C” visually resembles the shape of a crescent moon when turned on its side. Similarly, the letter “G” shares a visual resemblance with the shape of a gibbous moon when turned on its side.

You can also use the DOC acronym from starinastar.com.

Teach the Moon Phases Through Books

Children’s books can be a great way to introduce the concept of moon phases. There are several books like “The Moon Book” by Gail Gibbons or “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Kevin Henkes that can help your students understand the phases of the moon in a fun and engaging way.

Other books to explore are:

  • “The Moon Book” by Gail Gibbons: This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the moon, including its phases, surface features, and its relationship to Earth.
  • “If You Decide to Go to the Moon” by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Steven Kellogg: This imaginative book takes readers on a journey to the moon, offering a vivid depiction of what it would be like to visit Earth’s celestial neighbor.
  • “Jump into Science: Moon” by Steve Tomecek, illustrated by Liisa Chauncy Guida: This interactive book combines engaging text with hands-on activities, inviting readers to explore the science of the moon through experiments and observations.
  • “The Moon Seems to Change” by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by Barbara & Ed Emberley: This book provides a simple yet informative explanation of the moon’s phases, focusing on observations of the moon’s changing appearance throughout the month.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are memory aids that can help your students remember the order of the moon phases. For example, you can use the phrase “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” to remember the order of the planets in our solar system. Similarly, you can use the phrase “The Dark Side of the Cookie Always Faces Earth” to remember how the moon appears during the different phases.

How do you like to teach the moon phases and about the solar system? Comment below!