Understanding the phases of the moon can be a tricky concept for a child in elementary school. There are many different aspects of the phases of the moon that children should learn. A moon phase lesson plan should be educational, yet fun so the students can better understand the lesson they are taught. Some concepts of teaching about the moon phases will be reviewed here.
First, you should help the children understand moon phase activity (the cycle of the moon), which is divided into 4 parts: new moon (where you see no moon at all), first quarter (only half of the moon can be seen), third quarter (only half of the moon can be seen), and full moon (the entire moon can be seen).
Your moon phase lesson plan should explain the difference in these moon phases. Use pictures and diagrams or software that illustrate what these moon phases look like.
Your moon phase lesson plan should go over the earth and moons orbit. You should first explain that the earth orbits the sun. Explain that the earth orbits the sun in about 365 days. Next explain that the earth rotates on its axis a full circle in about 24 hours. Then explain that the moon orbits the earth. The moon takes about 28 days to orbit the entire planet of earth. Then you can explain how the position of the earth, sun or moon affects the phases of the moon and which part of the moon we can see.
Next, explain how the moon does not produce any light, it merely reflects light from the sun. You should also explain that the moon can be seen both during the day and night.
To help your students understand this concept, you may like to do a hands on experiment. For this experiment you will need a darkened class room, soft balls or styrofoam balls, and flashlights. Information on how to execute this experiment can be found at http://www.eduref.org. It will help you in teaching the phase of the moon. This experiment is approved for children in grades K-6.
Allow plenty of time for your moon phase lesson. If your students have questions, be sure to answer them and clarify it by example, as the phase of moon can be a very confusing subject.
Keep it fun and interesting for the students. Remember that students will understand the phase of the moon better (and enjoy your lesson more) if you use a variety of teaching tools such as hands on experiments, diagrams, pictures, software and verbal explanations.