Teaching Phases of the Moon
The lesson begins with a demonstration for the students on how the changes what we see in the sky occur. To do this, you will need:
- A light source, a large flahslight or gooseneck lamp would work.
- A ball, about the size of a tennis ball.
- Large area covered with dark material – several pieces of black construction paper taped to the wall or white board work well
Aim the light at the dark surface. Explain to the students that the moon does not emit any light on it’s own, but that the light comes from the sun.
Have one student stand in the center of the dark cloth holding the tennis ball. This ball represents the moon. Students should see that as the ball is held up in the light, only one side of it is illuminated, the rest of the ball will be in darkness. The moon rotates around the Earth, and as it rotates, we see parts of the moon light up, and the part that is in shadow appears invisible to us. You can demonstrate this by having students view the ball from different angles.
Depending on their level of understanding, vocabulary on the Moon might need reinforcing. It is best to give them as a comprehensive list, which they can learn at their own speed. Remember, the more you use the words in class, scaffolding them into other subject areas if possible, the faster the students will learn and understand them.
Scaffolding can include having a selection of books on the moon for the students to read. Post famous artwork of the moon, including cartoons, around the classroom. Have the class write a Moon acrostic. However, first they will need to learn the vocabulary.
Some words that will be necessary for teaching 4th grade ESL phases of the moon are:
- Full moon
- Quarter moon
- New moon
- Lunar eclipse
Loony Lunar Facts
Making learning fun is always a win/win situation. Teaching students some of the crazy facts about the moon is sure to spawn some giggles as well as increase interest.
There are resources available both on and off line that give a list of these "loony lunar facts." The Book of the Moon by Tom Folley (Quartro Publishing, London) has many interesting and fun facts along with quotes, poems, and myths. Online, https://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/top_10_cool_moon_facts-10.html has ten facts about the moon that are sure to capture your students’ attention. In addition, https://www.moonconnection.com/moon_facts.phtml has a list of trivia along with facts.
One of the best known crazy facts about the moon that is sure to tickle the classes funny bone is that back in the 1500’s John Heywood, a writer and poet, wrote proverbs (Two heads are better than one.). He is attributed as being the first to say the moon looks like greene (which in old English meant "new") cheese. So, the idea that the moon was made of cheese came about through the creative writing of Mr. Heywood!
Once students are acquainted with the vocabulary, try giving them a crossword or a word search (find one with answer sheet here) to complete. Other quick and interesting ideas include having them draw a picture of what they think the moon looks like, or reading in English poems or myths about the moon. Over all, the best way for the students to learn is to have fun doing it.