First Grade NGSS
Light, Shadows, and Seasons


Exploring the Earth/Moon systems creates the ultimate shadow in the sky.


Exploring the phases of the moon.
Discovering how Sun, Earth and Moon causes shadows.

Phases of the moon
·         Crescent
·         Full Moon
·         New Moon
·         Gibbous

Model of Earth/ Sun/moon
·         Small ball (representing the moon)
·         flashlights
·         Earth Balls
·         Slideshow on Universe (portions of planets rotating and revolving)
·         Moon Phases worksheet
·         Oreos  (4 per student or pair)
·        Plastic spoon or knife


Mugambi’s Moving Moon
·      Zoom Zoom  (storybooks)  optional

         Dancing on the Moon (storybooks)
·         Phases of the Moon song


On Earth we always see the same side of the Moon, because as the Moon revolves around the Earth, the Moon rotates so that the same side is always facing the Earth. But the Moon still looks a little different every night. Sometimes the entire face glows brightly. Sometimes we can only see a thin crescent. Other times the Moon seems to disappear entirely. As the bright parts of the Moon appear to change shape during the month, each stage of the change is called a phase, and each phase carries its own name.



1.    May want to start off (or end the lesson) with Zoom Zoom….. get the students into the mood of learning about the Moon.

2.      Read the story.  Although Mugambi's Moving Moon is fictional, it reflects how children view and interpret their world. The Moon has a schedule and comes out at night.  Children observe the night time sky and realize that the Moon is predictable. Mugambi moves to a new place and knows the Moon will follow him and therefore is a comfort. Books like this can be used to illustrate the difference between illusion and fact. There are many additional books you can use to remind students there are many things we don't understand, but that is why we go to school.

3.   Read Dancing on the Moon storybook.  Before starting take a minute to review the prior lessons.  Remind students that the first three lessons were about how light works:  how it makes shadows, how light reflects and refracts light, and how refracting light can give us color.  Then they learned  that some objects in the sky produce light (stars) or reflect light (like the moon, etc).  Ask them how we get day and night (rotation), years (revolution around sun and seasons (tilt of the earth).  

For the names of the Moon’s Phases, tell them waxing is an old word meaning get bigger and waning is an old word for get smaller.  Crescent is usually pretty easy to understand since most have seen crescent rolls (or you can bring one in).  They remember gibbous if you tell them it is a funny word and is opposite of crescent.

4.      Explain the difference between a new Moon and a full Moon to the students. Group the students into threes. Have one student be the Sun (flashlight), one the Moon  (small Styrofoam ball), and one the Earth (large Styrofoam ball), . Again, have the Sun hold the flashlight. This time the Sun will shine on the Moon. |

     With a partner have students work with the Earth ball and the Moon to try and make sense of the diagram.   It is important to emphasis that these are big shadows.

An alternative activity for #4 to see the phases is to have the students act out all the phases using the light coming through a window on one side of the a darkened room as the sun.  Each student can hold a stryrofoam ball at arms’ length representing the moon.  Tell the students they are the earth.  You can have everyone do this at once.  Face the window which represents the sun.  The “moon” will be dark facing the student (backlit).  This is the new moon.  Turn all the way around with their backs to the window. Students hold the “moon” up so it is lit completely.  This is the full moon.  Then do quarter turns and once they can see those, add in the crescent and gibbous phases).   NOTE: If the light in the room is coming in from all sides, students can work in pairs and one student holds a flashlight to be the sun.

5.      Students may ask what an eclipse is…. So basically answer as it is a shadow caused by the Moon getting in between the Earth and Sun.

6.  Play the Phases of the Moon song.

7. Give them the Oreo Moon Phases worksheet.  Have them draw in the phases of the moon on each circle using the moon phases diagram (you can do this on the board so they are all doing it at once).

8.   Next give each student (or each pair of students) 4 oreos.  Have them open the oreo so that all the frosting is on one half and the other half has none.  Place the one with frosting in the full moon spot and then the one without frosting on the new moon.  Open the other cookies and move the frosting using the plastic knife or spoon so the frosting is the right shape for the Phase.  Once you have gone around and made sure their phases are correct, students can eat the cookies. 




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