Lunar Cycle - Phases of the Moon

Contributor: Victoria Surface. Lesson ID: 10502

Have you heard the saying, "He's just going through a phase"? The moon goes through phases, too. With videos, graphics, Oreos, games, and calendars, learn about why the moon seems to change its face!


Space Science and Astronomy

learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Will the real moon please rise?

There is only one moon that orbits Earth.

Why does it appear larger or smaller on different days? Why does it appear to change its shape? What part does the sun play in how the moon appears? In this lesson, you will explore the lunar cycle and the phases of the moon.

1. Watch Lunar Cycle, Why The Moon Changes Shapes, 8 Phases Of The Moon, Learning Videos For Children (KidsEduc). As you watch, pause the video to take notes using the Graphic Organizer – Notes found in the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Use the questions below as a guide to assist you in note-taking:

  • Why does the moon look different to us on different days?
  • How often does the moon revolve around the Earth?
  • What do you see when the Earth is between the moon and the sun?
  • What is a crescent moon?
  • What is a gibbous moon?
  • Define the following terms: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent.


2. Read Phases of the Moon at PowerKnowledge Earth & Space Science. Click on each of the phases of the moon to read about them. You can also use the speaker button to have it read aloud. Use these questions as a guide to assist you in note taking:

  • Why is it interesting or ironic that the first phase is called the "new moon"?
  • When does the waxing crescent moon appear?
  • What does the word "crescent" mean?
  • What is another name for the first quarter moon?
  • What does the word "gibbous" mean?
  • What is a blue moon? What do people mean when they say “once in a blue moon”?
  • How much sunlight does the moon reflect?
  • Why is the moon sometimes visible in daylight?
  • What is another name for the third quarter moon? When does the third quarter moon appear?

Now, it's time to move on to the next "phase" of this lesson, the Got It? section.

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