Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lesson - The Moon

We followed up our Sun theme with a lesson on the moon.  One thing I love about preparing these lessons is that I always learn something new myself.  For example, I didn't realize that we were the only country to walk on the moon or that we hadn't been to the moon since 1972.  I researched some information on the moon on Wikipedia for this week's lesson.  My new printer arrived the day before the lesson and although I used it to print out some photos, we didn't do any activity sheets this week.

Welcome Song

Announce Date

Last week we talked about the sun.  Today we are going to talk about another bright object in the sky.  Can you guess what it is?  The Moon. 

I printed this photo from wikipedia and let the kids pass it around
The moon orbits the Earth.  Orbit means it goes around the Earth like this.  (Demonstrate with a globe and a golf ball or similar items.)  It takes the moon about 28 days to make a complete orbit around the Earth, or about one month.

Do you know what shape the moon is?  Although the moon looks different to us at different times, it is round like the sun.  But the moon doesn't have any light of its own.  The moon reflects the light of the sun.   Depending on where the moon is during the month, we can only see part of it lit up by the sun.  The rest is dark to us.  As the moon moves around the Earth, we see different amounts of it lit up by the moon.  At one point, the whole moon is lit up and it looks like a full circle.  This is called a full moon.  During a full moon, the moon and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth.  When the moon is between the sun and the Earth, it is a new moon and we can barely see it because the side that the sun is lighting up is on the side we can't see.

From the navy's website
I printed out the photo above and referenced it while explaining the phases of the moon.

The way the moon looks different to us over time is called the phases of the moon. The first phase is called a new moon, where you can barely see the moon at all because the side that is lit up is facing away from us.  Then there is a waxing crescent moon.  At this point, the moon is crescent shaped and getting a little bigger every day.  That's what waxing means - getting bitter.  The next phase is the first quarter moon when half the moon is lit up.  After that, it is a waxing gibbous moon when it is more than half but not yet a full moon and growinb bigger every day.  When the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, it is a full moon and looks like a circle.  Then it starts to shrink and becomes a waning gibbous moon.  Just like the waxing gibbous moon, it is more than a 1/2 moon, but it is getting smaller every day.  Waning means getting smaller.  When it is back down to 1/2, it is a last quarter moon.  When it is smaller than 1/2, we say it is a waning crescent moon, which is crescent shaped and getting smaller, until it is back to new moon.

Using 3 volunteers, we performed the following activity:  One child was the sun and stretched her arms out in front of her to show she was shining in that direction.  Another child was the Earth.  A third child was the moon.  I placed them in a row with the moon in between.  I showed how the sun's rays lit up the back of the "moon" so that from the Earth, we couldn't see the lit part of the moon.  This is the new moon.  Then I had the "moon" stand on one side of the "Earth" and pointed out which side was lit up and how this looked like a half moon.  Then the "moon" stood on the far side of the "Earth" from the "sun" and I explained how this was a full moon.  Then I demonstrated the three quarter moon and back to new moon.  In between positions, I said whether the moon was waxing or waning crescent or gibbous.

I passed around this photo of Buzz Aldrin stepping on the moon

In 1969, Neil Armstrong, an American, was the first person to set foot on the moon.  He took a picture of Buzz Aldrin as he got off the lunar lander.   No one has walked on the moon since 1972.

Felt Board Activity 
Inspired by Jean Warren's suggestions on Moon activities, I cut out a moon and rocket shape out of felt.  I have this portable 3-in-1 easel that includes a felt board which is great for preschool lessons.

Taking turns, I had the children place the rocket in different locations relative to the moon, such as above, below, to the right or to the left.  We also did behind and in front.  If kids know clockwise or counter-clockwise, you can have them move the rocket around the moon in one of those directions.  They really enjoyed this exercise and wanted multiple turns.

Shape of the Day - Crescent
Pointing to a crescent moon on the phases photo, ask: Do you remember what shape this is?  A crescent.  We are going to read a story about shapes and I want you to watch for the crescent shapes.

Nova the Robot Builds a New Friend
by David Kirk

In this book, there are lots of shapes to look for and I had the kids take turns looking for the correct shape on each page, paying special attention to the pages that had crescent shapes

We had a snack break that included moon-shaped snacks: melon slices and vanilla wafers.  You can also do apple slices, banana slices, crescent rolls, orange slices.  Ideally something that is crescent shaped, but round or half -circles work, too.

During snack I read another story to the kids:

Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown
This is a classic children's story.  I had the kids look for the little mouse on each colored page.  It's one of my son's favorite things to do when we read this story.

Moon activity
After snack, I gave each child a ball of homemade, uncolored play doughThis idea was inspired by Jean Warren's moon craters activity.  For the recipe, I used one I found on that turned out fantastic.  The best homemade recipe I've found so far.  I made the recipe exactly as suggested and divided it into 6 balls for the 6 kids we had.  It was just the right amount for a moon for each child.  To make craters, we used fingers, the cap end of the glue sticks, and Duplos.  The kids really enjoyed playing with the dough.

This craft was my own idea.  I gave each child 5 phases of the moon: a full moon, two half-moons and two crescent moons.  I have a circle cutting device from my scrapbooking days that worked great for creating the pieces.  Then we glued them onto black, purple or blue construction paper.
My sample of the craft project
Their interpretation
Closing circle
I didn't know a moon themed song, so we ended preschool with another moon story.

Long Night Moon
by Cynthia Rylant
This book is beautifully illustrated and tells the names of the moons of each month, as named by Native Americans.

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