Here’s an easy activity to learn about moon phases. We used a styrofoam ball on a bamboo skewer. We put a lamp (without the shade) in a darkened room (we used our pantry). The lamp is the sun, the ball on the stick is the moon, the person holding it is earth. Hold the moon above your head for it to work (or you will block the shadow when your back is to the lamp/sun). Hold the stick out away from you and slowly turn in a circle. Watch the shadow on the ball change to reflect the phases of the moon. Name the phases as you go. Note that the same side of the moon is always facing you since it takes almost exactly the same time to rotate as it does to revolve around the earth. Blurry photos since I am not good with light settings. 🙂
Ladybug was so cute with this. She wanted to do it too, so I had her hold onto the moon and I spun her around while I told her such fascinating facts as “That’s the quarter moon! That’s the full moon! And look, you spun all the way around!” What fun, she had to do it again. (Yes, that’s a new haircut she is sporting. She cut her own hair and it required a bit of, um, layering to even it all out.)
Here’s a really great book to go along with this. This activity came from our Apologia text, but it is also detailed in this book (although they use an orange instead of a ball). This book had just the right amount of detail about moon phases for this age. Many of these Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out books are too simple, this one was better. (I just noticed this is illustrated by Ed Emberley, isn’t he the fingerprint art guy?)
We will be doing the Oreo moon phases activity too. How can we not? The kids have been begging for it ever since they found the Oreos in the pantry! We’ll probably make it a game like in this post from Delightful Learning. We’ve got some moon phase cards to look at somewhere too, so we are not quite done with the moon yet.