The moon is one of those topics that all of your middle school science students will have some background knowledge around. However, to teach your students about the 8 phases of the moon, you will need to expand their understanding of the Sun-Moon-Earth system. Here is how to do it!
Have Students Observe the 8 Phases of the Moon
The phases of the moon are hugely visual. As a result, you will want to start by having your students start paying attention to how the moon looks. Who wouldn’t love a homework assignment of searching for the moon each night? I also love using videos for visual topics. Your students can watch videos of the 8 phases of the moon. They can also watch animation videos that show how the moon’s orbit around the Earth and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun create the moon phases. There are tons of video options!
Learning the Vocabulary
Once students understand the causes of the moon phases, they are ready to learn the vocabulary specific to the 8 phases of the moon. The names for the 8 phases of the moon come from Latin and Old English, so a quick vocabulary lesson will help your students understand and memorize the names of the moon phases. For example, did you know gibbous means humpbacked?
Play with the 8 Phases of the Moon
An activity will help students take ownership of the 8 phases of the moon. A simple activity is to have students sort pictures of the moon into the phases of the moon. You will want to specify if the observer of the moon is in the northern or southern hemisphere because the moon looks different on the opposite sides of the world. Doing both versions is a great extension!
Next comes practice. If we want our students to remember the 8 phases of the moon, we have to give them opportunities to practice remembering it. My favorite way to do this is flashcards. As you know, flashcards are quick, easy to make, and force students to try to remember information. I love flashcards!
Save Yourself Some Time
Does all of this sound great, but you don’t have time to put everything together? I got you covered! My phases of the moon printable and digital resource has everything you need to make your middle school science students experts on the 8 phases of the moon! Yep, that includes a reading passage, an activity, comprehension questions, and flashcards. Click to check it out!
ARE YOU TEACHING SCIENCE?
I am working on creating more science units so that every science teacher can get exactly what he or she needs for her students. You can also read about how I use brain science to teach other science topics on my blog. Click the pictures below to learn more.