Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Moon Seen From EARTH!

Eight Phases of the Moon

Brenda Rivera, Patricia Turner | Published: July 6th, 2022 by Oklahoma Young Scholars/Javits

  • Grade Level Grade Level 1st
  • Subject Subject Science
  • Course Course Earth Science
  • Time Frame Time Frame 40-minute sessions
  • Duration More 2 sessions


In this lesson, students explore the changes that happen from night to night in the sky, especially the Moon's changing appearance. Students learn that as the Moon orbits the Earth, the Moon appears to change shape, which is a predictable pattern. In this lesson, students use a Moon card sort, view and listen to books and videos that explain the predictability of the Moon's phases and get creative making a Moon Phase model using Oreo cookies.

Essential Question(s)

When can we observe the Moon in the sky, and does it always look the same?



Students listen to a fiction book, such as There Was An Old Astronaut Who Swallowed the Moon, and discuss what is real and what is made up. They also talk about what they know and like about the Moon or space.


Students sort pictures of the things in the sky into groups. Then using just the Moon cards, they place them in the order they think they might see the Moon during the month.


Students watch a video about Moon phases and revise the order of their moon phase cards. Then, working as a class, they create an anchor chart to show the pattern of how we see the Moon and add names to each phase.


Students create a model of the Moon’s phases using Oreo cookies. Finally, they review their learning by sharing with a partner to answer to focus questions.


Students take a picture of their Oreo Moon phases with their tablets and then record themselves explaining the Moon phases.


  • Book: "There Was An Old Astronaut Who Swallowed the Moon" by Lucille Colandro

  • Moon Card sort (attached; one per pair of students)

  • Moon Phase Labels (attached)

  • Oreo Moon Phase template (attached)

  • I Used To Think, But Now I Know (attached)

  • Chart paper

  • Oreo Originals (not the thin ones; eight per student)

  • Plastic knives or craft sticks

  • Zip-locked plastic bags


15 Minute(s)

Start the lesson by asking students what their favorite thing is about the moon or about outer space.

After this short conversation, introduce the "Old Lady Book Series" and tell them that this book is about an Old Lady that was an astronaut! Read or watch online the book There Was An Old Astronaut Who Swallowed the Moon by Lucille Colandro.

As you read, stop and talk about what things in the book students think are real and what ideas are not real or are just for fun.


20 Minute(s)

Divide the class into pairs. Give each team a Card Sort bag containing the pictures of the moon, fake moons, and other things they see in the sky. Have students sort them into categories of their choosing. As you monitor the class, ask students why they sorted the cards the way they did.

Have them sort their cards into two piles: Moon cards and others. Have students keep only the moon cards, placing the others back in the baggies. Then have them sort the moon pictures into pictures of the actual moon and fake moons. Have students share how they knew the difference between the real and fake moons. Once students have shared their perceptions, put the fake moons in the bag.

Have students take the "real" moon cards and place them in the order they think they would see them appear during the month. There is no need to correct students' work at this time. Ask students to share why they placed the moons in the order they did.


30 Minute(s)

Show the class the video about the Moon phases: "Why Does the Moon Change?"

After the class has watched the video, give students a few minutes to revise the order of their Moon cards. As they are working, monitor the room and check to see what changes they are making.

As you create a Moon Phase Anchor Chart with students, discuss why the moon looks different during the month. Ask students to identify the names of the phases. Use a set of moon cards and have the class help you place them in the correct order to make the Anchor Chart. As you do this, add the names of the phases to your Chart. Example of the moon chart:

You could also do this while reading "The Moon Book " by Gail Gibbons or watching and pausing the video, "Moon Phases Explained."

Continue to emphasize that the pattern of how we see the moon is predictable and happens every month. The actual names of the phases are not as important as understanding that this is a predictable pattern.


25 Minute(s)

Give each student an Oreo Moon phase handout, a plastic knife, and a bag of Oreos.

Using the Moon phase Anchor Chart to help you model, start with the New Moon and have students place one of the dark sides of the Oreo in that spot; the other half, with the white cream, should be saved for the full Moon. Continue working through the phases as the class names them aloud and cuts their filling to match the next phase of the Moon. The class continues by placing each Oreo in the correct spot as you model the placement.

After the Oreo Moon cycle is complete, ask students to share their answers to the following focus questions with a partner.

  • What have you observed about the shape of the Moon?

  • What do you notice about the part of the Moon that we can see — the white part? Does it get bigger or smaller?

  • Is the black part, the part we can’t see, always there?

  • Can you predict what the Moon will look like tomorrow?

  • What pattern does the Moon have?

  • How long does it take for the Moon to complete its cycle? Or get back to the New Moon?

  • There are 12 months in the year. How often does the Moon complete its pattern?

  • What did we learn about why we sometimes see the Moon during the day?


30 Minute(s)

Have students take a picture of their Oreo Moon phases with their tablets. Then, working with a partner, have students record themselves explaining the Moon phases. Model this and walk around the room, helping students explain themselves. This activity can then be uploaded through the Seesaw app if available. You could also print off their Oreo Moon charts and have students present their charts.

Finally, have students write a sentence using the I Used to Think… But Now I Know strategy. You may pass out the attached handout with this sentence stem printed.


Cover image from There Was An Old Astronaut Who Swallowed the Moon by Lucille Colandro