The moon phases worksheet freebie and moon unit study printable

How to Teach Kids about the Moon Phases| Worksheets and Tips

Inside: Explore the Moon with your kids through fun, hands-on activities, ideas, apps, videos, and free Moon phases worksheets. It’s a perfect blend of learning and play!

Ever felt a bit lost when your child throws a tricky question your way? You’re in good company if your kids’ latest questions have been about the Moon and the Moon Phases.

Kids are naturally curious and as parents, we are constantly looking for awesome materials to present the information they crave. That’s exactly what happened with Marc. His relentless questions about the moon’s formation and influence on Earth had me scrambling for answers I didn’t have—so we dove into learning together.

Our journey into the moon’s mysteries turned into a fun experience for both of us, sparking the creation of a set of resources that I’m excited to share with you. Whether your child is just starting to wonder about the moon’s phases or is ready to explore the deeper aspects of lunar geography and history, there’s something in these materials for every young astronomer.

I’ve tailored the content to cater to all levels of curiosity and understanding:

  • For the younger or beginning learners, there are straightforward FREE moon phases worksheets that make complex ideas accessible and fun. (so go ahead and grab these)
  • For those craving more depth, we delve into lunar features, offer flashcards with captivating facts, and explore ancient myths as well as scientific theories about how the moon came to be.

Marc’s fascination has blossomed into a wonderful learning opportunity, and I hope it does the same for your family. From simple activities to more comprehensive studies, these resources are designed to engage, educate, and inspire your kids as they discover the wonders of the moo

Phases of the moon worksheets and full printable unit study of the moon

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Teaching Kids the Basics of the 8 Moon Phases 🌕 🌖 🌗 🌘 🌑 🌒 🌓 🌔

The moon is a constant presence in our night sky, but its appearance changes systematically over about 29.5 days, known as a lunar cycle. These changes are what we call the moon’s phases, and they occur because of the moon’s orbit around Earth and the positioning of the sun.

The moon phases are the result of the changing angles from which we see the sunlight reflected off the moon’s surface. As the moon orbits the Earth, different portions of its visible surface are illuminated by the sun, ranging from completely illuminated to completely dark.

phases of the moon worksheets
Part of the Moon Phases poster included in An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids (get it FREE with the included sample!)

Major Phases of the Moon

  1. 🌑 New Moon: This phase occurs when the moon is positioned between the Earth and the sun. The side of the moon that faces Earth is not illuminated, which means it’s almost invisible to us.
  2. 🌓 First Quarter: About a week after the new moon, half of the moon’s surface is illuminated. We call this the first quarter because the moon is one-quarter of the way through its cycle.
  3. 🌕Full Moon: The full moon phase occurs when the Earth is between the sun and the moon. This alignment allows the moon’s surface facing Earth to be fully illuminated.
  4. 🌗 Last Quarter: This phase is similar to the first quarter, but now the other half of the moon’s surface is illuminated. It marks the three-quarter point in the lunar cycle.

Minor Phases of the Moon Explained

Between these major phases, there are several minor phases that further detail the moon’s transformation:

  1. 🌒 Waxing Crescent Moon: This phase follows the new moon. During this time, a small, increasing portion of the Moon’s visible surface is illuminated by direct sunlight. It begins as a thin crescent and gradually enlarges each day until it reaches the first quarter phase.
  2. 🌔 Waxing Gibbous Moon: This phase occurs after the first quarter moon and before the full moon. More than half of the Moon’s visible surface is illuminated and continues to grow until the entire disk is visible, marking the full moon phase.
  3. 🌖 Waning Gibbous Moon: After the full moon, the Moon enters this phase, where the amount of illumination decreases but more than half of the Moon’s surface is still illuminated. This phase lasts until the last quarter moon.
  4. 🌘 Waning Crescent Moon: This final phase of the cycle occurs after the last quarter moon and before the new moon. The visible illuminated part of the Moon decreases, presenting a thin crescent once more, which continues to wane until the moonlight is no longer visible, leading back to the new moon.

For those interested in exploring each phase in more detail, including activities that help visualize these changes, my printable resources are designed to enhance this learning by providing detailed charts and engaging activities.


What Is the Easiest Way to Memorize the Moon Phases?

Memorizing the moon phases can be easier and more enjoyable if you use a combination of visual aids, mnemonic devices, and hands-on activities.

Visual Learning Tools:

  • Moon Phase Chart: Use a detailed chart showing all the phases of the moon in order. Place it somewhere kids can see daily. (Use the freebie I am offering above for a chart).
  • Flashcards: Create flashcards with pictures of each phase and ask kids to arrange them in order. You can print some from my freebie.
  • Mnemonic Device: Create a simple phrase to help kids remember the order of the phases. For the sequence from new moon to full moon, you could use: “New, Crescent, First, Gibbous, Full” (NCFGF). For the sequence from full moon back to new, you could use: “Full, Gibbous, Last, Crescent, New” (FGLCN).
  • One way to remember that the moon “waxes” (increases) to full and “wanes” (decreases) after full is the mnemonic, “DOC.” This represents how the moon looks in the waxing crescent, full, and waning crescent phases and helps you recall that the visible part of the moon grows into a D shape, becomes a circle (O), and then shrinks into a C.

Visual Learning Tools for Learning the Moon Phases

Introducing children to the moon phases can be a fun experience, especially when you use visual aids. And there are a lot of tools out there to help you out.

For example, using printable moon phase charts, like the free one I provide, can really help. These charts display each phase of the moon in order, from the new moon to the full moon and back again.

It’s wonderful to see the spark of realization as kids begin to grasp that the moon isn’t changing its shape, it’s just the sunlight hitting it differently. Such visual tools not only teach but also inspire curiosity and spark further inquiry, which is the base of curiosity-led learning.

Some of the printable pages included in our Moon Unit Study (including art, Oreo cookies worksheet, posters, playing cards and more):
An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids

Interactive Moon Phase Simulators

Exploring the moon phases can be a lot of fun and make more sense, especially when you bring interactive moon phase simulators into the mix. These dynamic tools add a hands-on element to learning, letting kids (and adults too!) shift the moon’s position relative to the Earth and sun.

When children tweak the settings and see how the moon’s appearance changes right before their eyes, it really helps them grasp how the moon’s orbit affects its phases. This kind of real-time interaction makes those tricky space concepts a lot more relatable and easier to understand.

There are several cool tools and apps to help with this.

For instance, NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio offers an interactive where you can play around with the moon’s orbit and see the phases change.

Moon Phases NASA

For something more straightforward, the Phases of the Moon app is a hit on Google Play and the Apple App Store, perfect for tracking and predicting the moon’s changes.

If you’re into exploring lunar geography, check out MOON by Nasa. It’s an impressive Google-powered app that lets you roam around the moon in 3D and learn about significant lunar sites.

Moon geography by NASA

And for a broader perspective, the Earth, Sun and Moon simulator shows you how these celestial bodies align over time.

For those who love looking at things from different angles, Spacelab’s Moon Phases app shows how the moon looks from various places on Earth. It’s fascinating to see how the moon is illuminated differently depending on where you are.

Did you know that when observing the moon from the Equator, the phases might appear horizontally oriented? This means that during the first and last quarter phases, the line dividing the dark and light parts of the moon can run from horizon to horizon, rather than being vertical as it often appears when viewed from higher latitudes.

Spacelab's Moon Phases

And if you’re really keen to dive deep into moon science, Javalab and NASA’s Moon Interactives offer in-depth simulations.

For the younger crowd, PBS has a simpler simulator (PBS’s simulator ) that’s perfect for getting started.

DIY Moon Phase Crafts

Making moon phase crafts is a fun and engaging way to learn about the moon’s phases.

One favorite activity is using Oreo cookies along with the worksheet I’ve provided, which shows how to place the cookies to represent each phase. Each cookie acts as the moon, and kids can shape the cream to mimic the moon from the thin crescent of the new moon to the full circle of the full moon. This craft not only reinforces their understanding of each phase but also makes the learning process enjoyable and memorable.

For those interested in a more hands-on scientific experiment, you can try using a Styrofoam ball and a flashlight to explore how light and shadows create the moon’s phases. By shining the flashlight (representing the sun) on the ball and turning it slowly, children can watch the phases change, giving them a real-time illustration of what happens in the sky.

How To Make A Model Showing The Phases Of The Moon?

Creating a model to show the phases of the moon is a great hands-on way to help students or young learners visualize how the moon’s appearance changes due to its position relative to the Earth and Sun. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to make an effective moon phases model. There are multiple ways you can do this. For more ways check these cool videos:

Moon phases crafts

Materials Needed:

  • A Styrofoam ball (this represents the moon)
  • A large lamp or a flashlight (this is your sun)
  • A stick or skewer to hold your Styrofoam ball
  • A dark room to see the shadows clearly


  1. Prepare Your Moon: Attach the Styrofoam ball to the end of the skewer or stick. This setup allows the child to easily hold and maneuver the “moon.”
  2. Illuminate Your Sun: Turn on your lamp or flashlight and place it so that it shines continuously in one direction, representing the sun.
  3. Become the Earth: The child will act as the Earth. They should stand facing the sun (lamp or flashlight), holding the stick with the moon at arm’s length, ensuring it does not block the light from reaching the moon.
  4. Demonstrate the Moon Phases:
    • New Moon: Start with the moon (Styrofoam ball) between the sun and themselves. The sunlit part is facing away from them, so they see the dark side.
    • Waxing Crescent to Waxing Gibbous: As the child slowly turns to their right, they will see the moon gradually lighting up from a thin crescent to a gibbous.
    • Full Moon: When the moon is directly opposite the sun with the child (Earth) in between, the entire sunlit part of the moon is visible to them.
    • Waning Gibbous to Waning Crescent: Continuing to turn, the illumination decreases from a gibbous to a slim crescent before it returns to a new moon phase.
  5. Explore and Discuss: While moving the moon around themselves, the child can observe how the lighted part of the moon changes and discuss why these changes occur based on the moon’s position relative to the Earth and sun.
  6. Hands-on Learning: Encourage the child to use their free hand to mimic the moon’s phases by creating crescents and circles. This tactile element helps solidify their understanding of how shadows and light work together to create phases.
moon phases free flip book printable
Flip Book of the Moon Phases included in An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids (It’s FREE to download with the sample in this post)

Observational Activities

Combining observational activities with a practical tool for recording and reflecting, I’m offering a journal template that includes a cover and a calendar page to enrich the learning experience. Here’s how you can use these resources effectively:

  • Choose the Right Time and Place: Find a spot away from city lights for the clearest view. Use a moon calendar to pick the best evenings for observing changes like the crescent moon shifting to the gibbous moon, or even rare events like a lunar eclipse.
  • What to Look For: Encourage children to notice and discuss the different parts of the moon visible during each phase. Observe how its position relative to other celestial bodies changes throughout the night. Observations during a solar eclipse can be particularly educational.

Keeping a Moon Journal

To turn observations into a comprehensive learning tool, I’m providing a free printable moon journal template, which includes a cover and a calendar page. The journal is designed to help students, especially middle schoolers, document their nightly observations. It includes spaces for the date, time, moon phase, and additional observations about the night sky.

Younger children can draw the moon’s appearance during different phases, while older students can write more detailed observations and scientific explanations, enhancing their reading comprehension and observational skills.

Creating a Moon Phase Calendar

This fun learning project helps solidify knowledge about the moon’s cycle:

  • Materials Needed: You’ll need a large poster board, moon phase stickers (you can use the moon phase cards and print them on sticker paper, then cut out the illustrations for this), and markers to create a DIY interactive display.
  • Monthly Tracking: Children can use the moon diagram from the journal’s calendar page to update their personal moon phase calendar daily. This not only helps track the moon’s phases but also visually reinforces its cyclical nature.
moon unit study for middle school
Worksheets with activities and comprehension questions included in the
An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids

Why Stop at The Moon? Astronomy Apps For Kids

Exploring the universe can be a thrilling adventure for kids, especially with the right apps to guide their journey. Here are some fantastic astronomy apps designed to make learning about space fun and interactive for young explorers:

  • Solar Walk 2 – Spacecraft 3D & Space Exploration – A stunning 3D model of the solar system that teaches kids about the planets and spacecraft exploring them. The app includes interactive models of spacecraft and celestial events.
  • Universe in a Nutshell – The app allows users to zoom in and out through different scales of the universe, exploring everything from quantum particles up to vast galactic clusters. It’s an interactive way to visualize and understand the size of different objects in the universe relative to each other.
  • Tinybop’s “The Solar System” – The app features a detailed and interactive model of the solar system where children can explore the planets, moons, and other celestial objects. Users can zoom in to see the surface of each planet and moon, learning about their features, atmospheres, and more.
  • Solar System for iPad – beautiful interactive book with a lot of information.

An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids (full printable) 🌕 🌖 🌗 🌘 🌑 🌒 🌓 🌔

Does your child’s curiosity about the moon stretch way beyond lunar phases?

When Marc began his relentless quest for knowledge about the moon—from its formation to its profound effects on Earth—I knew we needed something special to channel that curiosity into a deep, enriching learning journey. That’s when An In-depth Unit Study of the Moon for Very Curious Kids was born.

[The photos you see throughout this post are all with pieces of this massive 200-page printable]

What Makes This Printable Special?

This isn’t just any educational material but a meticulously crafted 200-page printable designed specifically for bright, inquisitive young minds in grades 3-8. For children like Marc, who thirst for knowledge and aren’t satisfied with simple answers, this guide is the perfect launchpad to dive deeper.

Here’s what makes our moon unit study absolutely irresistible:

  • Embedded Video Links: These carefully selected videos are included with every major section of the printable. I added only the best videos I could find on the theme, but there’s also space for you to add your own links, favorite books, and other respurces!
  • Fascinating Facts: I included a lot of interesting facts about the moon from its influence on our tides, its role in ancient myths, and more. And each informational section comes with worksheets to match it and test kids’ understanding and comprehension.
  • Inspirational Poems and Artwork: I made sure to include language arts and art in this moon unit study! I included 4 poems and their analysis as well as 46 art printables so kids can choose their favorites and some tips on critiquing art and Moon art activity ideas.
  • Hands-On Learning: Knowing that kids like Marc absorb knowledge best through active engagement, I’ve also added some interactive projects.

Marc’s fascination with the moon has not only taught him about astronomy but also about the patience and depth of study required to truly understand a subject.

This guide is crafted for all young explorers who are ready to take their curiosity about the moon to the next level.

Ten Fun Moon-Related Activities

Hands-on learning remains a crucial educational approach, even as students grow older. In this section, we introduce a variety of moon-related activities that encourage active participation from elementary to middle school levels. These projects are designed not only to teach about the moon’s phases and features but also to cultivate skills like observation, prediction, and scientific reasoning.

By engaging in activities ranging from simple cookie-based moon phase modeling for younger learners to constructing DIY telescopes for middle schoolers, students of all ages can experience the tangible benefits of experiential learning. This method promotes a deeper understanding and retention of scientific concepts, making the abstract notions of astronomy more concrete and relatable.

For Lower Elementary Students (Grades 1-3)

  1. Moon Phases with Oreos: Use Oreo cookies to teach the different phases of the moon (included worksheet in the printable). Children twist apart the cookies and scrape the cream to match the shapes of the moon phases, from new moon to full moon.
  2. Moon Crater Craft: Create moon craters using flour and dropping different sized pebbles or marbles into it. This visually demonstrates how meteorites create craters on the moon’s surface.
  3. Moon Phase Matching Game: Make a set of moon phase cards (from my free printable) and have children match pictures of moon phases with their correct names. This simple memory game reinforces their understanding of each phase.
  4. Moon Phase Calendar: Kids can keep a lunar diary over a month, drawing the appearance of the moon each night. This helps them observe the cycle of the moon firsthand. You have a template for this in the free printable.
  5. Make a Moon Phase Flip Book: Print the free flip book and have fun!

Moon Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students (Grades 4-8)

  1. Interactive Moon Phase Simulator: Use online tools or apps to simulate the moon’s phases, allowing students to manipulate the moon’s position relative to Earth and the sun to see how phases change.
  2. Scale Model of the Moon and Earth: Create a scale model using balls of different sizes to represent the moon and Earth. This helps students visualize the size and distance between these two celestial bodies.
  3. Moon Phase Predictions: After observing the moon phases for a few weeks, challenge students to predict the next phases and their timings, enhancing their analytical and observational skills.
  4. DIY Telescope: Construct a simple telescope using lenses and cardboard tubes. Use it to observe the moon, noting features such as craters and maria.
  5. Lunar Surface Relief Maps: Molding the Moon’s Geography: In this activity, students get a hands-on opportunity to create their own three-dimensional relief maps of the moon’s surface. After studying the topographic features of the moon, including its craters, mountains, and valleys, students use materials like clay, papier-mâché, or even salt dough to sculpt these features. This project not only helps students visualize and understand the moon’s geography but also encourages them to engage with the tactile learning process. As they mold the moon’s surface, they’ll need to consider scale and spatial relationships between different geographical landmarks.

Nurturing Curiosity Through Exploration

Exploring the moon’s mysteries with your kids is an opportunity to ignite their curiosity and deepen their appreciation for the natural world. Throughout this article, we’ve explored how to teach the basic concepts of the moon’s phases and more complex topics like lunar geography and solar eclipses.

Whether your children are crafting with Oreos to learn the moon’s phases or building their own telescopes to get a closer look at its craters, each activity is designed to encouragw a deeper connection with the wonders of astronomy.

As you use these resources and engage in each activity, you’re not just answering their questions—you’re encouraging them to keep asking, exploring, and wondering. And in the end, that enduring sense of wonder is perhaps the most precious gift we can offer our young learners.

Thank you for joining me in this lunar learning adventure. I hope these activities and insights enrich your teaching and inspire your kids. Let me know if you tried my printables and if you liked them.

What is the easiest way to memorize the Moon phases?

To make memorizing moon phases easy and fun use visual aids like a detailed moon phase chart and flashcards (available as free printables below). Additionally, mnemonic devices like “New, Crescent, First, Gibbous, Full” for waxing phases and “Full, Gibbous, Last, Crescent, New” for waning phases can be very helpful.

How do you teach the moon phases?

Teaching moon phases effectively involves a combination of visual aids, hands-on activities, and conceptual explanations. You can also use simulators, apps, and videos to reinforce the concepts.

Concept Introduction: Explain the moon’s orbit, positions relative to Earth and Sun, and how these factors influence its visible phases.
Visual Aids: Use moon phase charts and online simulations for a clear visual representation.
Hands-on Activities: Engage students with fun projects like Oreo Moon Phases or Moon Phase Wheels (free printable included) to physically demonstrate the phases.
Observational Tasks: Encourage nightly moon observations and document changes in a moon journal.
Interactive Learning: Utilize educational apps and role-playing to show the moon’s position changes and its effects.
Discussion and Projects: Foster discussions on moon phase impacts and assess understanding through creative projects and quizzes.

What are the 4 major moon phases?

The four major moon phases are key points in the lunar cycle, each representing a different position of the moon in relation to the Earth and Sun. Here are the phases:
New Moon: During the new moon, the moon is located between the Earth and the sun. The side of the moon that faces the Earth is in shadow, making it completely invisible to observers on Earth.
First Quarter: At the first quarter phase, the moon is 90 degrees away from the sun in its orbit and half of the moon’s surface that faces Earth is illuminated. This is sometimes referred to as a “half moon.”
Full Moon: The full moon occurs when the Earth is between the sun and the moon. This alignment allows the sun’s rays to fully illuminate the moon’s surface that faces Earth, making the moon appear fully lit.
Last Quarter: Also known as the third quarter, this phase happens when the moon has moved another quarter of the way around Earth, relative to the full moon. Like the first quarter, half of the moon’s surface that faces Earth is illuminated, but this time it is the opposite side.

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