The ancients studied the phases of the moon to better understand the cycles and mechanics of the world, which still govern the world today. But in these modern times, you may not take the time to really notice how the moon affects your life or the lives of your children. However, you can send your kids to the moon with all of the information they will learn when you put together a few moon-related activities.
Children learn quickly when you turn lessons into art projects, so use this to your advantage by putting together a phases of the moon craft. Your little one can use a circle stencil to trace and cut out a full moon from white construction paper. Cut out six more circles, trimming them to create a waxing crescent, a waxing gibbous, a first quarter, a waning crescent, a waning gibbous and a third quarter. Show your child how to glue the phases of the moon into a circle on a large sheet of black construction paper, leaving the space opposite from the full moon blank to represent the new moon. You don't have to use paper and glue to make a phases of the moon craft; you can also use salt dough or oil clay. Have your child roll a piece of white or light blue dough or clay into a ball to represent the full moon, and create six more balls like the first. Cut out pieces from the last six balls to form the different phases of the moon. Once finished, help your little one form the phases of the moon into a circle on a table top.
Is your toddler or preschooler confused about why the moon looks different at different times of the month? Many grown-ups are confused about this as well! Instead of trying to explain it, show your little ones how this happens with simple science experiments. Cut out a circle from construction paper and shine a flashlight directly on a wall. Explain that the light on the wall is the moon, then slide the paper circle slowly in front of the flashlight. This will cut off part of the "moon" to create the different phases of the moon. You can also do a similar type of experiment using any type of light source and a circular or spherical object, such as a lamp and a toy ball or a candle and a ball of clay.
People have been watching the moon for thousands of years, so go ahead and take your toddlers and preschoolers outside to do the same. Set aside time every week to look at the moon with your children. Every time you observe the moon, talk about what changes you both see in the shape and size of the moon. Obviously, some nights will be cloudy and the moon will be invisible, but if you go out to look at the moon at least twice per week with your children, you will see the different phases. You could even encourage your little ones to draw what the moon looks like in a phases of the moon journal to track the changes they see.
Moon Songs and Games
Don't let learning about the moon become boring for your little ones. Celebrate the phases of the moon with your children through fun songs and games. You can stick with a few popular moon songs for children or make up your own. A couple of popular songs about the phases of the moon include "Phases of the Moon Rap," by Mr. Lee or "Phases of the Moon," by Brookside Elementary School. You can also play a game that helps children better identify the moon phases. Play "Guess the Phase," where each child picks out a phase of the moon, then answers questions about the shape and size of the moon so that the others can guess which phase it is.