Phases of the Moon Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Jennifer Smith

Jenn has been an educator for 10 years. She has a master's degree in Teacher Leadership and a bachelors degree in Elementary Education and English Language Acquisition.

The way the moon looks in the sky changes on a nightly basis, these are called moon phases. This lesson plan will help students understand the moon phases with whole group discussion, centers with hands on activities.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • identify what the moon phases are and why they occur
  • determine what effects the moon phases have on planet Earth


30-60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.


Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.


  • illuminated
  • moon phases
  • new moon
  • waxing crescent moon
  • first quarter moon
  • waxing gibbous
  • full moon
  • waning gibbous
  • third quarter moon
  • last quarter
  • waning crescent



  • The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • posters of all of the moon phases

Start with a whole group discussion about what the students know about the moon. Write down all of the students' thoughts. Introduce The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons, read through the book as a whole group. Stopping and noting some of the vocabulary that is introduced. Next, have a few students volunteer and move into the order of the correct phase order. Then review the names and the class, collect the cards and mix them up and repeat with different students. Finally, use the lesson Phases of the Moon: Lesson for Kids to review the new material. As a class complete the quiz that goes with the lesson.


Flash cards


  • 1 pack of flash cards per student that have the moon phases and names on each card


Students have their flash cards and race against each other to correctly put them into order. Then see who is the ultimate moon phase orderer.

Oreo Phases


  • 4 oreos per student
  • 1 paper plate per student
  • Coloring utensil
  • Glue


This is easiest done with the whole class and one step at a time.

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