Phases of the Moon

One of the big science standards for 5th and 6th grade is knowing how the phases of the moon occur.  I always bring in a lamp and have the kids stand in a big circle around the room.  I try to get it as dark as I can make it, to get the best effect.

The students all have styrofoam balls that they stick to the end of their pencil. Their head is the Earth and the styrofoam is the Moon.  As they rotate around in their spot the phases of the moon appear on the styrofoam.

New Moon
Full Moon

1st Quarter

How do you teach phases of the moon?  Share what has worked in your classroom.


  1. I've done this before with one student as a demonstration, but I love the idea of getting every student up and learning. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. I taught middle school math for years and then they moved the 6th grade to the elem. Suddenly I was teaching all subjects, so I went to a number of science trainings. This was an activity that we did that stuck with me. I'm sure I was taught what causes the phases of the moon, but it really made sense to me after doing this. For that reason, I do this activity with them.