As the Moon Turns - A Puppet Show
In this 60 minute “Launch” activity, children ages 5–11 learn about the formation and history of our Moon and how NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission will help us return. Children make puppets and then listen to — or present — a puppet show.
What's the Point?
- Our Moon formed from the materials created when a large asteroid struck Earth.
- The Moon’s surface has been shaped by different geological processes — asteroid impacts and volcanism.
- The lunar environment is not hospitable for humans. There is no atmosphere to breathe or protect humans from solar radiation, and temperatures are extremely hot or extremely cold.
- NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Mission to the Moon in 2008 will map the lunar surface and its resources in detail and will gather information about the lunar environment. This will help scientists and engineers better understand our Moon’s history and plan for a lunar outpost.
For each child:
- Heavy paper plate
- Moon face on card stock
- Moon “accessories” (hats, bandanna, jewelry, etc.) on card stock
- Craft items such as glitter, pom-poms, google eyes, yarn, construction paper
- Crayons, colored pencils, paints, or colored markers
- Masking tape and scotch tape
- Ruler or paint-stir stick
- Elastic strap for masks (optional)
For the group:
- One Luna Puppet
- One Moona Lisa Puppet
- Story script
- Puppet stage (optional)
- Cue cards for the audience (optional); see “Preparation”
- Two goofy, uninhibited adults or older children to play the parts of Luna and Moona Lisa
For the facilitator:
- The activity can be a combination of activities and puppet show scenes as indicated in the script. One sequence could be:
- The story is written as a dialogue between two characters. Invite other adults or older children to play the parts. Have them review the story, and make any changes needed depending on the activities you select to accompany the show. Temperatures are listed in Fahrenheit. Bold sections are the responses for later reference when the children play the Moon Pie game.
- During the puppet show, Moona Lisa continually uses the phrase, “And when I say (for example) LONG, I mean _ _ _ _ (LONG)!” Invite the children to fill in the second blank and to respond to the other questions Moona Lisa may ask. Encourage them to be as loud and boisterous as they want!
- As an option, que cards can be created on card stock for Moona Lisa’s dialog. Each word should be on a separate card (LONG! HUGE! RIGHT QUICK! HOT! LONG! COLD!) Invite an adult or older child to prompt the audience with the cue cards at the appropriate time in the story.
1. Invite the children to create their very own Moon puppet or Moon Mask. Have them cut out the Moon template and attach it to the paper plate. Have them create a face on the Moon using the craft items and the lunar “accessories” they select. They can make their own accessories, too!
If they make a mask, follow the same procedure, but begin by cutting eyes and a mouth on the Moon face and paper plate that matches where the child’s eyes and mouth are.
To make a handle for their puppet, have each child attach a ruler or paint stick to the back of the paper plate using masking tape. For a mask, attach elastic string to the sides of the plate, forming a band that can go around the child’s head.
2. Invite the children to gather around for a story about how the Moon formed. Share that NASA will be sending a spacecraft — the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter — to orbit the Moon in 2008. This spacecraft will collect information that will help scientists and engineers learn more about how our Moon formed and has changed, and the best place to build a future lunar outpost. The special instruments onboard will help NASA learn more about the lunar environment, map where resources are, and take very detailed pictures of the surface. Exciting? You bet!
Share the story of Luna, a lunar meteorite and Moona Lisa, the Moon.
3. Review with the children what they learned about our Moon from the puppet show.
- How did our Moon form? A large, planet-sized body struck Earth, vaporizing the impactor and hurtling pieces of the impactor and Earth’s outer surface into orbit around Earth. Those pieces eventually clumped together — accreted — to form our Moon.
- How are craters on the Moon formed? Craters are formed when asteroids or comets strike the Moon. Most of the larger craters formed early in the Moon’s history, until about 3.9 billion years ago; however the Moon and other planetary bodies still are hit by asteroids and comets occasionally.
- What important resource may comets deliver to the Moon when they strike? Ice; comets contain water ice.
- Why would ice from comets not melt? If it is in the deep craters, or in the polar regions, where the Sun’s heat does not reach it, it could stay frozen.
- How did the Moon’s dark patches form? Some craters were later filled by lava that cooled to form smooth, dark areas on the Moon. These dark areas are called “seas” — or mare — but they never had water in them!
- What is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter? What will it orbit and for how long? The LRO is a NASA spacecraft that will orbit the Moon for about a year.
- What kinds of information will the LRO collect for scientists? Measurements of temperature and radiation from the Sun, maps of resources like types of rocks and water ice, maps and pictures of the lunar surface and its features..
- Why does NASA want to collect more information about the Moon? NASA plans to send humans to the Moon for extended stays at Lunar Outposts around 2018. LRO will provide important information about where certain resources — like water ice and elements in rocks — exist, where the surface is safe for landing and building, and where scientific questions about the Moon’s formation and changes can best be studied. All of these activities will prepare future astronauts — the children in your program! — to explore Mars and beyond.
Invite the children to share their favorite part of the Moona Lisa’s story. Do any of them want to visit the future lunar colonies on the Moon?
August 31, 2009