When people look at the Moon, they often describe it as passing through one of eight phases. The phases occur in a cycle that lasts about a month. The word “month” actually came from the word “Moon,” and was at one time pronounced “moonth.”
Share a chart of lunar phases with the children.
Provide the children (individually or in small groups) with the song lyrics and invite them to sing the song to describe the eight different Moon phases. Have the children learn one verse of the song at a time, perhaps over several days, and point to each phase as they are describing it in the song.
See “Fruit for Phases” as a follow-up activity to explore the cause of lunar phases.
Phrases with Phases
Lyrics by Becky Nelson, Lunar and Planetary Institute
Sung to the tune The Ants Go Marching . . Moon phases and important terms are shown in capital letters.
Each Moon phase marches COUNTERCLOCKWISE —
Now, let's start . . .
The FIRST PHASE is the NEW MOON that we see as DARK.
Then next the WAXING CRESCENT shines
A LITTLE LIGHT upon the RIGHT,
And after that's the
QUARTER MOON, where the
RIGHT HALF'S LIGHT.
Following is WAXING GIBBOUS on the RIGHT,
Where the LIGHT continues SPREADING and becoming bright.
We'll be HALFWAY through the phases soon,
With the FULLest, brightest, biggest MOON,
Just before the DARK creeps
On the RIGHT
Of a WANING MOON.
The WANING GIBBOUS phase is when the LIGHT will SHRINK,
Then what will be the next phase after that, you think?
It's once AGAIN a QUARTER MOON,
But the DARK HALF's now upon the RIGHT,
And the LEFT side is the
One's that's BRIGHT!!
Did you get that right?
The next phase is the LAST phase where there's just a spark
Of light, so WANING CRESCENT appears ALMOST DARK!
The Moon is really magical,
When it's WAXING, WANING, NEW OR FULL.
And it COULDN'T SHINE at all
THE SUN'S ......bright light!!
Connections to the National Science Standard(s)
Standard D (grades K–4): Understand the pattern of movement of the Moon across the sky, as well as the observable cycle of changes in the Moon's shape within a month.Standard D (grades 5–8): Understand the scientific explanation of how objects in the solar system have regular and predictable motion that explains such phenomena as phases of the Moon and eclipses.