Education and
Public Engagement
at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Explore! Marvel Moon

Grown-up Moon: What Do You See in Today's Moon?

Adapted from What Do You See in the Moon?, Family Space Day – Moon, Lunar and Planetary Institute.


Children use their imaginations to discover an object or character in the Moon! They first read or listen to a cultural story describing a shape identified in the Moon's surface features. Then, they consider how the features formed over the Moon's 4.5-billion-year history and investigate Earth rocks that are similar. Children may examine the types of Earth rocks (named anorthosite, basalt, and breccia) that are also found on the Moon and that would have been shaped by the processes explored here. Finally, they draw their own object or character that they see when they look at the Moon.

What's the Point?


The following materials are for one What Do You See in the Moon? activity set and will serve approximately 10 children working in teams of two to three.

MyMoon: World Tales of the Moon
This site offers links to several stories from across the globe, including "Rabbit on the Moon" (Mexico), "Drummer on the Moon" (Ivory Coast), "Tears on the Moon" (Algeria), "Rabbit and Frog on the Moon" (China), and "Boy on the Moon" (North America).

Hina Moves to the Moon: A Hawaiian Story about Our Moon

For each child:

For the facilitator:



Described in the children's guide.


The children may recognize their own patterns in the Moon or they may identify those described in cultural stories. By comparing fun shapes and personal stories to the actual topographical features in the Moon, they should recognize that the Moon has a science story to tell, as well. Younger children should be able to recognize that the large dark circles are maria or "seas" after their mistaken identification by early astronomers.

A Little Background for the Facilitator

Many cultures through time have developed stories about the features they observed on our Moon. One is the story that rabbits live on the Moon with a Katsura tree. Some people see an outline of a rabbit on the Moon, others see a dog, and still others see a man in the Moon, a crab, a lady knitting or reading a book, a man resting under a tree, a frog, a lizard...

The Moon is covered with light and dark areas. The light colored areas are the oldest part of the Moon's surface — they have many craters and are called the "cratered highlands." This part of the Moon's crust formed from a cooling magma ocean soon after the Moon formed 4.5 billion years ago! The basins were formed by BIG impacts early in the Moon's history. Later, lava filled these basins and cooled. The dark-colored plains (maria) we see are made of a fine-grained, dark, volcanic rock called basalt — the same rock type as found on Earth's ocean floors and the same type that makes up the islands of Hawaii.