4th Grade Moon Phases Integrated Lesson

Essential Question:

How do the moon phases look different based on the position of the Sun and Earth?

Math Standard:

4.NF.B.3 Understand a fraction a/b with a > 1 as a sum of fractions 1/b.

Science Standard:

GLE 0407.6.1 Analyze patterns, relative movements, and relationships among the sun, moon, and earth.
CFU 0407.6.2 Sequence the major phases of the moon during a lunar cycle.



TTW continue teaching moon phases with students. (TSW already have been introduced to moon phase names and pictures.) TSW complete moon phase stations with teacher created groups. Give students 8-12 minutes per station. When students have completed all rotations, go over: sort answers; placement answers; and the position of the sun, moon, and Earth and how that affects what we see.

Station 1:

Moon Phases Sort – TSW put moon phase picture cards in their correct sequence. TSW label moon phases with name cards. Partners will check each others’ answers with answer key. Switch roles.

Station 2:

Moon Phases Board – TSW become the Earth. TSW place their head in the moon phase board and their partner will rotate the board. TSW inside will tell their partner which phase they are looking at. The partner will tell the student if they are correct and move to another phase. If they are wrong, the partners will talk about why it is not that phase and try again.

Station 3:

Moon Phases Placement – This is an independent station. TSW locate the moon in the position and draw the phase correctly on their answer page.

Station 4:

Moon Phases Math – Teacher led, TTW guide students through discussion about the length of one year being 365 ¼ days. TTW talk to students about this being called a mixed number. TTW have students determine how many years it will take to reach one whole day. 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 +1/4 = 4/4 or one whole day.
TTW discuss every four years there is a day added to the calendar in February and this is called leap year. (Have a calendar to show students.)
TTW guide students through looking at full, new, first and last quarter moon phase pictures. TTW discuss what fraction of the moon is lit. (Full moon 1/2, new moon 0, first and last quarter ¼.) Discuss the moon being a 3-D shape. TTW show students a ball, discuss only seeing ½ on the moon at a time. TTW shine a flashlight on the ball, discuss when we see a quarter moon. This is ½ of ½ of the moon ½ x ½ = 1/4. TTW relate ¼ to quarters in a dollar.

Math Extension:

TTW guide students through the moon’s revolution around Earth using 8ths. TTW discuss the waxing crescent being 1/8 around the Earth. First Quarter is 2/8, which is equivalent to ¼. Waxing gibbous is 3/8 and full moon is 4/8, which is equivalent to ½. Waning gibbous is 5/8; and third (last quarter) is 6/8, which is equivalent to ¾. Waning crescent is 7/8; and new moon is 8/8, which is equivalent to 1 (the moon has made one full revolution.)
TTW decompose each fraction as they are discussed.
Ex: Show 5/8 = 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8

Activity Materials:

moon phases board, moon phases sort cards, labels and answer key, moon phases position board and answer page, leap year calendar, year calendar, flashlight, ball

Math Connection:

Determining fractions of the lit part of the moon.
Analyzing why there is a leap year.
Calculating moon phase word problems.

Downloadable Resources

Source: Teacher Created STEM Summer Training 4th Grade 2015