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Activity Overview

The phases of the Moon are caused by the motion of the Moon around the Earth relative to the Sun. As the Moon moves around the Earth, parts of it are illuminated and others are in shadows. The Moon takes 28 days to make a full orbit of the Earth, and during this time, the Moon looks different from Earth depending on its position. In this activity, students will create a model to explain each of the phases of the Moon using a grid storyboard.

Phases of the Moon

  1. New Moon
  2. Waxing Crescent
  3. First Quarter
  4. Waxing Gibbous
  5. Full Moon
  6. Waning Gibbous
  7. Last Quarter
  8. Waning Crescent

Note: The moon appears different in the sky depending on the hemisphere. The example storyboard shows both Northern and Southern Hemispheres, but the activity template and instructions only call for one hemisphere.

As an alternate layout, students may want to use the timeline layout to show the sequence of moon phases. After completing this activity, there is a great opportunity for students to evaluate their models. Lead students through pointing out the strengths and limitations of the models by giving them an opportunity to make suggestions for improvements.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Group

Common Core Standards
  • [SCI-MS-ESS1-1] Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a grid that explains the different phases of the Moon by relating the position of the Moon to the Earth and Sun.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Write the names of the different phases of the Moon as the titles of the rows.
  3. In the first column, use the Moon diagram to show the position of the Moon or each phase. You can find the Moon diagram under the Science tab. Be sure to add the Sun.
  4. In the next column, use the smart Moon item to show what the Moon would look from Earth for each stage.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

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