K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

Important Announcement about Online Courses and LEARN NC.

Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

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Related pages

  • The Earth rotates through days: The students will be a part of a model showing how the Earth's rotation creates what we see as a sunrise and sunset every twenty-four hours.
  • Astronomy: Spark students' interest in outer space with this collection of great astronomy websites found in LEARN NC's Best of the Web.
  • Rocky Mount Children's Museum and Science Center: Students will love visiting the Rocky Mount Children's Museum and Science Center. The exhibits are fun, hands-on, and engaging.

Related topics


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • Recognize that the moon does not actually change shape, but goes through phases that form a pattern.
  • Learn that the amount of moon one can see each night depends on where the moon is in its orbit around the Earth.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes



  • Students observe the moon for two weeks.
  • Students draw moon on the Moonwatch Activity Sheet each night for fourteen days.


  1. In a darkened room, the teacher will set up models of the sun, moon, and Earth.
  2. Moving the moon model slowly in a circle around the Earth, the teacher will instruct the students to draw the moon as it would be seen from Earth.
  3. Refer back to data collected on the Moonwatch Activity Sheet and pinpoint dates when the moon looks as it did in each point in this activity.
  4. Discuss and answer Moonwatch Questions.


  • Completed activity sheets.
  • Verbal answers to questions.

Supplemental information

When collecting data on the Moonwatch Activity Sheet, it may be necessary for the students to infer what the moon actually looks like on any certain night, as some nights may be cloudy and the students may be unable to see the moon that night.


This lesson may be adapted to include the creation of bar or pie graphs as a part of a math lesson.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • 3.E.1 Recognize the major components and patterns observed in the earth/moon/sun system. 3.E.1.1 Recognize that the earth is part of a system called the solar system that includes the sun (a star), planets, and many moons and the earth is the third planet...
      • Grade 4

        • 4.E.1 Explain the causes of day and night and phases of the moon. 4.E.1.1 Explain the cause of day and night based on the rotation of Earth on its axis. 4.E.1.2 Explain the monthly changes in the appearance of the moon, based on the moon’s orbit around the...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 3

  • Goal 3: The learner will make observations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the earth/moon/sun system.
    • Objective 3.02: Observe that objects in the sky have patterns of movement including:
      • Sun.
      • Moon.
      • Stars.