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The moon has a round face

Posted on September 9th, 2020 in Quirky curious, STEM gems
moon phases


My Dad taught us this game. It’s a common campfire game and it’s annoying. I like to use it to spark a conversation about the Moon and its attributes. AND it’s a great way of discovering the children’s prior knowledge.


A stick or pen

How to start

To play the game, tell the children to copy you exactly. Draw a round face, and as you do so say, “The Moon has a round face, two eyes, a nose and a mouth.” Then, pass the stick from your right hand to your left before passing it on. OR, for a slightly easier version, you could nod while you are drawing. The children not only have to draw a face but also notice how you pass the pen on (or nod at the same time). I love this easy activity because it is great for starting a conversation about whether the Moon does have a round face. Sometimes we see a full Moon, sometimes not. It can even appear during the day. Have the children noticed the Moon coming out in the day? At night? Do they know why the Moon changes shape? Does the Moon glow by itself? And if so, what powers it? How is it lit up? Does the Moon look like a face? Many investigations, conversations and ideas can spring from this simple game!

Waxing gibbous moon
Waxing gibbous moon
Waning crescent Moon
Waning crescent Moon
Moon phases
Moon phases

What’s the STEM?

The Moon shines at night because it reflects the Sun’s rays. It can look quite bright even though it reflects only about 8% of the sunlight that hits it. The Moon waxes and wanes because the Earth causes a shadow on the Moon’s surface. You can try to demonstrate this with a torch and a couple of balls but it’s quite hard to get the right angles and distances and it takes two of you so I would suggest some practice before you show the children!

Observations, conclusions and extensions

This could lead anywhere! Paintings and planets – what is the difference between a moon and a planet? (Hint: One goes around the other!). Stars and stories – the Moon is a wonderfully rich subject for investigating other cultures. Moon exploration is one that caught everyone’s imaginations around here. Dramatic play, Moon walking and pretending to walk on the Moon ourselves. Designing a city on the Moon and investigating gravity. The possibilities are endless.

STEM language

Use your explorations to introduce this STEM vocabulary to the children:
full Moon, waxing, waning, gibbous, crescent.

About the author:
HAYLEY BATES, National Certifications Coordinator

Hayley Bates

Hayley has an insatiable thirst for learning – about everything! Her sheer joy of discovery and passion for professional development makes her the perfect person to run the Little Scientist’s House Certification program.

Never happier than seeing what happens to balloons in the freezer or exploring the projects submitted by services for certification, her enthusiasm is complemented by her background in science and maths making her the ideal coordinator for our Little Scientists Houses.

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