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The moon has a round face

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*

*as seen from the Northern hemisphere

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 we cannot always see the entire surface that is lit up by sunlight. We explain the phases of the Moon in more detail in this article, which also gives you an idea of how to explore the phenomenon further with 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.

Hayley Bates
Article author: Hayley Bates
National Certifications Coordinator

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.

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