Sun and Moon

Try This At Home

Phases of the Moon

You Will Need

  • A small ball
  • A torch

What to Do

  1. Do this activity in a darkened room. The ball will be the Moon, the torch will be the Sun and your child will be the Earth.
  2. The child holds the ball at arm’s length in front of them as the adult shines the torch on the ball.
  3. Start with the adult shining the torch on the ball from over the child’s head or shoulder. From the child’s perspective the torch will light up the whole ball – this represents a full moon.
  4. The Moon revolves around the Earth. Ask your child to slowly turn 1/4 of a circle towards the torch. To the child half the ball should appear lit – this represents a half moon.
  5. Ask your child to turn around another 1/4 of a circle so they are facing the torch. The ball should be unlit from the child’s perspective – this represents a new moon.

What’s happening?

As the Moon revolves around the Earth, different proportions of the Moon are in light and shadow at various times. From Earth’s perspective we can only see the lit up portions of the Moon, not the parts in shadow. That is why the shape of the Moon appears to change each night.

Discover More

Look at the Moon tonight. What shape is it? Watch as it changes a little bit ever y night. You can buy a phase of the Moon calendar or even keep your own Moon diary!