Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 65 - Moon Phase Patterns and Morning Meeting Calendar - Sean Musselman, Burlington Science Center

This post originally appeared on Mr. Musselman's Blog

I visit lots of elementary classrooms over the course of a year. Often I find myself checking out the "Pattern Calendar," a daily part of the classroom's morning meeting where students or the teacher add the date to the calendar and the next portion of a pattern sequence that reveals itself over the course of a few days, weeks, or even the month. I love these calendars as they support students pattern recognition, an important skill when practicing scientific investigations while supporting the classroom's math curriculum be it a numerical or geometric pattern.

Moon phase pattern card prototype: Too much coloring by hand and the numbers not always desired!

 But why not use a pattern or cycle we see in the natural world as the pattern of the month? One of the most obvious patterns we see over the course of a month in nature is the lunar or moon cycle. Unfortunately, when I explored the internet for an easily replicable resource to create just that I was sorely disappointed. Many lunar calendars available are like the one below, which at first glance seem just fine, except in my opinion they carry the well documented misconception that the moon is always visible at night!

Wikipedia: Moon phase calendar May2005.jpg
Unsatisfied with what I found, I took to creating my own set of moon phase calendar place cards that can be easily printed, cut, and used on most hanging pattern calendars available commercially. Teachers have the choice of cutting the names of the phases off or including them in the pattern set. More importantly, the backgrounds of each moon phase represent the time of day the moon would be found high in the sky. There is an equal amount of daylight and night time moon phases along with six "twilight" moon phases representing the transition between night and day. The inclusion of these colors can extend questions and conversation around when the moon is visible and whether or not the moon is in the same place in the sky at the same time everyday.

Samples of two of the five cut out pages available below!

The calendar is by no means perfect as what the moon looks like from Earth is dependent on your latitude, but for elementary level space science exploration they will support a teacher's needs just fine! Adding numbers to each phase would also be an optional touch and an opportunity for students to predict how many days in a full lunar cycle (29.5 - therefore 30 cards provided no repeats!)

Download the complete cut-out set here for your classroom, no cost to users except for the blue and black ink!

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