Astronomy Unit: The Moon (Day 1)

The moon is very far away (225,622 miles to 252,088 miles depending on its position in its elliptical orbit around the Earth). NASA had to be very careful about the calculations they made to send someone to the moon especially since the moon is a moving target.  In this activity, the kids are trying to hit the moon (a nut suspended on a string) that is swinging back and forth. They found it very difficult to hit the moving target!

We set up a bright lamp (our sun) and DD is moving the ping-pong ball around the earth (orange).  Meanwhile LD is slowly moving the earth/orange around the sun/lamp.

 Objects appear larger, the closer they are to you:

In this activity we showed that our hand can block out the entire wall on the other side of the room from top to bottom even though our hand is much smaller than the wall itself. This is what the moon does when it blocks out the sun in an eclipse.  The moon is smaller, but closer to Earth.
Now the kids are blocking out the orange with the smaller ping-pong ball.
The umbra and penumbra: We set an orange under our bright light and looked at the shadow.  There was a darker shadow (umbra) and a lighter shadow (penumbra).  Then we took turns showing where the penumbra starts (the pencil is not actually touching the orange, but in the picture it looks like it is). Then below we took notes for our science notebook (below is mine)…
We drew pictures of the sun and showed how there was a small area where light got through with a bit of light (penumbra) and only a small portion where the sunlight couldn’t pass at all (umbra).

For the first part of our unit (when we talked about gravity) we used.  Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2  (affliliate link) by Bernard J. Nebel

We got some of our ideas for our astronomy unit from Janice VanCleave’s Astronomy for Every Kid (affiliate link). I love her books!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.


You may be interested in the posts in this series:

You might also be interested in these related posts (we did these when my kids were older… ie. elementary):


8 Responses

  1. nicole says:

    Did you get your hands on and demonstration ideas from a particular book? I’d love to get more information as we are doing a unit on the moon(and soon the sun, stars, and planets) right now!

    • homeschooldenadmin says:

      Hi Nicole,
      It has been so long, I can’t remember exactly what we used. I know we used Janice VanCleave’s Astronomy for Every Kid. Her books are full of amazing ideas! I’m sure we used a couple of others too, but can’t remember off the top of my mind at the moment. If I think of any, I’ll add those to the post. ~Liesl

  2. Nicole says:

    Thank you! Love your site, so helpful for hands on, unit studies, and eclectic homeschooling. :). I appreciate all your work and posting.

    • homeschooldenadmin says:

      Thanks for leaving such a nice note. That really makes my day! Homeschooling can be so much fun! Hope you have a great time with your unit! ~Liesl

  1. September 6, 2013

    […] Astronomy Unit (Moon Activities) Day 1 […]

  2. September 6, 2013

    […] Astronomy Unit (Moon Activities) Day 1 […]

  3. December 9, 2014

    […] Astronomy Unit (Moon Activities) Day 1 […]

  4. December 9, 2014

    […] Astronomy Unit (Moon Activities) Day 1 […]

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