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Madison Metropolitan School District

Moonwatch 1: Teacher's Guide

Outline of concepts to be presented

Expanded description: This is the first of two programs which are designed to introduce and wrap-up your moon observation unit. Use Moonwatch 1 before your students start observing the moon. Moonwatch 1 teaches the students how to observe the moon, raises questions about when and where we will be able to see the moon and what it will look like, and introduces the students to observing the moon with telescopes and traveling to the moon (Apollo program). The ideal situation would be to include both programs (Moonwatch 1 and 2) in your unit.

General Concepts

  • There are many interesting things that we can see in the sky. (sun, moon, planets, clouds, airplanes, etc.)
  • The sun is a star.
  • The moon is round like a ball and made of rock.
  • We can learn about the moon by observing it, and we can learn more about the moon by making many observations and recording our observations.
  • The sun, moon, stars, and planets seem to move across our sky throughout the day and night.
  • You can use the dark spots on the moon (maria) to imagine Jack and Jill.
  • We can use a telescope to help us to see the moon as if it were closer to us.
  • Some of the features on the moon that we can see with a telescope include maria, highlands, and craters.
  • Humans have traveled to the moon to explore and learn more about it.
  • Other nighttime sky concepts are addressed as time allows, including how to find constellations and planets in the current sky.

Connecting to the Classroom

This program should be utilized before you start your unit on observing the moon. This program relates directly to Part 3 of the FOSS Investigation #4 (Looking for Change) in Air and Weather.

Activities you might consider doing in the classroom :

  • Part 3 of the FOSS Investigation #4 (Looking for Change) in Air and Weather. Consider modeling/practicing the nighttime observations by doing them during the day when the moon is visible. Check our Daytime Moon Calendar for days when this would be possible. See also Observing the Moon.
  • Do part of the Jack and Jill on the Moon activity: (this is a Kindergarten activity, but is suitable for first and second grade) This activity helps the students to imagine Jack and Jill on the moon in order to familiarize the students with the dark features (maria) on the moon. Consider doing (or reviewing if some of your students have already done this) this activity only up through the point where they draw Jack and Jill and stop reading in the Story Book before you get to how the nursery rhyme shows the order of the phases. Let them observe to discover the pattern in the phases first.
  • Launching to the Moon Paper Activities:  NASA has produced a set of fun worksheets to support the new spacecraft being designed to take astronauts to the moon.
    Launching to the Moon Activity Sheets
    Moon Information - facts, activities, images, lesson plans
    What is Orion? - good web page with photos, information, and links to more resources

Vocabulary: some of the words the students will likely encounter

  • predict
  • observe (observations)
  • binoculars
  • telescope
  • maria (dark spots on the moon; low, flat areas; old craters that were filled with lava long ago)
  • highlands (light-colored areas on the moon; higher, hilly areas on the moon)
  • crater (a bowl-shaped low area created by a space rock smashing into the surface)
  • pattern