Teaching kids about the different phases of the moon can be challenging unless you have a visual demonstration or activity ready to accompany the lesson. White paper plates make effective and economical learning props that you can use to represent the moon or serve as the backdrop for a moon phase craft.
Paper Plates and Oreo Cookies
Oreo cookies will get your kids' attention for the moon phase lesson you intend to teach them. You can use Oreo cookies and white paper plates to create a chart of the various phases of the moon. Have the kids twist the Oreo cookies apart and scrape the cream off of the cookies in a way that represents the moon phases. For instance, the new moon will have have no cream on it, but the full moon will be full of the cream. The first and last quarter moons will have only half of the cream scraped off and so on. Organize the cookies on the paper plate and label them in the order of the moon phases, beginning with the new moon at the top and moving counterclockwise.
Paper Plate Cutouts
Using white paper plates, teach kids how to create a moon phase chart on a table or the floor. Provide pencils and instruct kids to trace the phases of the moon on the paper plates -- one phase of the moon per plate. Each kid should then have eight plates to work with. Then use craft scissors to cut the plates into the shapes of the moon phases. Have kids organize the moons on the table or floor in order of how the moon phases occur, from the new moon, to the first quarter moon and to the full moon, etc. For an additional touch, kids can write the names of the moon phase on the backs of the paper plate cutouts.
Moon Phase Mobiles
Mobiles are displays that hang from the ceiling or other structure, and you can create moon phase mobiles using paper plates, string and a wire hanger. First, have kids cut out the moon phases on the paper plates so that they end up with eight paper plate moons total. Then, hole-punch the top of the paper plates and tie string through them. Cut the string so that the moon phases hang in order, with the new moon's string being the shortest and descending to the full moon and then back up again in a circular motion. The other end of the strings should be tied to the wire hanger. When finished, kids can hang their moon phase mobiles from a hook to put on display. To embellish, allow kids to decorate their moons with paint, glitter glue or sequins.
Moon Phase Backdrops
A moon phase backdrop is made out of white paper plates that are glued onto large pieces of black construction paper. Have kids decorate the black construction paper first with gold star stickers or gold and silver metallic markers to resemble outer space. The paper plates should be cut out in the various moon phases and glued onto the construction paper in a circular rotation. Use the kids' backdrops to decorate the wall of the classroom during the week or month that you teach them about space. For an additional embellishment, kids can sponge-paint the moons with yellow tempra paint.